A sustainable produce garden for a social enterprise café, an online shop exclusively for ethically-produced fashion and a dance troupe that gives people with disabilities the chance to shine have triumphed in a high-stakes contest for social entrepreneurs.
Marking the launch of a new partnership between the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) and the Qantas Foundation, ‘Turbocharge Your Venture’ saw some of Australia’s brightest young social entrepreneurs pitching for one of three $20,000 grants for their social ventures.
Contestants were shortlisted from FYA’s Young Social Pioneers program, which supports young leaders of social change to develop leadership and operational capacities so they can lead sustainable organisations.
Over an intensive weekend, 18 ‘pioneers’ were coached by corporate mentors from Qantas, JBWere, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Accenture, K&L Gates, QBE and Xero to develop and perfect their pitches, which were then scored against leadership, business purpose, measurable change and innovation criteria.
Scott Duncan, 28, co-founder of Feast of Merit, won the pitching session and walked away with $20,000 to develop a sustainable garden of produce for the popular new social enterprise eatery, which invests all of its profits into poverty-alleviation projects run by YGAP (Y-Generation Against Poverty).
“The triple bottom line model of people, planet and profit is essential for survival on this wondrous earth,” said Mr Duncan. “We are only at the early adoption stage, just wait until this becomes mainstream,” he said.
Five runners-up were then given another shot at $20,000, this time pitching via video, with one winner selected by Qantas staff and one selected in a vote open to the public.
Edda Hamar, the 24-year-old founder of Undress Runways, won the public’s vote for her pitch to open ‘The Undress Shop’, an online store that will stock only ethical and sustainable fashion.
Ali Phillips, 22, is the founder of Bust a Move Dance, an inclusive dance troupe that gives young people with disabilities a chance to develop coordination, team work skills, creativity and emotional and social intelligence. Her pitch to develop a video dance package filmed by the Bust a Move troupe won the Qantas Choice Award.
With recent figures from community investment benchmarker LBG showing that Australian companies give less cash and fewer in-kind donations than the global average, FYA’s CEO, Dr Jan Owen AM, said FYA was impressed by the Qantas Foundation’s commitment to backing young Australians with both.
Dr Owen said the partnership’s focus on upskilling social entrepreneurs was timely given that trends in socially responsible investment are increasingly demanding both social and financial returns from social ventures.
“We talk a lot about the increasing pressure on businesses to be socially responsible, but in the same vein there’s huge pressure on social enterprises to be commercially viable,” said Dr Owen. “Pitching for funds encourages social entrepreneurs to crystallise what they’re trying to achieve and how they are contributing to Australia’s social capital.”
Qantas Head of Community, Laura Berry, said Qantas was pleased to partner with the Foundation for Young Australians “Qantas is all about investing in the future of young Australians. We wish each of the award winners well in the exciting and cutting edge business ventures, “she said.