Newly launched social enterprise alliance calls on Australian PM for 'National Impact Fund'

A major new alliance of social enterprise networks launched in Australia this week – and called on the government to create a National Impact Fund to counter the Covid-19 crisis.

ASENA – the Alliance of Social Enterprise Networks Australia – is formed of the seven social enterprise networks in each state and territory, representing the interests of more than 20,000 social enterprises across the country.

Its first action was to call for the creation of a National Social Enterprise Strategy, “following the approach of enabling governments in the UK, Canada and many others”.



In a submission to the Prime Minister’s Social Impact Investing Taskforce, the alliance said the government should develop a 10-year ‘national vision and action plan’ for social enterprise, as well as a ‘social enterprise census’ to measure the contribution of the social enterprise to the country’s economy.

In its launch statement, ASENA said: “2020 has seen disruption to ‘business-as-usual’ in a way that most of us haven’t experienced in our lifetimes. At this time of unprecedented social and economic change, social enterprise networks in each state and territory have united to build a common vision for a better future and form a new national voice for the social enterprise sector.”

Emma-Kate Rose, Chair of Queensland Social Enterprise Council, said: “The social enterprise sector has come together at this critical juncture to form new collaborations and support resilience, jobs, and impact investment into the areas most needed in our communities now.

Cinnamon Evans, Chair of the Social Enterprise Network Victoria, said: “The Australian Government has an opportunity to take a fundamentally different, market-based approach to addressing our social and economic priorities by directly investing in and supporting social enterprise as a new economic reality emerges from this Covid crisis.”

The Australian Government has an opportunity to take a fundamentally different approach... by directly investing in social enterprise.

Mikey Leung, Executive Coordinator of the Social Enterprise Council of NSW and ACT, said Australia had seen two major disasters in 2020 – the widespread and devastating bushfires, followed by the Covid-19 crisis. He said these had “highlighted the importance of building an economic system that builds resilience and creates opportunities for all of our diverse regions and populations, without harming our environment or our people”.

Dr Sharon Zivkovic from the South Australia Social Enterprise Council said an enabling approach from government could help social enterprises “play a significant role in addressing Australia’s most complex wicked problems”.

Sven Stenvers, of the Western Australia Social Enterprise Council, said: “These could range from employment-based social enterprises which can support people suffering disadvantage while relocalising manufacturing industries, through to technology designed to build community connection and foster positive change, and regenerative agriculture businesses which have the capacity to transform our food system and support resilience across supply chains. All of this will have significant positive environmental impact to match.”

Alexis Seller, from the Northern Territory’s Impact North, said: “Today’s launch of the Alliance of Social Enterprise Networks Australia sees a high leverage point for positive action towards creating a new economy for a fair and inclusive Australia that is ecologically and economically sustainable. This alliance brings renewed focus on national collaboration to drive this action.”

The founding members of ASENA are: QSEC (Queensland Social Enterprise Council), SENVIC (Social Enterprise Network Victoria), SECNA (Social Enterprise Council of NSW & ACT), Impact North (NT), SASEC (South Australian Social Enterprise Council), and WASEC (WA Social Enterprise Council).


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Photo credit: Digital Storytellers.