Why the SE Awards? Why now?
Social Traders’ Social Enterprise Awards are open for applications until Friday 28 March www.seawards.com.au
The Social Enterprise Awards are underway for the second year and, so far, we’ve been incredibly encouraged by the enthusiasm from the sector. The Awards present an incredible opportunity to celebrate social enterprise and play a part in the growth of the social enterprise movement, which is seemingly growing its influence day by day. But why an Awards campaign and why now?
There are no other Awards in Australia dedicated to social enterprise. The Awards present an opportunity to build the collective identity of social enterprise in Australia. Social enterprise might be seen as an unrelated, disparate group of businesses operating in all sectors, right across the country, embracing different business forms and social causes. They’re businesses that sometimes, on the face of it have greater resemblance to their commercial counterparts than to each other – until you get down to their DNA which is grounded in community need.
The Awards are an opportunity to inform and grow the participating social enterprises through their involvement. The judging panel is selected for diversity and industry leadership with the guidance of a social enterprise sector Advisory Panel. Prizes are designed to enable and motivate capability building for entire organisations, not just individuals. The Awards Master-class will be a lively conference, delivered to develop practical skills and facilitate meaningful networks. The Social Enterprise Awards exist to not just celebrate success but accelerate it.
How better to truly determine our industry champions than through an independent assessment process carried out by representatives from business, philanthropy, academia and the third sector. In 2013 101 applications were submitted to the Awards representing every state in Australia and spanning an incredible range of industries. This year our call for applications has gone out further and the application period is longer, so that more social enterprises have an opportunity to submit. The wealth of experience and knowledge that informs our judging panel ensures that the organisations chosen do not win for their ability to tell a good story and get press but because their mission, business structure and financial success is deemed the best by external sources.
The Social Enterprise Awards were created to progress the sector’s profile and credibility. Winners and shortlisted enterprises are empowered to pursue greater success through external validation, relative to their peers. By demonstrating the strength of the contenders and rigor of the selection process, enterprises can be confident that their recognition is verified and valued. Similarly investors and consumers can be assured that the enterprises are delivering measurable social benefit through their work.
Social enterprise in Australia is growing out of necessity due to policy change and community need. Organisations are not responding with panic but developing sustainable, innovative businesses that are financially successful and deserve recognition in their own right. The Social Enterprise Awards are there to deliver that.
This article also appeared on Pro Bono Australia, 6 March 2014.