Finding Australia's Social Enterprise Sector

The Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector (FASES) 2015 and 2016 research reports were a joint initiative of Social Traders and the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne (CSI Swinburne).

Building on FASES 2010 , the reports focused on understanding the challenges and opportunities experienced by social enterprises in their operating environments and were based on data from 370 social enterprise practitioners, intermediaries and policymakers.

The research found five main issues and opportunities for Australian social enterprises:

1. Social procurement

There are vast untapped marketplace opportunities for social enterprise to deliver goods and services and social impact. The concept is gaining traction but the challenges to procurement-as-usual and SE capacity are significant.

2. Governance and staff

Social enterprises struggle to find the staff and boards that can straddle the social and economic goals of the business. This carries over to adapting staff profiles and governance arrangements as social enterprises move through the lifecycle.

3. Partnering with other social enterprises

There are untapped opportunities for supply chain development and partnership between social enterprises and between social enterprises and other business types.

4. Social finance

There are significant challenges associated with accessing suitable social finance, particularly at consolidation and expansion stages of development.

5. Coordinated advocacy

There needs to be more and clearer messages to both governments and the public in relation to the benefits and needs of social enterprise.