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Social enterprise

What is a social enterprise and what support is available to further your social mission?

On this page

  • What is a social enterprise?
  • Victoria's social enterprise strategy
  • Map for impact research report
  • Social Traders certification
  • Social enterprise capability voucher program
  • Social procurement framework

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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, and improving market access.

The Strategy and further information on its initiatives can be found on the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and resources website.

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% 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.

Visit Map for Impact

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 Enterprise Capability Voucher Program

The Social Enterprise Capability Voucher Stream of the Boost Your Business program supports capability development projects within Victorian social enterprises.

Vouchers of up to $25,000 can be provided for the following services: business process & systems improvements business transformation financial management planning industry standards implementation & certification tender guidance.

For further information on how to apply for the program, visit the program page on our 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.

Read the Social Procurement Framework