I decided to start a blog on my lived experience of being a social entrepreneur after taking exception to being called a social intrepreneur.
More on that term and my reaction to it later, but first a little about me and my experience of social enterprise:
I was born in the UK and emigrated to Australia just as I was turning thirty. The Sunshine State of Queensland has been my home for 12 years.
I left school with very little qualifications and eventually completed an apprenticeship in Painting and Decorating at Brighton Technical College. I struggled working in the construction industry for a few years until someone with belief in my abilities and intellect encouraged me to try out for university.
I ended up studying Social Policy at the University of Brighton graduating with a BA (Hons). I chose this field of study as I believed in policy based change as a way to address the inequalities evident in Britain during the Thatcher and Major years (and which has probably only got worse in the subsequent years).
Post Uni I worked in a range of social and community work jobs as I wanted to work on the ground with the people affected by lack of good policy; my aim was to gain experience and then get a job in government developing and writing policy. This aim was never reached however, as I discovered social enterprise and was hooked on the theory and practice.
At the time of my epiphany I was working as a community development worker at a local community centre, part of my role was to help develop a community enterprise with people who had started micro businesses in catering and cleaning. I like to tell the story that we used consensus decision making in the businesses but to be honest I think the consensus always leaned in my favour!
After three years of hard work and dedication to the cause I left to set up my own business for an environmental purpose, the Natural Painting People. Our tagline was Brisbane’s Greenest Painters, and we certainly were. There was demand for a paint contracting firm who only used non toxic, eco friendly paints, and within few months we had eight staff and started the planning for opening a retail shop to sell the paint we used in the business. The Green Paint Shop opened in 2007 and was Brisbane’s only paint shop selling exclusively eco friendly paints.
Unfortunately the Green Paint Shop failed financially for a number of reasons which I’ll save for a later post. The Natural Painting People, after some troughs and peaks came to a natural end and I transferred all the IP and equipment to an existing social enterprise hub Spiral Social Enterprise Hub in Brisbane’s West End.
With the experience I had gained over my working life in social / community work, and owning my own businesses I was offered a job leading a social enterprise, SEED PPM based in Sandgate Queensland Australia. https://www.facebook.com/SEEDPPM
We are a business for a social purpose, namely employing people from disadvantaged backgrounds such as people with disabilities – physical, intellectual, and mental; and people from a refugee background. Our business is based around Commercial Landscape Maintenance, Domestic Gardening, and Commercial Cleaning services with a range of clients including government departments, corporates, not for profits, and private customers.