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”Farewell with pride, thanks and confidence” – A message from David Brookes on finishing up at Social Traders

September 25, 2020

David Brookes finishes as Managing Director of Social Traders after a dedicated twelve years.  Read his farewell message on his reflections and optimism for the future of social enterprise in Australia.

It has been my privilege to serve as Social Traders Managing Director for the past 12 years.  I am so proud of the significant achievements by the incredibly passionate and talented  team over that time.

Social Traders formed with belief in the incredible power of social enterprise to change peoples’ lives for the better.  The 2010 FASES Research project, conducted in partnership with Professor Jo Barraket, was pivotal in getting social enterprise on the radar here in Australia.

We have supported social enterprises to start-up and grow to realise their full potential through a range of innovative and pioneering development initiatives, including The Crunch accelerator program, our patient capital investments in early stage enterprises, along with the national social enterprise conference and awards.  Since our inception, we have been a leading advocate and champion for social enterprise with governments, philanthropy, business and community sectors.

Our strategic shift three years ago, to improve access and build more market opportunities for social enterprises, responded to what the sector and Social Traders believe is the biggest opportunity to enable their growth, sustainability and long-term impact.

Since 2018, this social enterprise marketplace has generated over $220 million in new revenue for social enterprises resulting in 1,600 training and employment opportunities and other significant community benefits.  Just this month, we have reached a milestone of 400 certified social enterprises and 100 government and business buyer members.

The growth and resilience of the social enterprise movement presents a huge opportunity to build a marketplace that recognises social capital beyond our current economic model.

There is no better time than now, in 2020, as we contemplate our post COVID-19 world, for social enterprise to make a more significant contribution to our economic recovery, which provides a better future for Australia.

Now is the time to be bold.  In recent months, Social Traders has recommitted to its strategic direction and set ambitious goals for the decade ahead.  Vision 2030 sets out a long-term plan to scale the social enterprise marketplace that will unlock $1 billion in revenue from government and private sector procurement, creating 40,000 jobs for marginalised Australians over the next 10 years.

Despite our challenges, I have optimism that by working together and collaborating with other organisations, government policies and business systems will progressively evolve to enable shared prosperity, chipping away at our endemic social and environmental challenges.

I believe this transformation is well underway.  Yet we still have many miles to run.  If I’ve learnt one thing from my 40 year career to date, and reinforced during my time at Social Traders, it is the imperative of persistence.

My stepping down this week coincides with the SEWF 2020 Digital event, attracting by far the largest ever gathering of the global social enterprise community with over five and half thousand delegates from around the world.  Back in 2009, Social Traders co-hosted the second SEWF in Melbourne with around 450 delegates, highlighting the growing global interest and momentum in social enterprise over the last decade.

Social enterprise is now recognised as a part of the social impact economy.

I’m proud of the contribution that Social Traders has made to date and confident of the increased impact that will be realised in the years ahead.

On behalf of the Social Traders Board and staff, both current and past, I thank all our partners, collaborators and supporters who have provided us with the opportunity to learn from, and work with, the many amazing social enterprises and entrepreneurs across Australia.

I am looking forward to a well-earned break over the next month or two and hope our paths cross in the future as we transition to post pandemic life.

Best wishes

David Brookes



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