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Frequently Asked Questions

Should social enterprises make a profit?

If a social enterprise does not make a profit, it is dependant on philanthropic or government support to stay afloat. Some social enterprises exist knowing that they need to raise funds every year to continue operating. These social enterprises which are reliant on non­commercial sources of support believe their social returns merit the grants they seek and secure. Most social enterprises seek to generate a profit from trading activity because they are ineligible for grants or because they choose to operate this way. No matter how you look at it, income must exceed expenses over time.

What is social procurement?

When buyers use their purchasing power to buy goods and services and social impact they are undertaking social procurement. For example, an organisation buying the construction of a road might also choose to create jobs for disadvantaged people in the process. For further information about social procurement, click here.

Where do I find out about legal structures?

Justice Connect Not-for-Profit Law have great resources on different legal structures and select an appropriate legal structure if you’re looking at starting a business. For more information head to

What international publications are available on social enterprise?

There are many resources and publications available on social enterprise, below are some international sources of information.

Stanford Social Innovation Review US-based magazine that combines strategies, ideas and tools for socially responsible businesses, nonprofits, and philanthropic foundations.

What other social enterprise support services are available.

There are a number of specialised social enterprise support services available across Australia and also internationally. Here are some of the major support services:


Social Traders Ltd   Social Traders is a specialist organisation that supports the development of commercially viable social enterprises throughout Australia.

Social Ventures Australia  works with social enterprises that create employment for people excluded from the labour market.

Social Business Australia provides advice, mentoring, training and support for member owned businesses that trade for social purpose.

Business Enterprise Centres  (BECs) are a great first point of contact for small business operators seeking information, advice and guidance. BECs are located in every state and territory in Australia, and local contacts may be found on their website.

School for Social Entrepreneurs Learning and skills development for social entrepreneurs. 

StartSomeGood   A peerfunding website that serves as a platform for social entrepreneurs to gather a community and raise the funds needed to create change.

Pozible   A crowdfunding platform and community for creative projects and ideas. Developed for creative minded people, including social change makers and entrepreneurs, to raise funds and make great things possible.


ACT Social Enterprise Hub  Networking, training, mentoring, and support. An initiative of Social Ventures Australia. 

Indigenous Business Chamber of Australia A peak body providing a business chamber for indigenous business people whilst supporting opportunities to create business relationships. Ensures legislation or proposed policy approaches address the needs of indigenous businesses.


Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce Promotes and serves the interest of Indigenous business, supporting and facilitating Indigenous self reliance and economic prosperity.

Mercury Centre Consultancy, research, support, information and training.   

NSW Small Business Provides training, tools and information about starting and expanding a business. Their Western Sydney Business Centre offers a range of workshops to assist business owners.

Refugee Enterprise Facilitation Project Promotes local economic growth in Western and South Western Sydney by providing free and confidential support to local entrepreneurs with refugee and refugee-like backgrounds wishing to start or expand existing small business.


Business Enterprise Centre, Darwin Region Inc Offers free support and advice to those who want to start, expand or buy a business. 

Northern Territory Government Business Department Offers a free and confidential business information service to new and existing businesses.


Business Development Queensland  Provides information, resources and tools to help launch or grow a business. Information on business seminars, read more.

Foresters Community Finance   Offers finance and lending to community organisations as well as socially-screened investment products for the ethical investor.

South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce    Connects Indigenous and Non-Indigenous businesses to promote, support, and guide Indigenous business success in the Australian community.



Business Development Tasmania  The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts is dedicated to assisting small business growth in Tasmania by providing valuable resources from the Department and other organisations to facilitate business expansion.


Brotherhood of St Laurence Operates several enterprises, and houses the Community Enterprise Development Initiative working with disadvantaged communities to develop community enterprises.

Business Victoria Offers small to medium size Victorian businesses with training, information and funding opportunities to launch, grow, or operate effectively.

Supporting Aboriginal Businesses and Employment Provides support, advice, training, and funding to help Indigenous business owners and entrepreneurs plan and manage growth in their business.    


Small Business Development Corporation Offers free assistance and support to businesses through free practical business assistance; referral to specialist advisers; help navigating government departments and regulations; workshops; and other information.


CEIS Established in 1984, CEiS provides a one-stop service for the training, development and financial needs of community businesses.

Community Wealth Partners Consulting and resources on social enterprise, particularly charitable business ventures.

Development Trusts Association Resources and publications about development trusts.

Enterprising non-profits Provides grants and resources to non-profits organizations for technical assistance along the entire business development path

Forth Sector Tools and publications for social enterprise practitioners.

Nonprofit Enterprise and Self-Sustainability Team (NESsT) Social Enterprise development and support organisation, focused on emerging market countries. Tools and publications.

Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) US-based venture philanthropy organisation building the capacity of nonprofit business ventures employing marginalised people. Research tools and resources.

Social Enterprise Alliance US-based membership organisation. Tools, news and resources.

Social Enterprise Coalition UK-based membership organisation. Advocacy, support, tools, news and resources.