Social enterprise is a concept which uses a business model to meet a social need or aspiration. Social enterprises are designed to be self-funding or recover the costs associated with meeting community, cultural, economic and environmental needs.
Through the use of social enterprise, communities and individuals become empowered to:
- create the change they want to see in their world
- more effectively deliver community outcomes
- meet urgent social priorities
- generate sustainability in social programs
- reduce their dependence on external funding.
Central Coast Council offers a range of programs that support the development of social and community enterprises by:
- promoting economic sustainability in the social sector
- increasing the social and community benefits generated by local enterprises
- supporting the development of innovative new enterprise models within the region.
A System Redefined - Social Enterprise
Social Enterprise Launch Pad Program
Our annual Social Enterprise Launch Pad Program supports the development of innovative new social enterprise models within the region and helps to turn community focused business ideas into a reality.
The free program, which has been running since 2012, provides a step-by-step guide to research, plan, seek funding and establish a social enterprise that benefits our community – whether it be social, environmental or creative.
Past program participant and Executive Officer of Iris Foundation, Sue Liptrott said “In 2021, Iris Foundation was accepted to take part in the Social Enterprise Launch Pad program and we were so grateful for the opportunity. We were looking to introduce a project that would enhance the existing ‘Because We Care Boutique Central Coast’ and provide further support to women in need. Launch Pad provided not only the construction and formulation of a defined pathway forward, but also valuable marketing tools for immediate use. These were instrumental in creating a platform to apply for grant funding for our new ‘Wings to Succeed’ project and I am happy to say that we were successful in receiving a Council Social Enterprise Grant in 2021 and the project is now underway.”
Read more success stories of previous year participant's:
- SWAMP (Sustainable Wetlands Agriculture Makers Project)
- The Scuba Gym
- Roundabout Circus
- Oasis Café
- Key2 Realty
This year’s development program will be delivered in partnership between Council, Business Centre and Community Compass as a series of workshops and one-on-one mentoring sessions from February to May 2023. We’re particularly keen to hear from groups and organisations operating in the disability sector, and individuals with a lived experience.
For further information please contact Gregory Combes by email Gregory.Combes@centralcoast.nsw.gov.au
By purchasing quality goods or services that also produce positive social outcomes, we can strengthen local economic development, open new opportunities for employment or enhance local skill development. Purchasing with purpose and understanding how the choices you make in spending can have a positive impact in contributing to our social economy.
Social Procurement in NSW: a Guide to Achieving Social Value through Public Sector Procurement is the culmination of a 12-month partnership of local, state and federal governments across the Central Coast, Sydney and the Illawarra, working together to promote social procurement in NSW.
Teaching juggling and acrobatics to impoverished children in Nicaragua isn’t your everyday job. But for Andy and Rachel Peters it was an eye-opening experience as to how circus skills can help transform the lives of those in need.
Less than three months after returning to the Central Coast, the enigmatic duo had started up their own circus skills workshop, Roundabout Circus. Designed for all ages from 3 years to 60+, the social enterprise runs weekly classes, school holiday workshops, community performances and open circus jams where anyone can come along and get involved or try a new skill.
Benefits For Those In Need
Having seen the huge impact the program can have on underprivileged children while traveling with Performers Without Borders in Nicaragua, Andy and Rachel also run numerous programs for disadvantaged groups throughout the central coast.
“We use the revenue from our normal operations, to help subsidise classes for those with special needs,” said Rachel. “The key benefit of our circus skills is to show how something that seems impossible becomes achievable when it’s broken up into smaller steps. This message is true for all our participants, but especially true for those who live with a disability or other difficulties.”
The inspirational couple also run dedicated workshops for other worthwhile organisations around the Coast, including Life Without Barriers and Central Coast Occupational Therapy. They offer discounted rates for these workshops to make the circus program as accessible to as many people as possible.
“For those who may feel undervalued or outcast from society, showing their new skills to the community can transform perceptions, held by both themselves and others, of what these amazing people can accomplish,” said Rachel.
“There are so many benefits. Even just the performing itself is a confidence booster.”
Spreading the Circus Experience
Less than two years after the first class started in February 2017, Roundabout Circus now runs more than 1,000 classes throughout the year, alongside dozens of other workshops, programs and events.
A recent primetime circus workshop at Brentwood village helped teach circus skills to those in their 70s!
One of our core focuses is on keeping it a “Social Circus,” said Rachel. “The emphasis and benefits are all about participating, not on who is the best performer.
“We also try to keep the classes as affordable as we can, including concession prices and payment plans.”
Rachel and Andy said that the Central Coast Council’s Launchpad Program really helped them progress their joint hobby into a full time sustainable business. The couple admit that it was quite the journey to get where they are now, but with eight part time teachers and more than 5,000 people experiencing their brand of circus every year, it’s become an undeniable success.
“We’ve have a beautiful community here who are really supporting of socially aware groups. And there’s so much connectivity between all the different groups and communities within the Central Coast.”
Andy, a former radiation therapist, and Rachel, a former dietitian, both feel they have found their calling in life. For anyone else who is thinking of starting a social enterprise, their advice is simple: “If you’re passionate about it you can make anything work!”
