The social enterprise sector is committed to a shared vision

Australia’s social enterprise sector has set the course for a national strategy to meet the challenges of the years ahead.

“Working together to ensure prosperity for all people, places and the planet.”

It is the shared vision statement of the Australian social enterprise sector, reached after a long collaborative process that drew on feedback from social enterprises, universities, leading organizations, philanthropic organizations and impact investment organisations, in all Australian states.

Belinda Morrissey, chair of Social Enterprise National Strategy and CEO of The English Family Foundation, who played a key role in the process, said creating a common vision was key to “setting a direction for the sector”.

She told Pro Bono News that he provided “a call to action for the sector [and] an essential basis for a national strategy”.

“It’s an important step to have named a common direction and call to action as an industry,” Morrissey said. “In practice, it gives us a compass in our work together and provides a basis for a national strategy.”

The strong diversity of the sector seems to have played a considerable role in the formulation vision and mission, with different industry players fulfilling distinct but appropriate roles.

The Yunus Center (a mission-led business school working with people and organizations) consulted with people in the industry and, based on the responses, developed first drafts, while ASENA – the apex body representing the seven practitioner-led state and territory social enterprise networks in Australia – provided feedback and proposed alternatives.

While the end goal was important, Morrissey says the process provided significant opportunities.

“It was a process of learning about the shared and different needs for social enterprise in Australia,” she said.

“We learned how important it is for the diverse voices of the sector to be heard and that in fact they want to have a say in the vision and mission of the sector and to be involved.”

The original draft declaration – which read “A world working together for prosperity for all people, places and the planet” – was developed to reflect the key themes that emerged from the consultative workshops.

The essential principles of this included:

  • the collaboration itself as a vision;
  • name and assess social, environmental and local impact; and
  • using simple, clear and direct language.

This wording was shared with workshop participants and the public, with a request for comments from the sector. After incorporating feedback from 91 people, the National Social Enterprise Strategy Advisory Council finalized the vision as, “Working together to ensure prosperity for all people, places and the planet.”

The sector has also agreed on a set of shared mission values ​​and is committed to fostering a vibrant and connected Australian social enterprise sector that provides:

  • Environmental Protection
  • person-centered services
  • access to decent work
  • community-led innovation.

As a result of the consultation and collaboration process, the sector established five foundations for future collaboration. The main priority is to establish a national strategy. The four additional goals were based on research conducted by the Yunus Center:

  • Establish an organization to lead the national strategy process, connect key industry figures and engage with the federal government.
  • Establish principles of practice reflecting shared values ​​and establish collaborative guidelines, after a co-design process.
  • Present and promote the value of social enterprise through communication, education and advocacy.
  • Commission an investment case for the social enterprise sector, to articulate its value.

Social Enterprise Australia is now in the final stages of registering the name with ASIC and there will be an industry co-design process to decide how it will operate.

Morrissey said the collaborative process inherent in developing shared mission and values ​​has solidified future collaboration in the social enterprise sector.

“The co-design process has been fundamental to developing this shared direction and staying true to the collaborative and representative ethos embedded in everything we do,” she said.

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