What is a Social Enterprise?

Social Enterprise businesses (also known as Social Benefit businesses) are businesses just like any other, but they exist specifically to improve the world.

Whilst purpose is at the heart of why a social enterprise business operates, it can be hard to quantify or explain. If you think you may be a social enterprise business or are looking to start a social enterprise business, we would like to hear from you.

A social enterprise can be defined as a business that:

  1. Has a defined primary social, cultural, or environmental purpose consistent with a public or community benefit, and
  2. Derive a substantial portion of their income from trade, and
  3. Invest efforts and resources into their purpose such that public/community benefit outweighs private benefit.

Social enterprises operate in all industry sectors of the economy. There are three social enterprise impact models:

  1. Employment-generating - creates employment and training opportunities for marginalised people.
  2. Community need - delivers accessible products and services to meet community needs
  3. Profit redistribution - donates a percentage of profits or revenue to charity.

Bayside Council is a member of the SECNA Local Government Community of Practice, a group of Local Government professionals that meet quarterly to discuss social procurement, grants, in-kind support and navigation for social enterprises, events, and more.

Resources for Social Enterprise Community


    Social Enterprise Council for NSW and ACT (SECNA) is a sector-led peak body that represents the interests of social entrepreneurs and social enterprises across NSW and ACT.

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  • Social Traders

    Social Traders connect, recognise, and certify social enterprises across Australia. Support resources are available on their website.

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  • Impact Boom

    Impact Boom is a B Corporation and certified social enterprise focused on the support and development of social enterprise globally.

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  • Social Change Central

    Social Change Central (SCC) is Australia’s first dedicated online hub for social enterprises. SCC connects, encourages and supports social enterprises and aspiring entrepreneurs through an easy-to-use, comprehensive self-service database which collates the most up-to-date opportunities available in Australia and internationally.

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  • Social Startup Studio

    The Social Startup Studio helps build impactful and sustainable social enterprises. They offer evidence-based, practical support, mostly for startups – but help existing social enterprises too.

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  • Social Impact Hub

    Social Impact Hub specialises in supporting the social enterprise ecosystem. As a leading provider for the Impact Investment Ready Growth Grants, they have deep expertise helping social enterprises to prepare for and raise impact investment.

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