Skip to main content

Social Enterprises

Social Enterprises play a valuable role in the economic, environmental and social well-being of the community, and often have a strong focus on vulnerable members of our community.

Social enterprises at the City of Whittlesea 


The City of Whittlesea recognises the value and impact social enterprises can achieve in addressing social needs, strengthening communities and improving people’s life through empowerment, participation and developing individual capabilities.

Social enterprises employ innovative market solutions to achieve social impact. We appreciate the dual value creation (social and economic) which social enterprises generate and therefore recognise that this sector needs a supportive and dynamic ecosystem to support its unique mission, goals and business models.

City of Whittlesea has a diverse local economy, including 17 existing or developing social enterprises, whose primary purpose to deliver social and/or environmental outcomes. To achieve this, these businesses primary source of income is through commercial activity. In other words, social enterprises are businesses like any other, but they exist to create social or environmental impact.

A directory of known or developing social enterprises are listed here. These social enterprises employ over 210 employees and provide over 600 volunteer roles. These enterprises are tackling a range of social & environmental outcomes, including:

  • Create meaningful jobs and employment pathways for people who face barriers
  • Empower migrant communities with essential life skills, foster inclusivity, and enhance their overall wellbeing
  • Wellbeing at home & equity of access to services, including transport equity
  • Deliver a holistic approach to addressing the water safety and swimming needs of diverse communities
  • Reuse and divert from landfill, tackle poverty for children and families, plus providing skilled training and employment opportunities
  • Fostering First Nation People's Connection to Country, revegetation and conservation
  • Improve participation in sport, reduce environmental waste and provide employment/training for people facing barriers
  • Employment for people with disability, including people in wheelchairs.

Social enterprises defined

Generally, there are three main social enterprise types (see below) and depending on the type of social enterprise will require different business models.



Social enterprise sector (scope)

Social enterprises are commercially viable businesses existing to benefit the public and the community, rather than shareholders and owners.

Social enterprise is a descriptive term for a range of businesses prioritising social goals, rather than a legal form in itself. In the Australian context, social enterprises take on a range of organisational legal structures, making it difficult to distinguish them from other organisations. Social Traders has developed a definition based on Australia’s landmark research Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector (FASES) conducted in 2010 and 2016 and benchmarked against international standards:

  • The enterprise has a defined primary social purpose, environmental or other public benefit
  • The enterprise derives a substantial portion of its income from trade
  • The enterprise reinvests 50% or more of annual profits towards achieving the social purpose

You can find out more from Social Traders, The Victorian Government and SENVIC.

The Social Enterprise sector is growing in Australia. Social Traders recently released PACE23 publication that captures the scope and size of Australia’s certified social enterprises. The publication says "this sector has a national annual spend of $690M on delivering impact, with over three quarters of revenue coming from commercial activities. Many social enterprises have as their mission to provide supported employment for people that face barriers." PACE23, states that “almost half the people employed in these social enterprises would otherwise be shut out of work.”

A recent report by White Box Enterprises, undertook a comparative study between social enterprises and the Disability Employment Services (DES) to support people back into the labour market and it found social enterprises out-performed DES, on retention, individual earnings and cost savings to government.

It found individuals fare better, with employee retention after 26 weeks with a social enterprise is at 86%, compared to DES at 37%. They are earning more, individuals are estimated to earn $28,000 in their first 12 months, 28% more than the average DES participant. They start work sooner - When individuals are employed with a social enterprise, paid employment at full award wages and training start simultaneously.


Social enterprise resources

Victorian Government support

For Social Enterprise | Social Traders

The Social Enterprise Network of Victoria

Social Enterprise Australia

Social Startup Studio

White Box Enterprises | Providing jobs-focused social enterprises with the tools to scale

Impact Investing | Social Ventures Australia

Legal advice and education from Justice Connect 

B Corporations

Social Change Central's Social Enterprise Opportunities Portal

Find out more

Get the latest business news sent straight to your inbox including announcements, initiatives, training, funding, events and networking opportunities