Jay and Anne are the co-founders of Social Change Central (SCC), Australia’s first dedicated online hub for social enterprises.
SCC connects, encourages and supports social enterprises and aspiring entrepreneurs through an easy-to-use, comprehensive self-service database which collates the most up-to-date opportunities available in Australia and internationally.
When we last interviewed you in December 2014, you had just launched Promise or Pay – what have you learned about building a social enterprise in the past 2 years? What are the key things you have changed? And what would you do differently next time?
Jay: The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that I will never start and run a venture alone again. Ever. Although I do have fantastic support, Promise or Pay is still a pretty lonely journey. Having Anne as a co-founder for Social Change Central has been an absolute delight. It’s wonderful to have someone to bounce ideas off, share tasks, answer my stupid questions, pick me up when I’m feeling like poop, and keep me focused and grounded.
You’ve just launched Social Change Central. Can you provide an elevator pitch for your new site?
Jay: Social Change Central is Australia’s first dedicated online hub for social enterprises. It connects, encourages and supports social entrepreneurs through an easy-to-use, comprehensive self-service database, which collates the most up-to-date opportunities available in Australia and internationally. From funding to awards, competitions, exposure, programs and more, our mission is to ensure that Australia’s changemakers connect with the support they need to turn their ideas and passion for social change into real social impact.
From funding to awards, competitions, exposure, programs and more, our mission is to ensure that Australia’s changemakers connect with the support they need to turn their ideas and passion for social change into real social impact.
Why did you decide to launch this?
Anne: There has been a lot of growth and interest in the social enterprise sector over the last decade, but the social enterprise ecosystem in Australia is still fragmented and disorganised. Finding funding and other opportunities as a social enterprise or aspiring social entrepreneur is difficult and time-consuming, meaning many promising ideas never get off the ground. The latest opportunities are still typically found via closed Facebook groups, Google searches or organisation-specific newsletters. This challenge is something that Jay and I experienced firsthand in working on our own social enterprise projects. At Social Change Central, we do the legwork, bringing opportunities directly to our changemaker members so they can spend less time searching and more time focusing on their core mission.
At Social Change Central, we do the legwork, bringing opportunities directly to our changemaker members so they can spend less time searching and more time focusing on their core mission.
What are the best online resources for social entrepreneurs?
Jay: There are lots of great online resources available to social entrepreneurs but the world of social entrepreneurship is demanding. You just can’t read everything. At Social Change Central, we have put together a list of must-read resources for social entrepreneur, which provides a good overview of some of the best resources available.
Do you have any social enterprise ideas you’d like to give away for free?
Anne: Social entrepreneurs tend to be very innovative, creative people. There are so many great social enterprise ideas out there, both within Australia and internationally. However, before embarking on setting up a social enterprise, it is important to first do the groundwork on your social model. You need to have a clear understanding of the social or environmental problem you are trying to solve and how your enterprise will help solve it. Social entrepreneurs need to be able to constantly juggle competing business and social objectives, so having clarity on your end goal is essential.
Jay: In my last Ideas Hoist interview for Promise or Pay in December 2014, I literally gave away the idea for Social Change Central: “… someone should start a site/newsletter that compiles an up to date listing of all the potential startup opportunities available in Australia – pitch competitions, hackathons, applications for accelerator programs, ideas contests etc. On the other hand, if someone knows of something like this floating around please let me know!”
Two years on and no-one took it up so we’re doing it.
What role have mentors played in your business life?
Anne: I’ve had a number of mentors over the years and have found them to be an invaluable source of support and encouragement, particularly since moving from law into the social entrepreneurship space.
In large corporate law firms, there tends to be lots of money available for professional development-related activities. However, in the world of social entrepreneurship, where teams are often small and resources tight, you just don’t have that. Both Jay and I are very grateful to the people who helped us get to where we are today and are both very committed to mentoring other social entrepreneurs who are just beginning their own personal journeys.
Jay: For me, accountability is everything. Being held to account to my mentors and advisory board has helped me keep focused on moving forward. It has enabled me to embrace feelings of discomfort, pushed me outside my comfort zone and given me the spark to get me through the rough patches. It’s been amazing to see how much more I get done when I am surrounded by people who care about what I am doing and who keep me accountable and on track. In particular, I am immensely grateful to Chris Barton, Mark Osborn, and Jayson Hornibrook for their ongoing enthusiasm, time, and commitment.
You’ve participated in a number of social enterprise incubators, which have you participated in? And what have you found to be most valuable?
Jay: If you’re an aspiring social entrepreneur here are the social enterprise accelerator programs you should know about. Of the one’s I have participated in, INCUBATE was the most valuable in terms of learning how to rapidly develop and test ideas, better identify potential end-users, develop a sound business model and pitch.
FYA’s Young Social Pioneers was the most valuable in terms of relationships, networks and inspiration.