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‘RADELAIDE’ - Ready for Social Change

29 May 2017 at 2:11 pm
Moira Deslandes
When it comes to the state of the ecosystem surrounding start-ups and enterprises, Adelaide is in pole position, writes consultant Moira Deslandes who recently took part in the Don Dunstan Foundations’ Social Capital Residencies.

Moira Deslandes | 29 May 2017 at 2:11 pm


‘RADELAIDE’ - Ready for Social Change
29 May 2017 at 2:11 pm

When it comes to the state of the ecosystem surrounding start-ups and enterprises, Adelaide is in pole position, writes consultant Moira Deslandes who recently took part in the Don Dunstan Foundations’ Social Capital Residencies.

Just how rad can Radelaide be? There is a groundswell of activity, enterprise and goodwill in the town and a movement to embrace changemaking. Necessity is the mother of invention – and it has never been more necessary for South Australia to get with the program and become a state of changemakers or as Dr Gill Hicks AM, MBE, FRSA has said: “A State of Mind.

South Australia is a community of thinkers and doers and changemakers – not just for ourselves, but for each other and the planet.

There is a long history in Adelaide and in South Australia generally of doing things differently as a response to the challenging conditions of not being on an easy-to-see trade route – but those days must surely be over where the highways of this century are predicted on bytes not bricks and high speed connectivity not roads.   

The recent visit to Adelaide by Allyson Hewitt of Toronto’s MaRS DD provided an opportunity for public discourse about the state of the ecosystem surrounding startups and enterprises.

Being in Adelaide it is possible to make a world changing contribution to space from Adelaide. Flavia Tata Nardini of Fleet Space is proof of this, and with her blend of humility and ambition has a launch date booked for free global satellite connectivity to take the internet to a whole new level.

Hewitt’s challenge to South Australia, for blended value of for-purpose and for-profit, is as ambitious as Fleet’s and calls on NFPs to aim for the stars too.

The size of some of the environmental, social and economic challenges should be the catalyst for the ambition and investment to solve these challenges and needs to be commensurate with the problem. Yet there are often crumbs from the table for social shifts and little to support system shifts. It was heartening to hear loud and clear from Hewitt’s first visit as part of the Don Dunstan Foundations’ Social Capital Residencies that the need for intermediaries to catalyse change making and system shifting was so clear. One of the events during their visit was a mapping of the ecosystem for start-ups and entrepreneurs. Mapping is a good place to start, but it will be the unlocking of assets, resources and ideas that will take this to the next level.

There needs to be more diversity in all parts of the system – in business models (eg co-ops, associations and B Corps), in who is being supported with investment (gender differential is significantly biased to men), value of purpose and profit being equally understood for impact measurement and linked to international standards (eg IRIS, Sustainable Development Goals) to name a few.

Intermediaries help bridge, broker, and assist the knowledge transfer necessary to bring together the diversity of individuals and with systems, organisations and knowledge needed to create successful innovation.

In many ways, the role of peak bodies could be morphed into intermediaries to bring transformational change to sectors and industries. Investment in the development of intermediaries for profit and purpose will support prototyping and leverage for scale.

Intermediaries in South Australia have tended to be co-operatives or associations and these models continue to be replicated in the change-making business. For example Together SA in the social space is an association and intermediary. Other models are emerging, for example in the national early childhood space where Opportunity Child is an intermediary funded by philanthropy through the ten20 Foundation.

Connecting up the data and the dots and propelling the tools into space to enable our collective wisdom will bring about connectivity to accelerate change. While there is a lot of ambition and goodwill, it will require investment in time, energy and resources in intermediaries to get the traction for change-making at scale.

About the author: Moira Deslandes is a consultant and associate of Opportunity Child. She is also the founder of Chooks SA which is building a movement for gender equity in investment for women entrepreneurs in start-ups and social enterprises.

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