Key2 Realty is a social enterprise real estate agency established in March 2019 which is wholly owned by Pacific Link Housing (PLH). Profits are distributed to three of PLH’s tenant programs including learner driver courses, education scholarships and the SHEW program enabling young tenants to participate in sport, health, exercise and wellbeing activities.
As a specialist real estate agency, Key2 Realty solely focusses on managing rental properties in the Central Coast and Hunter regions. Within 15 months of operation, the social enterprise had grown to manage over 160 properties. This is an amazing achievement for any start-up business, but is also testament to their quality service, professionalism and the support received from the community.
Key2 Realty’s success to date is thanks, in no small part, to the support of their landlords. They are everyday people, who are fortunate enough to own an investment property. Landlords have embraced the Key2 philosophy and are passionate about providing PLH tenants with tools for self-improvement, skill development and greater independence, all of which helps the broader community too. They have offered praise of the property management service, not only for their social purpose, but also for providing outstanding service and care of their investment property.
Claire Braund, a landlord with Key2 Realty, said that the social enterprise model really appealed to her. “I chose Key2 Realty because it enables me in a small way to give back to the community. The staff are knowledgeable, ethical, compassionate and highly engaged in the work they do. They are prepared to go the extra mile to ensure a good match, for both the tenant and landlord is achieved,” she said.
Local businesses have also shown full support of Key2 Realty and partnerships have been forged with many highly regarded organisations including property developers, welfare services and other corporate and community organisations. It is through these partnerships that Key2 has the unique ability to offer landlords, and developers who build to rent, a choice of tenants that range from upper private market individuals to organisations who headlease or assist their clients with housing, such as disability for example.
In 2019, Central Coast Council awarded Key2 Realty with funds as part of their Social and Creative Enterprise Grant Program. This support will be used to assist with marketing activities to promote the business and social impact of its support through PLH’s tenant programs.
Key2 Realty is extremely proud of their success to date and are looking forward to seeing what more can be achieved with increased support of partners, landlords, local businesses and the wider community. Key2 Realty will continue providing expert property management service to landlords. They will also look to establishing and strengthening partnerships with organisations who will further contribute to Key2’s growth and ultimately, provide more opportunities for PLH tenants.
By definition, a social enterprise works toward solving a problem in society. But the entrepreneurs at ReCreate, an upcycling workshop on the Central Coast, go a step further – or make that two steps further – by tackling three core issues at once!
With a primary purpose of creating much needed employment opportunities for people living with disability, ReCreate’s business model aims to reduce waste by transforming materials such as reclaimed timbers and pallets into beautiful furniture and homeware pieces.
The creative social enterprise also upcycles donated items into freshly imagined fashion, gifts and homewares.
ReCreate is part of the not-for-profit organisation Fairhaven, who offer the benefit tri-factor by offering employment, lifestyle and accommodation services for people living with disability. A real win-win-win scenario.
Everything old is new again
One of the keys to ReCreate’s success is the Op Shop, where tons of used goods are donated each year. In some cases, pieces can simply be on-sold or cleaned up a little for resale. The remaining items are surveyed by the creative team who reimagine a new life for each.
This may be an entirely reinvented product or a beautifully upcycled item. The creative leads include Scott Creagh in the furniture workshop and Judy Delbridge who manages all craft and homewares.
“We get some wonderful donations, so the creative process is always fun!” said Ms Delbridge. “It can be a bit of a juggling act to balance the capacity of the team with an item’s potential, but that’s also what keeps in interesting.”
Ms Delbridge said ReCreate tries to do everything possible to reduce landfill and promote a circular economy in which ‘everything old is new again’. Every item is hand crafted by people living with various types of disabilities, all with the support by a truly creative crew.
“It’s joyful to see how satisfying it is for our team to make the amazing things they do, as well as how well received they are by the public”.
Balancing financial and social outcomes
Ms Delbridge said that many disability service organisations do not offer supported employment as it is notoriously difficult to build a sustainable business model in the commercial sector. However, Fairhaven see this as a central philosophy.
“A work environment doesn’t just offer meaning and purpose, it often leads to enriching friendships and relationships that generate community and belonging.”
In order to hit the financial sweet spot, the ReCreate team look for pieces that offer the most engagement with their supported workforce, and don’t require too much overhead in order to be sold at an affordable price through the retail shop in Point Clare.
“We also cut our costs by having no middle man and it helps that the raw materials are essentially free,” said Ms Delbridge.
A new ReCreate website and online shop is due to launch in early 2019 allowing the team to scale up production. This builds on their success with pop up shops in both the Imperial Centre in Gosford and at Erina Fair.
“We’ve also had great success refitting restaurants such as Coast Bar and Grill and Avoca Surf House,” said Ms Delbridge, “and helping fit-out another great social enterprise in our area, Gosford’s Tiny Homes project.”
The team also builds custom made-to-order pieces using upcycled pallets, reclaimed timber and the odd repurposed piece of furniture. Their unique pieces have found their way into homes, events, retail, hospitality and office fit-outs since its inception following the 2016 Launch Pad Program.
The key to success
“Do your business case first!” advises Ms Delbridge. “We learnt the hard way with some of our enterprises, and it is all about striking the balance between viability and impact. But essentially, if you have a good idea, then go for it!
“There are lots of opportunities on the Central Coast and we have had great support from businesses, Council and the public. Now we really can lead the way, limited only by our imagination!”