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Social Entrepreneurship

I spoke in parliament yesterday about social entrepreneurship in Canberra, discussing a breakfast meeting with social entrepreneurs and the Ben Donohue Walk and Run for Fun.

Social Entrepreneurs, 27 November 2012

On 16 October this year I held a breakfast meeting with a small but passionate group of local social entrepreneurs: Bradley Carron-Arthur, Courtney Slone, Katrina Marson, Melanie Poole, Tony Shields and Ben Moody. The aim of the breakfast was to bring together these social entrepreneurs to share their stories, experiences and their ideas for solving some of the challenges they face. I hope in the future they can act as a brains trust for one another and for other budding social entrepreneurs. Their projects range from coordinating volunteers and boosting mental health awareness to improving Australia’s international development efforts. I would like to thank them for their ideas and their efforts to assist those in need and for helping to build social capital. Social entrepreneurs are people who take an idea and with passion and persistence bring to fruition enterprises that assist those in need.

Last year Forbes magazine celebrated the work of social entrepreneurs by having the first top 30 social entrepreneurs list. Helen Costar of Forbes magazine wrote that social entrepreneurs ‘unlike millions of us who recognise some kind of a problem, feel a pang of hopelessness and move on’ set about fixing the problems they see in the world.

One great example of social entrepreneurship in my electorate is the Ben Donohue Run and Walk for Fun. Now in its eighth year, the Ben Donohue Run and Walk for Fun is one of the largest fun runs in the region. On 4 November ‘team Leigh’ joined a record 2,400 people for the six kilometre circuit around Lake Ginninderra. This year we were pleased to help the run and walk raise over $55,000.

Since its inception, the Ben Donohue Run and Walk for Fun has donated over $350,000 to its nominated charities: the Council Support Council, Ronald McDonald House Canberra and Make a Wish Australia. It has greatly helped families affected by cancer through the most difficult time and brought hope and joy to the lives of seriously ill children. I pay tribute to Ben’s extraordinary parents Peter and Robin Donohue who organised the first event just months after Ben’s passing. They really are social entrepreneurs that exemplify what can be achieved by those who set about fixing the problems they see.

Finally, I recognise the members of team Leigh who joined me on the Ben Donohue fun run: Kate Reid, Liesel Hickman, Shane Drumgold, Nathan Lambert, Gus Little, Emily Murray, Michael and Paul Hiscox, Alice Wade, Michael Petterson, Kurt Steel, Alice Crawford, Ethan Moody, Shobaz Kandola, David Mathews, Victor Violante, Megan Ponder, Brenton Sloane and the indefatigable Claire Daly from my office, who recruited and organised this year’s splendid team.

One Comment

  1. I join you in applauding the charitable works of many young people in the community. However, I must take issue with your description of the Ben Donohue Fun Run as a social enterprise. Social enterprise is about using sustainable business models to create economic opportunity for those who face barriers to mainstream economic participation. In our community, those people are those with mental, physical disabilities and those from indigenous backgrounds. Our social enterprise based in Kaleen, No Sweat Fashions, creates employment and training opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers here in Canberra. We are not-for-profit and we have a social mission. We also have a ‘profit motive’ in the sense that we are interested in our own sustainability which can only be assured by profitable trading. I think you would agree that this is slightly different to volunteers that raise money for a charitable cause on an annual basis.

    Here is a list of the social enterprise projects in Canberra currently supported by Social Ventures Australia http://www.socialventures.com.au/employment/social-enterprise-hubs/the-act-hub/#Which_social_enterprises_are_currently_supported