Victorian social enterprises get connected
22 August 2019 at 8:17 am
Social enterprises across Victoria are getting connected with the launch of a statewide peer-to-peer network.
The Social Enterprise Network of Victoria (SENVIC) was announced by the Victorian Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade Martin Pakula during an address at the Social Traders conference in Melbourne.
The state government has provided almost $1.5 million to set up the network, which will be delivered in partnership with CERES, the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship and Social Traders.
CERES chief executive Cinnamon Evans said it was an important step forward for the social enterprise sector.
“I think social enterprises need opportunities to connect with each other, to share stories of successes and failures and learn from each other,” Evans told Pro Bono News.
“They also need access to learning and development opportunities, which we haven’t had in the sector as a whole, a sort of one-stop-shop portal for that kind of opportunity.
“Thirdly, I think social enterprises in Victoria really need to have a stronger voice as a sector. Forming a network that is peer-to-peer and practitioner-led will mean that social enterprises can begin to form that voice and speak more collectively to those that need to listen.”
The launch on Tuesday follows a year of work behind the scenes, after SENVIC was first formed in 2018 with nine founding members: Social Traders, CERES, ACRE, The Community Grocer, GAME Traffic and Contracting, Good Cycles, Green Collect, 100 Story Building and STREAT.
Moving forward Evans said it was important to listen to the Victorian members about what they feel the network needs to do for them and with them.
Social Traders managing director David Brookes told Pro Bono News that peer-to-peer networking was critical for social enterprise.
“SENVIC for the first time provides a structure and formalises the ability of social enterprises and social entrepreneurs to connect with each other,” Brookes said.
“We’ve been doing it for probably 10 or 15 years in an unstructured and ad hoc way, whereas SENVIC gives us the ability to get organised and coordinated, and have a greater influence and voice to stakeholders, government and investors.”
He said it was great to see the commitment from the state government.
Minister Pakula said SENVIC, which comes under the government’s Social Enterprise Strategy, was an excellent development and one that would be very advantageous for the sector, which contributes more than $5 billion to the state’s economy.
“We’re getting on with growing a strong and inclusive economy that benefits all Victorians through our Social Enterprise Strategy and pioneering social procurement policies,” Pakula said.
“The Victorian Social Enterprise Network will help us achieve greater collaboration in the sector and enable social enterprises to thrive.”
Brookes said it paved the way for a national network in the future.
“The states in their own right have taken the lead, Queensland out there in front with the establishment of QSEC two or three years ago, SENVIC coming behind now, and the other networks, and I think you’ll see those state-based networks working really closely together and in some ways forming a national Australian network in the not too distant future,” he said.