Social and community enterprise

Social enterprise is a concept which uses a business model to meet a social need or aspiration. Social enterprises are designed to be self-funding or recover the costs associated with meeting community, cultural, economic and environmental needs.

Through the use of social enterprise, communities and individuals become empowered to:

  • create the change they want to see in their world
  • more effectively deliver community outcomes
  • meet urgent social priorities
  • generate sustainability in social programs
  • reduce their dependence on external funding.

Central Coast Council offers a range of programs as part of the Central Coast Regional Social Enterprise Strategy. These:

  • promote economic sustainability in the social sector
  • increase the social and community benefits generated by local enterprises
  • support the development of innovative new enterprise models within the region.

Social Enterprise Program - Launch Pad

Launch Pad is a program that supports the growth of local social enterprises.

Do you have a great idea to create your own business or charitable venture; make a difference in your community; or get paid to do what you love? Then it's time to do something about it!

Turn your ideas and dreams into reality and develop the skills you need to develop a business model, business plan, get grant-ready or get your new venture off the ground with the Launch Pad, a FREE social enterprise development program provided by Council for local aspiring social entrepreneurs. Surround yourself with like minds!

Program Schedule

27 March – Step 1: Ideas to Action canvas
10 April – Step 2: Understanding your impact
24 April – Step 3: Pitch and Purpose
8 May – Step 4: Lead by Story
22 May – Step 5: Social Media makes it
5 June – Step 6: The Essentials
26 June – Pitch: Ready to Launch

All sessions 9.30am-1.30pm or 5.30-8.30pm.

For more information on how to participate, contact our Community Enterprise Officer Adele Johns.

Places for your business

Incubation spaces for retail

Council has partnered with various shopping centres across the Central Coast to provide free shopfronts as incubation spaces for social enterprise retail initiatives.

This is a great chance to maximise exposure and build your concept while working from one of the region's major retail centres.

For more information contact our Community Enterprise Officer.

Smart Work Hub - Gosford

The Gosford Smart Work Hub is a space where small business owners and start-up entrepreneurs can work, be connected to fast Wi-Fi and be surrounded by like minds to share ideas, concepts and business acumen in a professional yet relaxed environment. The Smart Work Hub offers all the convenience of an office facility without the commitment of an expensive lease.

Social Entrepreneur Network – creating meaningful connections

If you're an entrepreneur involved with a community group or business person committed to making a difference within our community, keep an eye out for our peer-to-peer network events, particularly The ‘Power Hour Series’. Find out about the latest development in the sector and the resources and support available for Central Coast social enterprises. For more information, email us to be added to our database.

Social Enterprise regional strategy

There has been a growing interest around social enterprise on the Central Coast over the last eight years. The Social Enterprise Strategy for the Central Coast (2011), was developed with input from a variety of local, state and federal government departments, non-government organisations, the business and community sectors. Contact our Community Enterprise Officer for more information.

Social Procurement - boosting our local economy

By purchasing quality goods or services that also produce positive social outcomes, we can strengthen local economic development, open new opportunities for employment or enhance local skill development. Purchasing with purpose and understanding how the choices you make in spending can have a positive impact in contributing to our social economy.

Social Procurement in NSW: a Guide to Achieving Social Value through Public Sector Procurement is the culmination of a 12-month partnership of local, state and federal governments across the Central Coast, Sydney and the Illawarra, working together to promote social procurement in NSW.

    Grant and funding options

    Success stories

    Social enterprises fulfil a broad range of community needs, priorities and aspirations in every industry sector.

    Read some of these great examples of Central Coast businesses making a difference through social enterprise:

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    Fairhaven ReCreate - Turning the tables

    By definition, a social enterprise works toward solving a problem in society. But the entrepreneurs at ReCreate, an upcycling workshop on the Central Coast, go a step further – or make that two steps further – by tackling three core issues at once!

    Combined goals

    With a primary purpose of creating much needed employment opportunities for people living with disability, ReCreate’s business model aims to reduce waste by transforming materials such as reclaimed timbers and pallets into beautiful furniture and homeware pieces.

    The creative social enterprise also upcycles donated items into freshly imagined fashion, gifts and homewares.

    ReCreate is part of the not-for-profit organisation Fairhaven, who offer the benefit tri-factor by offering employment, lifestyle and accommodation services for people living with disability. A real win-win-win scenario.

    Everything old is new again

    One of the keys to ReCreate’s success is the Op Shop, where tons of used goods are donated each year. In some cases, pieces can simply be on-sold or cleaned up a little for resale. The remaining items are surveyed by the creative team who reimagine a new life for each.

    This may be an entirely reinvented product or a beautifully upcycled item. The creative leads include Scott Creagh in the furniture workshop and Judy Delbridge who manages all craft and homewares.

