A cheat-sheet of great opportunities for Australian Social Enterprises

This is an exciting time to be founding or growing a social enterprise in Australia, with a rapid build-out of a supportive ecosystem of organisations here to help entrepreneurs and enterprises succeed. As about 1/3 of our projects are currently from Australia (which makes it our equal biggest market with the US) and we have members of our team there who keep abreast of such things, we thought it would be worth summarising these opportunities as a cheat-sheet for Aussie entrepreneurs.

This is the first of a series of posts which will provide similar cheat-sheets for the US, UK, Canada, SE Asia and elsewhere.

Incubators, Accelerators and Leadership Programs

Need to discover your purpose, refine your idea or get serious about scale? Whichever stage you’re at one of the great programs below can help you take that next step!

School for Social Entrepreneurs

The School for Social Entrepreneurs started in the UK and launched in Australia in 2009. It now runs programs in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth, helping aspiring social entrepreneurs to develop a clear theory of change and identify how to move forward with their vision.

Centre for Sustainability Leadership

The Centre for Sustainability Leadership (CSL) is another entrepreneurial leadership program – with a more environmental bent – to help people become “future makers”. They have programs for intrapreneurial leadership as well as a program for rural leaders.


One10 is a new social enterprise accelerator in Melbourne which works closely with enterprises to get them growing and ready to raise investment. The One10 accelerator program last for about 12 weeks, the program is tailored to each individual or business. They work to strengthen your market strategy, to help you commercialise, and to support your rapid growth.

Social Traders’ Crunch

The Crunch, run by Social Traders, has been around for five years and has worked with 100 social enterprises. They help participating enterprises grow capacity in creating jobs, business sustainability, waste reduction, accessible housing and more.

Impact Accelerator

Impact Accelerator is a Brisbane-based 20 week program dedicated to supporting social enterprise startup and early stage entrepreneurs achieve sustainable and scalable impact. The program includes 160 direct hours of contact with every social entrepreneur and is great for new, launching enterprises.


INCUBATE is an award-winning startup accelerator and entrepreneur program at the University fo Sydney. INCUBATE fosters a proactive community of entrepreneurs on campus by providing funding, co-working space and mentoring from Australia’s most recognised entrepreneurs to accelerate the growth of high-potential startups. The program is open to students, researchers and alumni at the University of Sydney and is expanding across Australia.

Funding and Investment

Social Enterprises may have a sustainable business model but like many startups you may require investment to fully realise this. If this describes your enterprise here are a few opportunities you should look into.

Dreamstarter by ING DIRECT

Over the past three years ING DIRECT have supported 50 community projects – including many social enterprises – through their Dreamstarter program. If selected they will provide up to half your fundraising goal, then support you to raise the rest on StartSomeGood.

Jamie Green of One Night Stand sleepwear, a social enterprise which raises funds for homeless relief, and who was supported by ING DIRECT’s Dreamstarter.


SEFA –Social Enterprise Finance Australia – is one of Australia’s leading lenders to mission-led organisations. SEFA provides tailored finance solutions to mission led organisations and are deeply committed to fostering positive social and environmental impact. They have recently launched a worlds-first collaboration with StartSomeGood to use crowdfunding success as a qualifying instrument for a loan. Find out more here.

Foresters Community Finance 

Foresters provides community finance loans for social enterprises and non-profit organisations who are looking to grow and develop. These will be on relatively commercial terms.

Myer Innovation Fellowship 

This doesn’t have to be a social enterprise but can be and is one of the great opportunities in the Australian social change sector. The Myer Innovation Fellowships supports Australia’s brightest, self-directed leaders to forge breakthrough solutions and articulate actionable ideas which compel our community to respond. Fellows will take nine months away from their current role to pursue a nascent idea that has the capacity to radically shift our approaches to the challenges facing the social and environmental sectors in Australia today. Fellows will each receive $100,000 for their nine month commitment to the program along with select administrative and operational support.

Local Government Funding

A number of Australian local governments have social enterprise funding programs. At StartSomeGood we’ve worked with the Cities of Melbourne (Pitch for Good), Parramatta (Parramatch) and Fremantle (Freomatch) to showcase great social entrepreneurs and support them to crowdfund additional support, matching that with government funding. So don’t forget to check out your local council for opportunities.

