What is a social enterprise?

Social enterprises are businesses that trade so they can:

  • tackle social problems
  • improve communities
  • give people access to employment and training, or
  • help the environment

There is no legal structure called 'social enterprise' in Australia. However, the Victorian Government defines social enterprises as organisations that:

  • are driven by a public or community cause (social, environmental, cultural or economic)
  • get most of their income from business trade, rather than from donations or grants
  • use at least 50% of their profits to work towards their social mission

How to certify your social enterprise

Although there is no legal definition for social enterprise, you can apply to become certified with Social Traders. Social Traders is a development organisation that supports the growth and impact of business-to-business social enterprises.

Social Traders Certification publicly verifies that your business has been properly assessed by Social Traders and endorsed as a social enterprise. It can add credibility to your enterprise and provide networking and other opportunities.

Victoria’s Social Enterprise Strategy 2021-25

Victoria’s second Social Enterprise Strategy builds on the strong foundations of the first strategy. The Social Enterprise Strategy 2021-2025 has identified actions under key themes, including:

  • building business skills and capability and capturing impact
  • enhancing recognition and access to innovative financing to scale impact
  • fostering a connected and innovative social enterprise ecosystem across Victoria
  • opening doors for social enterprises across government

Social Procurement Framework

Launched in April 2018 the Victorian Government’s Social Procurement Framework sets out a whole of government approach for engaging in social procurement.

Victoria's Social Procurement Framework aims to ensure that government procurement guarantees value-for-money considerations are not solely focused on price, but include opportunities to deliver social and sustainability outcomes that benefit the Victorian community.

Social Enterprise Network Victoria (SENVIC)

The Victorian Social Enterprise Network (SENVIC) is a state-wide network that connects social enterprises across Victoria, provides access to learning and development opportunities, and facilitates engagement with government and intermediaries.

Social Startup Studio

The Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne Social Startup Studio supports early-stage social enterprises to achieve sustainable and impactful operations.  Support and resources are available for individuals and organisations right along the startup journey.