What is a Social Enterprise?

Social enterprises are businesses that trade to intentionally tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people access to employment and training, or help the environment.

There are currently more than 3,500 social enterprises trading across metropolitan and regional Victoria employing an estimated 60,000 people and contributing $5.2 billion to the Victorian economy.

In the Australian context, there is no legal structure called social enterprise but the Victorian Government defines social enterprise as organisations that:

  • are driven by a public or community cause, be it social, environmental, cultural or economic
  • derive most of their income from trade, not donations or grants
  • use the majority (at least 50%) of their profits to work towards their social mission.

Victoria’s Social Enterprise Strategy

Australia’s first-ever strategy for the social enterprise sector was launched by the Victorian Government in February 2017. The Social Enterprise Strategy has identified four areas for action, including:

  • increasing the impact and innovation of social enterprise
  • building business capacity and skills
  • improving market access.

Map for Impact research report

In December 2017, the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University released the Map for Impact research report and website.

The report, commissioned by the Victorian Government, detailed the influence that the social enterprise sector is having on Victoria’s economy and society. Key findings from the report include the fact that there are now over 3,500 social enterprises in Victoria, employing 1.8 per cent of the workforce and contributing over $5.2 billion to the economy.

Launched alongside the report was the Map for Impact website, mapping the physical location of social enterprises throughout Victoria.

Social Traders Certification

Although there is no legal definition for what constitutes a social enterprise, social enterprise development organisation Social Traders provides certification for social enterprises, to support the growth and impact of business-to-business social enterprises.

For more information on becoming certified by Social Traders, visit Social Traders website.

Social Procurement Framework

Launched in April 2018 the Victorian Governments 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 ensures value-for-money considerations are not solely focused on price, but include opportunities to deliver social and sustainability outcomes that benefit the Victorian community.