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Australian Social Venture Ecosystem Report

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There are more than 20,000 social enterprises in Australia, however the entire social venture ecosystem is in need of support. While many social ventures struggle to reconcile the tension between optimizing impact and profitability, research has also found that the cost of venture support and ecosystem building requires additional resourcing. 

These findings are in the Australian Social Venture Ecosystem Report, commissioned by The Paul Ramsay Foundation and conducted by the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University. The aim of the research was to better understand Australia’s social venture entrepreneurial ecosystem and all of the elements required to sustain a healthy entrepreneurial sector.

The ecosystem is made up of incubators and accelerator programs, like Mill House Ventures and StartSomeGood, the social ventures themselves, and the Apex organisations that provide advocacy, support networking, research, and policy/standards among other things.

Social ventures vary greatly. Their business models differ, their social goals vary as do their services and programs. They can be grouped into three types of organisations:

The research findings are interesting:

  • Social business and socially conscious business – for these ventures profit is as important as social impact. Ventures are always for profit in legal structure.
  • Social enterprise - income is derived from trading however the social impact motivation dominates value/wealth generation. Ventures may be for-profit or not-for-profit in terms of legal structure.
  • Enterprising welfare and charitable organisations – the minority of income is from trading and all value created is social. Ventures are always not-for-profit in terms of legal structure.
  • There is a strong demand for program-based support across the social venture sector,
  • the highest need is in the early development stages,
  • it is challenging to identify what support mechanisms are available,
  • support can often be generalised in nature,
  • different forms of capital are needed and the support to access capital,
  • capital delivery needs to be coupled with implementation support,
  • and the means to evaluate a social ventures effectiveness is required.

However, importantly the research also identified opportunities or gaps for entrepreneurs to fill. It seems there is no lack of passion or intellect, just the underlying financial support to make social purpose a scalable part of reality.

 

Find out more. 

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