All aboard the Sydney Social Enterprise Bus Tour
19 May 2021 at 12:51 pm
Over 20 social enterprises came together to share their vision for a more diverse, sustainable and inclusive society.
Not satisfied with simply getting together over a cup of tea or (yet another) Zoom call, the Social Enterprise Council of NSW and ACT (SECNA) has brought together 30 key leaders to discuss the future of the sector in a slightly unconventional setting.
On board the bus were over 20 social enterprises including Beehive Industries, Digital Storytellers, StartSomeGood, The Social Outfit, Parliament on King and Kua Coffee; partners from government including Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Scully and Minister Damien Tudehope; and big industry players such as Canva, who all came together to share their vision and support of social enterprise for a more diverse, sustainable and inclusive society.
Launching at the beginning of the month, SECNA’s inaugural bus tour was touted as a fun and immersive way to explore the social enterprises addressing the city’s most complex problems in the wake of COVID-19.
Tom Dawkins, co-founder and CEO of StartSomeGood, hosted the event and said that the day was a way to bring social enterprises, philanthropists, industry partners and the wider community together to raise awareness of the movement.
“Social enterprise is a doing. It’s a way of engaging with the world. A way of making an impact,” Dawkins said.
“That way requires the marrying of business approaches, being active and working in the market, and a big part of what we want to do [today] is to bring the sector closer together.”
When speaking to participants at the start of the event, Scully said she recognised that the city has an extraordinary social enterprise sector that not everyone gets to see.
“[The sector is] giving people work opportunities, connecting people to each other and feeding people but sometimes all the [hard] work can be behind the scenes and people don’t get to hear the stories,” Scully said.
“SECNA’s Social Enterprise Bus Tour is going to take people right to [the heart of] those places.”
Philanthropists, corporate employees, government officials and social enterprise leaders visited over 20 Sydney businesses and had the opportunity to speak to their owners. Business owners like Mikey Leung from Digital Storytellers, an agency creating impact through storytelling.
Leung explained to the group that to really help social enterprises grow and create impact, the best thing leaders can do is to encourage procurement.
“The best thing you can do is buy from social enterprises, and procurement is really what this is about at the end of the day, as it is powering the market demand for social enterprises,” Leung said.
Sally McGeoch from Westpac Foundation was a participant in the tour. She said that she felt that social enterprises really needed support at an organisational level.
“They need access to funding capacity, building and networks, and then from a systems level, they need a really favourable policy environment to thrive,” McGeoch said.
The tour ended with discussions around the future of the sector and closing remarks from the deputy lord mayor.
“We need to be able to prove that best value also means money that stays in the local economy, money that goes to organisations with purpose. And I’d like to see us bring other big organisations along with us, because if that money can do good multiple times, once it leaves our coffers, it’s much better for our local community,” she said.