Learn About Social Enterprise

Social enterprises use the power of the market place to solve the most pressing societal problems. They are businesses that exist primarily to benefit the public and the community, rather than their shareholders and owners. Social enterprises are commercially viable businesses with a purpose of generating social impact.

Social Traders is committed to helping anyone learn about social enterprise. This section of our website contains case studies, research publications and resources to help anyone progress their understanding of social enterprise. We also run a free 3-hour workshop and a full-day study tour in Melbourne for anyone who wants to learn more about social enterprise, learn about Social Traders' offerings and how to engage with us. 

One of the most common questions we get is, 'What is a social enterprise?'  In the Australian context, because there is no legal structure called social enterprise, we define social enterprise as an organisations that:

  • Is driven by a public or community cause, be it social, environmental, cultural or economic
  • Derive most of their income from trade, not donations
  • Use the majority of their profits to work towards their social mission. 

This definition of social enterprise is derived from the Finding Australia's Social Enterprise Sector (FASES) research, which is the first and to-date only CENSUS of social enterprise in Australia. 

Here are our top three resources if you'd like to learn more about social enterprise:

Case Studies

Our most popular resource, case studies provide insight into how different types of social enterprises are currently operating in Australia, their successes and challenges.

Crash Course in Social Enterprise

Read this short publication for a thorough understanding of social enterprise and what you need to know if you are thinking about starting a social enterprise.

Australian social enterprise facts

What does the Australian social enterprise sector look like? How many are there? How big is the sector? Where are they located? What do they do?