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Predictions for 2022: Social enterprise


15 February 2022 at 8:24 am
Belinda Morrissey
While the ongoing uncertainty we are all facing can make it difficult to predict what’s coming, Belinda Morrissey, CEO of the English Family Foundation and chair of the Social Enterprise National Strategy Advisory Council, shares her wishlist for the social enterprise sector this year.


Belinda Morrissey | 15 February 2022 at 8:24 am


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Predictions for 2022: Social enterprise
15 February 2022 at 8:24 am

While the ongoing uncertainty we are all facing can make it difficult to predict what’s coming, Belinda Morrissey, CEO of the English Family Foundation and chair of the Social Enterprise National Strategy Advisory Council, shares her wishlist for the social enterprise sector this year.

With the ongoing turmoil across the world, and the daily uncertainty we are all facing as we move into 2022, the opportunity to set down predictions for this year is akin to asking how long is a piece of string. But if these past two years of upheaval, COVID-19 heartaches and financial distress, natural disasters, climate devastation (do I really need to go on?) have taught me anything it is the incredible perseverance and resilience of the social enterprise sector, both in Australia and globally. 

Despite the tough road through the pandemic, we’ve seen the sector continue to deliver health, employment and welfare outcomes for Australia’s most disadvantaged and marginalised communities. We’ve also seen the Australian social enterprise sector take the wheel on collective responsibility for its own progress. This includes initiatives like the National Strategy, and the growth of the state networks and collaborations among enterprises working to tackle the same problem. Now in 2022 it feels like we’ve reached a tipping point, and we need to tap into this moment and seize the opportunities. So, what do I predict (or wish) will develop in the social enterprise sector in 2022?

Prediction: Heightened focus on ecosystems

One prediction is that this year will unleash widespread and cross-sectoral normalising of the use of ecosystem analysis. We should see greater leaning into the concept that social issues require collaboration across all areas of the impact economy – social enterprises, charities, government, business, philanthropy, universities – everyone. 

The Social Enterprise National Strategy initiative mentioned above will be one force behind this acceleration of ecosystem thinking. Through deep sector engagement this project is galvanising the sector around a shared vision and strategy, bringing cohesion and connectivity to this diverse sector. It also aims to influence government policy and increase the likelihood of securing a long-term strategic partnership with the federal government.

Data and technology will be critical to this focus on ecosystems. The digital transformation of our daily lives and proliferation of AI-powered systems, to name but a few trends, are changing both consumer and business behaviour. If we can democratise access to data then we can ensure that the benefits of these new technologies are more inclusively spread across Australia. Technology platform advancements like the ecosystem mapping tool by social enterprise Wicked Lab are enhancing the sector’s understanding of their broader ecosystem and which levers and actions are needed to amplify social impact. 

Prediction: Increased awareness of what social enterprises can offer Australia

For the sector to realise its vision and ambitions we need to go big this year and campaign to raise the awareness of this national asset – and the economic and social value that this sector provides to our communities (research shows that nearly one in three social enterprises in Australia are set up to create meaningful jobs for people experiencing disadvantage). We need to tap into the growing sense of conscious consumerism and 2022 will be the year to do this.

The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) 2022 in Brisbane will be an exceptional opportunity to raise the profile of social enterprise, particularly among key influencers inside government, business and philanthropy. September sees SEWF back on Australian shores, with White Box Enterprises as the Australian host. This landmark event is a huge win for the sector and is so much more than a typical forum. SEWF’s goal is to grow the global social enterprise movement to accelerate our transition to a new global impact economy. In Australia the year-long activation period in the lead up to September provides an exciting opportunity to shine a light on and legitimise the sector, particularly for our First Nation founders for whom business for good is standard practice. Source your tickets here

Wish: Stronger policy developments across all levels of governments

2022 also needs to be the year when we go stronger on policy development – potentially tricky in an election year. So let’s tap into the ethical awareness which has grown across the country during the pandemic and use this as an opportunity to build a more equitable Australia for all. Jurisdictions globally have shown us the acceleration possible in the social enterprise sector when it is supported by enabling policy, and we see that demonstrated here in the acceleration of the sector under the Victorian government’s targeted social enterprise strategies. The European Commission’s Social Economy Action Plan, released in December 2021, noted: “To realise its full potential, it is important to raise the social economy’s visibility and create an environment that enables the social economy to thrive and grow.” I couldn’t agree more.

While government enabling initiatives, such as those that directly encourage social procurement or provide payment by outcome strategies or grants to support refugee employment, are not the only piece to the puzzle, they are critical and send strong signals around normalising behaviour. We need the federal government to work with the sector to activate well-developed opportunities, such as the social impact investment taskforce’s recommendations. We also need all state governments following the lead of the Victorian and increasingly the Queensland state governments. At a local level councils can encourage social enterprises within their communities through social procurement policies and supportive granting programs. 

My challenge to you all this year is to actively consider where you can accelerate awareness of this vital sector through the work that you do. Will you commit to adding your voice to the National Strategy sector engagements? Will you attend SEWF ’22? How can we all, together, build an Australia where everyone and every community can thrive, contribute and create?

See also

Predictions for 2022: Impact investing

Predictions for 2022: Charities


Belinda Morrissey  |  @ProBonoNews

Belinda Morrissey is the CEO of the English Family Foundation and chair of the Social Enterprise National Strategy Advisory Council.

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