Impact Investment Readiness Fund 

The Impact Investment Readiness Fund provides mission-driven organisations with targeted advice and support to help them secure investment for scaling up their social or environmental impact. The Fund offers grants of up to $100,000 for enterprises to purchase specialised capacity building support from providers such as advisory, financial, intermediary or legal services.


10×10 supports emerging charities and social enterprises across Australia through live crowdfunding events with 100 participants contributing a minimum of $100 and three organisations pitching for their support.

The Funding Network 

TFN is an Australian non-profit organisation that hosts live collective-giving events where like-minded individuals, foundations and corporations come together to create powerful social change. At each event, four social entrepreneurs running grassroots non-profit organisations pitch for funding from a philanthropic audience. In six-minute segments our speakers share their inspiring stories and invite guests to become part of innovative solutions to community issues. TFN has raised $3.1 million for 94 organisations so far.

Crowdfunding with StartSomeGood! 

Have to put this on the list. We love working with social enterprises and help them reach their goals at a very high rate. You don’t necessarily need the approval of institutional investors if you have an engaged community ready to support you and be early adopters of what you’re offering!

Events and Learning Opportunities

Events can be a source of knowledge and of community. They’re how you build your community and where you can find natural partners, collaborators and mentors, as well as where you can learn many of the essential skills to social enterprise success.

General Assembly 

General Assembly transforms thinkers into creators through education and opportunities in technology, business, and design. They offer an incredible array of workshops and courses, on and offline (in Sydney and Melbourne, and another 17 locations worldwide) in everything a startup would need. Coding, design, customer development, marketing, data analytics and more. Doesn’t have a social focus but if you need to skill up on the hard skills to make your vision fly this is the place to look.

Link Festival 

Link Festival is a wonderful conference which covers design, technology and social change, and for the first time this year takes place in Sydney in additional to Melbourne. Link bring together Australia’s leading and emerging social innovators and future makers along with students, startups and academics. Link 2016 takes place the first week of March and you can still get a ticket.

Nexus Youth Summit 

Nexus is a global movement to bridge communities of wealth and social entrepreneurship. Nexus works to unite young investors, social entrepreneurs and allies to catalyse new leadership and accelerate global solutions. Applications have closed for the next Nexus Youth Summit Australia in March but it’s worth keeping an eye on the network of Nexus events happening around the world.

Social Enterprise Awards 

The Social Enterprise Awards recognise and celebrate excellence in social enterprise in Australia. As the only national awards, this is your opportunity to tell your social enterprise story and be recognised for leading the way in addressing social, environmental or community issues. The awards take place towards the end of the year and are organised by Social Traders.

Entrepreneurs & Co 

Entrepreneurs & Co hold monthly events in Melbourne which focus on how to start, fundraise for and grow a social enterprise.

Sprout Summit 

Sprout Summit is a one-day event for emerging leaders who want to create positive impact by joining a non-profit board or starting their own non-profit or social enterprise. Sprout Summit will equip emerging leaders with the practical tools, processes and insights to create positive impact and drive successful change.

Their next conference is in Melbourne in July.


StartSomeGood CEO Tom Dawkins presenting at Sprout Summit last year.


In additional to their accelerator One10 run regular events and workshops about pitching, fundraising, building product and other key entrepreneurial topics, mostly in Melbourne.

IMPACT Social Enterprise National Conference 

IMPACT Social Enterprise holds a national conference in August each year for young innovators around the country to come together and engage with the idea of social enterprise. They introduce participants to the knowledge and skills required for tackling social problems with business models and innovation, and support these young people as they develop enterprises.


The first Purpose conference took place in December and was wonderful. Wildwon, the team behind it, have made no commitments about doing it again but I’m sticking this here in the hope they do. If they do you should go.

The author of this article is StartSomeGood. It was originally posted here.

StartSomeGood is the crowdfunding platform for social enterprise, non-profits and community groups. We’ve funded projects in 35 countries and have one of the best success rates in crowdfunding. www.startsomegood.com