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WorkVentures – Social inclusion through technology

May 21, 2018

As an outcome of the recent launch of the Victorian Governments Social Procurement Framework, Scott Dibb, Client Relationship Manager at WorkVentures Ltd shares his insights on social enterprise and Social Traders certification.

WorkVentures is a Social Traders certified social enterprise – that ignites the potential in young people and their communities through technology.  In 2017, WorkVentures completed over 28,000 commercial IT repairs and in-excess of 17,000 decommissioned and traceable devices from corporate IT technology platforms were collected for responsible E-waste management.

WorkVentures social impact over the same period included the sale of 2,432 affordable PC desktop packages and laptops to individuals and other not-for-profit organisations.  Moreover, WorkVentures helped 188 young people into work, work placement or work readiness programs through paid traineeships (37%), vocational experience (60%) and WorkVentures KickStart program (4%).  Since the commencement of KickStart, 29 young people have gained employment (56%), entered into further tertiary education (5%) or are actively seeking employment opportunities (11%).

  • Does your business define itself as a social enterprise? 

WorkVentures is Australia’s leading IT social enterprise and we generate our income through our technology systems and IT repair business.  Our approach over the last 40 years has been to create a sustainable social enterprise where we provide opportunities for skills and jobs in collaboration with partners and communities and by providing access to technology.

In WorkVentures’ experience we have not benefitted from our social enterprise status.  We provide products and services to customer requirements and beat competitors’ pricing to win and maintain contracts.  However, being a social enterprise does add value when we are competitive elsewhere.

  • What does Social Traders certification mean to your business?

Social Traders certification is seen as the first tangible symbol of an industry recognised assessment and approval process for social enterprises.  It legitimises the values and business practices of social enterprises and provides meaningful social impact and positively affects the lives of people and their communities.

WorkVentures buy-in to certification has been seamless as our culture and normal business practices already reflects the values and requirements set-out in the certification process.  Reinforcing this, our staff are either working alongside people or have assisted people who have benefitted from our activities, or have been the beneficiaries themselves.

  • What tangible benefits have you received from Social Traders certification? 

The real benefit to date has been the opportunity to network with both buyers and sellers to determine at a high level what their current and long-term needs and requirements are, while providing (obviously for the first time with some potential buyers) what we can deliver in the way of products and services.

  • What are the things you like most about being Social Traders certified?

WorkVentures views Social Traders certification as providing social enterprises with the same distinction that accountants receive with CPA credentials.  It should provide procurement specialists with the confidence to buy directly or indirectly through certified social enterprises.

  • What are the areas you’d like to see change over the next 2-3 years to assist the growth of social enterprise? 

WorkVentures believes a clear distinction is required in the market place to identify genuine and authentic social enterprises.  All social enterprises must deliver their products and services to market expectations whilst providing measurable positive social impact and maximising sustainability.

Social Traders certification provides this distinction.

Social Traders certification gives potential buyers the confidence to use social enterprises in their supply chains.  WorkVentures views Government legislation as an embryotic process only and social enterprises need to take ownership of the process and deliver results.

  • What do you – as a social enterprise – need most to be able to capitalise on winning new work from business and government buyer members?

Introductions to potential procurement teams and buyers to determine their current and long-term needs and requirements.  This should be achieved through:

  1. Targeted and focused opportunities to pitch, and
  2. Social Traders playing a role to ensure that the needs of potential buyers are met.

At times we have been invited to pitch not knowing the buyers and their needs and have missed the mark.  I expect as the social procurement market matures both buyers and suppliers will develop an enhanced dialogue and understanding of each other’s needs.

  • What is the most rewarding aspect about your work?

Working at WorkVentures offers the best of two worlds; technically being able to provide high quality IT products and services, and being part of a team providing real and positive social impact.

In my time with WorkVentures I have witnessed over 70,000 PC desktop packages and laptops going out the door and into homes and other not-for-profits.  I have worked with, trained and coached young people who have often taken the first steps to engage with the workforce or pulled themselves from some dire personal situations and need a ‘leg-up’ to gain employment.

At WorkVentures I use and impart my technical knowledge and experience ensuring customers’ needs and requirements are met and that these attributes are being passed directly or indirectly onto young people working, completing training or vocational experience with us.  It is highly satisfying to see a young person begin to understand the real world concepts of the employer-employee relationship and what part they need to play to obtain meaningful employment and a career.

Alongside with this is our involvement in sustainability.  Working with corporations and business it is rewarding to see quality technology going to people who otherwise would miss out.  Being part of the team delivering PC’s, laptops and support, rather than seeing it go to recycling or landfill, provides a sense of community that I would otherwise find hard to achieve along with my other commitments outside of work.

To register for Social Traders certification please click on the button below.

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