I’m a start-up. Can I be certified?

Yes, provided you have demonstrated operation of the business and impact model through a proof of concept. To assess start-up organisations (<2 years) we require a business plan communicating the business model of the organisation and how it will achieve its social purpose. We also ask for a 12-month financial forecast.

I have an idea for a social enterprise but no business plan or trading history. Can I be certified?

Not yet. Social Traders can certify start-up organisations who have undertaken a proof of concept of the business and impact model. If you are still in the planning stages of your organisation, we recommend you take some time to solidify your model, put a clear business plan together and test the model with clients and beneficiaries through a pilot or proof of concept. If you're a start-up or business transitioning to a Social Enterprise, we recommend reviewing the Social Enterprise Fundamentals resources, available on the CSI website.

I’m an existing business looking to transition to a social enterprise model. Can I be certified?

If you have been operating the business as a social enterprise for at least six months, you can apply for certification. Determination of certification will be made based on the certification criteria.

Can I apply for certification if I don’t have a constitution or shareholders agreement?

Yes. If you don’t have complete legal governing documents, such as a constitution or shareholders agreement, you can still be certified by using our Verification Certificate. By the second year of certification, we will request complete legal documentation, with any necessary changes we identify with you to be implemented at this time. Sole traders can use the Verification Certificate in place of legal governing documentation. We have developed a set of example legal terms with Minter Ellison to help you embed terms consistent with operating as a Social Enterprise into your legal documents. Contact us for a copy of the terms.

Our impact occurs overseas, can we still be certified?

Yes, our certification recognises the diversity of impact models and beneficiary groups, including impact being achieved overseas.

How long does Social Traders certification take?

This will depend on the complexity of your enterprise, but if all the required evidence is provided at the time of submitting your application, and your business and impact model are clear, the review and clarifications can be completed within two weeks of submission.

What happens if I submit the wrong information?

Once you have submitted your application, our certification team will assess your application against our certification framework. If you have not provided enough information, or if our certification assessment team need clarification on the evidence you have provided, they will contact you. There is no ‘wrong information’ when it comes to certification. If you’re not sure if you have all the required information, start the application and fill in as much information as you can. Our certification team can talk you through any additional evidence you need to provide.

Are there any organisations that can’t be certified?

Currently, our certification process cannot cater for:

  • Government entities that don’t operate independently or comply with competition policies
  • Private companies that are transitioning to a social enterprise without a clear model and/or earlier than six months operating as a social enterprise,
  • Entities without a physical location or entity in Australia, and
  • Group structures where public benefit does not outweigh any private benefit.

You can download our guidance notes for more information. There may be other instances where we can’t certify an organisation.

What are my options if my certification is denied?

If you feel you’ve been unfairly assessed, please contact us to discuss your options.

What happens if there is a change of ownership or legal structure for my enterprise after my business is certified?

As outlined in Social Traders Certified Social Enterprise Terms and Conditions and Licensing Agreement you must immediately advise us if any information provided to support your certification application becomes incorrect or untrue. Depending on the change, a reassessment of your eligibility for certification may be required.

Who assesses my application?

Our certification team will review your application. While you’ll primarily be working with a Social Traders representative, more complex applications are referred to the Social Traders Certification Advisory Group for review.

What is NOT assessed as part of certification?

Social Traders explicitly certifies that an organisation is a social enterprise based on our operationalisation of the FASES Social Enterprise definition. Certification does not encompass other compliance matters including but not limited to verification of insurances, compliance with Australian laws, and business long-term viability. As a Certified Social Enterprise, you may work with our Business and Government Members who may ask you about other compliance matters.

Can I get funding to cover the cost of my membership?

Certification with Social Traders is partly funded by our government and philanthropic supporters depending on the state the social enterprise delivers impact.

We also recognise the support from government and philanthropy for subsidising our social enterprise membership packages. Additional subsidy may be available to support membership fees for those social enterprises operating in an emerging market. Talk to us to see if you’re eligible.

Grow package is also subsided by government and philanthropy. Access to further funding varies by state, depending on the subsidies available at the time of application.

What are your policies around certification?

Still have questions?

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