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Agility Key to Social Enterprise Success


7 April 2016 at 11:24 am
Ellie Cooper
While successful social enterprises are resourceful, agile and dynamic in their balance of social purpose and commercial focus, the industry as a whole requires more tailored financial support structures, according to a new study.

Ellie Cooper | 7 April 2016 at 11:24 am


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Agility Key to Social Enterprise Success
7 April 2016 at 11:24 am

While successful social enterprises are resourceful, agile and dynamic in their balance of social purpose and commercial focus, the industry as a whole requires more tailored financial support structures, according to a new study.  

The latest Social Impact Series report, which analysed social enterprises in Western Australia, said that there was a need to develop more formal, structured financial resources that are designed specifically for social enterprises, with the support from government and larger financial institutions.

Director of the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia, Professor Paul Flatau, said that, for the first time, there was a full understanding of the financial and resourcing challenges facing social enterprises.

He said learnings from the research would help develop financial solutions for social enterprises.

“We can see that social enterprises adopt both formal and informal strategies and are flexible in the way they access their resources – truly agile organisations on a mission to achieve social impact,” Professor Flatau said.

“We hope this research will help open the door to more appropriate financing and support to ensure our social enterprises thrive.”

The report, How do Western Australia’s Social Enterprises meet their Financial Challenges, is the fourth in the series developed by the Bankwest Foundation and the University of Western Australia Centre for Social Impact (CSI).

Report authors, Dr Chris Mason, senior research fellow at the CSI and Swinburne University, and Professor Jo Barraket, director of the CSI Swinburne University, said that the research highlighted  agility in seeking out the resources they need.

“The research was designed to cover social enterprises at different stages of growth, so we really get to see where they face significant barriers to building their business, and where this impacts their goal in achieving social impact,” Dr Mason and Professor Barraket said.

“By monitoring the social enterprises over a period of eighteen months, we have been able to capture the diverse experiences that a social enterprise faces from start-up and beyond, and we can clearly see the implications for the development of financial products and tools to foster social enterprise growth.”

The report analysed the findings from the first wave of data collection from participant case studies, investigating the “lived experiences” of social enterprises and social entrepreneurs in Western Australia. The study will now proceed with the second round of data collection and analysis.


Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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