"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses making a difference in our community through social enterprise
By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea
How many businesses do you know that operate with the aim of supporting the community?
Many have heard of the toilet paper company Who Gives A Crap. Last week I was lucky enough to hear their CEO and co-founder, Simon Griffiths, speak at an event where he spoke candidly about how he launched the company by live streaming from a toilet for 50 hours to pre-sell the first $50k of toilet rolls.
Simon and his co-founders, Jehan and Danny, started Who Gives a Crap in 2012 after learning that 2.4 billion people worldwide don’t have access to a toilet. They wanted to make a difference, so they committed to donating 50% of their profits to build toilets and have now donated almost $11 million!
We must ask ourselves how we can apply this to our own community. Every time we turn on the news, we’re bombarded with stories about homelessness, the rising cost of living and the impact on mental health. The opportunity for social enterprises to make real and tangible differences within our community has never been greater.
IMPACT ventured into social enterprise in 2001, partnering with Bundaberg Regional Council to provide jobs for 24 people with a disability, in addition to creating an environmental impact by reducing waste going to landfill. In 2014, we purchased a small 1.5 tonne a month laundry with a vision of providing jobs for people with disability or mental illness. In 2016, IMPACT accelerated the business building its own commercial laundry, New Image Laundry, which now has the capacity to process up to 80 tonne per month. It now employs over 25 people and has major contracts with The Friendlies Hospital and Blue Care.
Our vision of ‘Improving Lives’ is embedded into the DNA of our business and is directly focused on creating social, cultural and environmental impact. We see the change that can be created when people, particularly those who traditionally struggle to enter the workforce, are provided with an opportunity. Pathways to employment are created, workforce participation rates increase, and people become economically independent. Intergenerational welfare dependence patterns are disrupted.
Social enterprise equals good business.
Have an idea for a social enterprise? Currently, IMPACT Community Services is working with StartSomeGood to host Emerge, a program that will teach you how to transform your ideas into a ready to launch social enterprise.
Reach out if you would like to find out more.