Social and impact enterprise in Brisbane

Brisbane residents are becoming increasingly aware of the impact our day-to-day choices have on our community and environment. With increased awareness comes change in our values, behaviours and expectations as consumers. Brisbane businesses are adpating to these changes, with social and impact enterprises leading the way. These businesses envision a 'new economy' that is not just measured in terms of profit, but impact to people, place and planet.

What are social and impact enterprises?

Social enterprise

A social enterprise is a business with the primary goal of advancing a social cause. Social enterprises can be categorised as businesses which:

  • employ and train people who would otherwise experience barriers to long-term, meaningful employment
  • offer a product or service that directly addresses a social or environmental need
  • aim to generate income to invest into a specific social cause.

Impact enterprise

Similar to a social enterprise, an impact enterprise aims to improve the world we live in, but it's not their only goal. Impact enterprises try to balance social and financial outcomes. Impact enterprises don't need to follow a particular business model, but need to demonstrate two key attributes:

  • an ambition to do good - socially, economically, culturally or environmentally
  • operate through trade, rather than grants or funding.

Council support

Social procurement

Brisbane City Council is committed to supporting social and impact enterprises and their ambitions to improve Brisbane to make it more liveable, sustainable and inclusive.

To help support these enterprises, Council has included social procurement objectives into its procurement policy. Find out how Council works with and sources socially conscious suppliers on our social enterprise opportunities page.

Lord Mayor's Business Awards 

Council promotes and showcases social enterprises through a specific award category in the Lord Mayor's Business Awards - Hutchinson Builders Social Enterprise Award.

Past winners

Other resources

Queensland Social Enterprise Council (QSEC)

QSEC provides access to resources for all Queensland social enterprises, including information for starting a social enterprise. Established social enterprises can access information on upcoming events, and member benefits such as networking and connection opportunities and sector advocacy. 

Social Enterprise Australia

Social Enterprise Australia is Australia's peak body for businesses that do good. It seeks to unify social enterprises across the country and is working to develop a national strategy. 

Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF)

SEWF began in 2008 to provide a global platform for:

  • social enterprise leaders
  • community leaders
  • philanthropists
  • investors
  • academics
  • policy makers

committed to social and environmental impact to network and collaborate.

This global event travels to a different city each year, bringing together key stakeholders to progress the global transition to a new economy, where Earth's resources are protected and all people can thrive.

SEWF has been held in Australia twice - in Melbourne in 2009 and Brisbane in 2022. It now has an online community which increases global access to network, share ideas and collaborate to progress the goal of a more equitable and sustainable world.

Social Traders

Social Traders aims to make social enterprise 'the norm'. They do this by providing businesses and governments with the resources to help embed social enterprises into supply chains and advocating for policies that support social procurement. They also offer Australia's only social enterprise certification.

If your business operates for good and generates most of its income from trade, you can consider becoming certified through Social Traders to gain better access to social procurement opportunities and to build trust in your brand.

How you can support social and impact enterprises

Consume sustainably - do your research

Before buying from a business, research them to see if their values align with your own.​​​​​​

Is the business verified or certified as a socially responsible or sustainable business? 


  • There are many verification and certification programs, each with different measures and levels of rigour.
  • Certification can be resource intensive for businesses, which may prevent some socially conscious enterprises becoming certified.

The following websites may help your research:

Learn more about the 'new economy'

New, progressive ideas, attitudes and technological developments continue to shift our economic patterns.

Learn more about the work of social and impact enterprises and the 'new economy' with the websites like the ones listed below:

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Topics: business

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