    “We get some wonderful donations, so the creative process is always fun!” said Ms Delbridge. “It can be a bit of a juggling act to balance the capacity of the team with an item’s potential, but that’s also what keeps in interesting.”

    Ms Delbridge said ReCreate tries to do everything possible to reduce landfill and promote a circular economy in which ‘everything old is new again’. Every item is hand crafted by people living with various types of disabilities, all with the support by a truly creative crew.

    “It’s joyful to see how satisfying it is for our team to make the amazing things they do, as well as how well received they are by the public”.

    Balancing financial and social outcomes

    Ms Delbridge said that many disability service organisations do not offer supported employment as it is notoriously difficult to build a sustainable business model in the commercial sector. However, Fairhaven see this as a central philosophy.

    “A work environment doesn’t just offer meaning and purpose, it often leads to enriching friendships and relationships that generate community and belonging.”

    In order to hit the financial sweet spot, the ReCreate team look for pieces that offer the most engagement with their supported workforce, and don’t require too much overhead in order to be sold at an affordable price through the retail shop in Point Clare.

    “We also cut our costs by having no middle man and it helps that the raw materials are essentially free,” said Ms Delbridge.

    Expanding production

    A new ReCreate website and online shop is due to launch in early 2019 allowing the team to scale up production. This builds on their success with pop up shops in both the Imperial Centre in Gosford and at Erina Fair.

    “We’ve also had great success refitting restaurants such as Coast Bar and Grill and Avoca Surf House,” said Ms Delbridge, “and helping fit-out another great social enterprise in our area, Gosford’s Tiny Homes project.”

    The team also builds custom made-to-order pieces using upcycled pallets, reclaimed timber and the odd repurposed piece of furniture. Their unique pieces have found their way into homes, events, retail, hospitality and office fit-outs since its inception following the 2016 Launch Pad Program.

    The key to success

    “Do your business case first!” advises Ms Delbridge. “We learnt the hard way with some of our enterprises, and it is all about striking the balance between viability and impact. But essentially, if you have a good idea, then go for it!

    “There are lots of opportunities on the Central Coast and we have had great support from businesses, Council and the public. Now we really can lead the way, limited only by our imagination!”

    Roundabout Circus - Achieving the impossible

    Teaching juggling and acrobatics to impoverished children in Nicaragua isn’t your everyday job. But for Andy and Rachel Peters it was an eye-opening experience as to how circus skills can help transform the lives of those in need.

    Less than three months after returning to the Central Coast, the enigmatic duo had started up their own circus skills workshop, Roundabout Circus. Designed for all ages from 3 years to 60+, the social enterprise runs weekly classes, school holiday workshops, community performances and open circus jams where anyone can come along and get involved or try a new skill.

    Benefits For Those In Need

    Having seen the huge impact the program can have on underprivileged children while traveling with Performers Without Borders in Nicaragua, Andy and Rachel also run numerous programs for disadvantaged groups throughout the central coast.

    “We use the revenue from our normal operations, to help subsidise classes for those with special needs,” said Rachel. “The key benefit of our circus skills is to show how something that seems impossible becomes achievable when it’s broken up into smaller steps. This message is true for all our participants, but especially true for those who live with a disability or other difficulties.”

    The inspirational couple also run dedicated workshops for other worthwhile organisations around the Coast, including Life Without Barriers and Central Coast Occupational Therapy. They offer discounted rates for these workshops to make the circus program as accessible to as many people as possible.

    “For those who may feel undervalued or outcast from society, showing their new skills to the community can transform perceptions, held by both themselves and others, of what these amazing people can accomplish,” said Rachel.

    “There are so many benefits. Even just the performing itself is a confidence booster.”

    Spreading the Circus Experience

    Less than two years after the first class started in February 2017, Roundabout Circus now runs more than 1,000 classes throughout the year, alongside dozens of other workshops, programs and events.

    A recent primetime circus workshop at Brentwood village helped teach circus skills to those in their 70s!

    One of our core focuses is on keeping it a “Social Circus,” said Rachel. “The emphasis and benefits are all about participating, not on who is the best performer.

    “We also try to keep the classes as affordable as we can, including concession prices and payment plans.”

    Rachel and Andy said that the Central Coast Council’s Launchpad Program really helped them progress their joint hobby into a full time sustainable business. The couple admit that it was quite the journey to get where they are now, but with eight part time teachers and more than 5,000 people experiencing their brand of circus every year, it’s become an undeniable success.

    “We’ve have a beautiful community here who are really supporting of socially aware groups. And there’s so much connectivity between all the different groups and communities within the Central Coast.”

    Andy, a former radiation therapist, and Rachel, a former dietitian, both feel they have found their calling in life. For anyone else who is thinking of starting a social enterprise, their advice is simple: “If you’re passionate about it you can make anything work!”

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    Last updated : Tue 9 Apr 2019