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Indigenous and employment start-ups stand out in latest social enterprise accelerator intake

Monday, 9 December 2013 | By Rose Powell

Fifteen start-ups have been announced as successful applicants for the Crunch Accelerator program, a six-month intensive incubator program that turns social ideas into enterprises within 12 months.


The program, run by Social Traders, a not-for-profit consulting group specialising in creating commercial viability for social start-ups, received over 80 applications.


The start-ups represent a range of industries including education and employment training, fashion and theatre, waste and recycling, programs to empower African migrant taxi drivers, day care and food security.

Lisa Boothby, head of enterprise investment readiness, told StartupSmart they were thrilled by the diversity of the program, and especially excited to welcome two start-ups focusing on indigenous issues.


“Social enterprise is gaining momentum and it’s finding its feet in lots of different places,” Boothby says. “Increasingly people are looking to the long term social solutions these kinds of companies can supply. The sector is definitely getting bigger, with a lot of new start-ups but also a lot of larger non-profits who are looking to social enterprise to create an untied revenue stream or create social outcomes they otherwise couldn’t create.”


Based on the applications, Boothby believes employment training and generating companies will be a key growth segment for the social enterprise sector in the coming years.


The 15 start-ups are readying themselves for the program, which Boothby says requires considerable flexibility and resilience. While most of the entrepreneurs are across the complexities of the social issue they’re tackling, Boothby says learning the business fundamentals can be a “180 degree spin” for program participants.


“Rather than going for grants and spending it, they have to learn how to access the market and get people to pay for their product ahead of all the other options,” Boothby says.


“From the other rounds, we know the successful social entrepreneurs are people who have flexibility in the way they think, so they can respond to the market properly. It can be quite tough when the market doesn’t like what you’re offering, no matter how great your cause is. You need to get back on your feet and change what you’re doing.


This is the fourth session of the Crunch program. Out of the earlier 23 participants, 11 are now trading and have raised over $2 million worth of investment.


When applications for this round opened in July, managing director David Brookes told StartupSmart they were looking for good ideas with market potential to ensure the start-up would be able to eventually source the majority of its revenue from the market.


“We need to be confident the idea has potential to be commercially viable without ongoing reliance on government and philanthropic grants,” Brookes said.