Inaugural Youth Social Enterprise Conference makes an !mpact

1 Sep 2014

During August 8-10, the inaugural Impact Youth Social Enterprise Conference was launched in Brisbane with 120 participants and 20 facilitators – mostly from The University of Queensland (UQ), Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Griffith University.

Students came from all faculties, with the majority of UQ students from the Faculty of Business, Economics & Law (BEL).

Two UQ students, Lucille Danks (Bachelor of Economics) and Cara Nolan (Bachelor of Science) felt the need to educate young adults about social enterprise, and hence took it upon themselves to establish the conference which took ten long months to create.

With not many aware of what in fact social enterprise is, the girls thought it fit to educate and create awareness about its cause.

Social enterprise is an organisation, usually not-for-profit, that uses business principles to address social issues. An example of this would be to hire homeless people and allow them to work in cafes or restaurants and teach them skills so they can be hired for a better paying job. This then allows them to eventually be self-sufficient and make a living for themselves.

The theme of the inaugural conference was “innovations in the space between charity and business.” The main aim of the conference was to inspire and educate future business and social sector leaders about social enterprise and empower them with the knowledge and pathways required to translate their ambitions into social impact.

On Day 1, participants were able to meet the people they would be working with over the three day conference and were able to introduce ideas they had in mind for creating a social enterprise.

Attendees were treated to a presentation by guest speaker, Elliot Costello, co-founder and CEO of the social enterprise YGAP (Y Generation Against Poverty). YGAP aims to drive social change through the provision of youth education and youth leadership. They use creative fundraising and innovative social enterprising to support poverty alleviating projects across Australia, Asia and Africa. The main aim of YGAP is to empower communities disadvantaged by poverty to become self-sustainable.

On Day 2, attendees heard from two speakers who are co-founders of two social enterprises: Simon Griffiths, co founder of Who Gives A Crap and Daniel Flynn, co founder of Thank you.

Simon is an economist and engineer and has founded Who Gives a Crap. This social enterprise is an environmentally friendly toilet paper business that uses its profits to fund sanitation projects overseas. He also runs a not-for-profit bar Shebeen in Melbourne’s CBD.

The second speaker and a crowd favourite, Daniel, co-founded Thank You at the age of 19.  His social enterprise aims to help people affected by poverty and give them access to basic necessities such as water, food, soap and other consumer products. Flynn was named Victorian Young Australian of the Year and was also awarded the 2013 Victorian Young Achiever of the Year title.

Throughout the conference, each table had to create a ‘pitch’ – a speech to ask for help to establish their social enterprise and then present it to a panel of judges, consisting of social entrepreneurs, members of the Queensland Social Enterprise Council (QSEC) and academics with an interest in social enterprise.

On Day 3, the best 6 (of 30) pitches were selected to go through to the semi-finals where they were required to ‘pitch off’ against each other before a larger group of judges. From this, the three best pitches were selected to go to finals where each one was presented to everyone at the conference.

The winning pitch won a marketing kit, work space and the opportunity to work with a business mentor. The social enterprise that won the pitching competition was Happy Boots, selling gumboots to uni students and festival-goers with proceeds going to mental health services and awareness.

Acknowledgement goes to Lucille Danks, Cara Nolan and the Impact team for coordinating the successful event.  Thanks also go to sponsors of the conference: QSEC, Brisbane City Council, Bank MECU, The University of Queensland, Griffith University, QUT, Creative Enterprise Australia and the Queensland Government.

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