Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

LAUNCH | Social Traders

John attended the Brisbane launch of Social Traders the other day. Social Traders is an independent company established in 2008 to facilitate, support and advocate for the development of social enterprise in Australia. Set up as a unique collaboration between the Victorian Government and a private Foundation the company is the commissioner for a major research project, Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector (FASES) being conducted through Australian Centre for Philanthropic and Nonprofit Studies at QUT. Jo Barraket is heading up a team that will provide the hard data on the social enterprises of Australia.

Social Traders Managing Director, David Brookes also gave some details about an upcoming Social Enterprise World Forum in October 2009 and introduced John Montague who is the CEO of the UK based Trees Group. The Trees Group is a model of social enterprise and consists of four trading companies, Newlife (construction), Thorpete (gas installation and servicing), Highpoint (conference and events) and Ground Control (landscaping maintenance) as well as a range of small community business including a Fish and Chip shop and an opportunity shop. The Group is employing over 110 people from a range of disadvantaged backgrounds and had a turnover of 8.5 million pounds in 2008.

John Montague and his team run the businesses as businesses that have to make a profit and that profit is invested back into the operations and expansion. He insists that the market will not buy from a social enterprise just to feel good about itself but because the product is excellent and the service is exemplary. Realistic approaches to business with social and economic outcomes are providing employees with avenues to start their own businesses or re-enter mainstream employment markets.


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