The New South Wales government has inked a deal with an organisation that provides certification to social enterprises and connects them to procurement opportunities.
Finance and small business minister Damien Tudehope on Wednesday said the agreement with Social Traders would make it easier for the state government to secure goods and services from social enterprises.
“Social Traders certifies and maintains a list of entities that meet recognised social enterprise requirements and NSW government departments can now access and use this information to increase the social impact of their procurements,” he said.
“COVID-19 has hit many businesses, including the social enterprise sector. This agreement will enable NSW government departments to use their procurement spend to support social enterprises and create employment opportunities for some of our community members most impacted by COVID-19.”
Social Traders defines social enterprises as purpose-driven businesses that trade to “tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people with access to employment and training, or help the environment”. The organisation certifies businesses based on whether the majority of their efforts and resources are invested into the social purpose.
The Queensland government and various Victorian government departments are Social Traders members. Victoria developed Australia’s first social procurement policy in 2018.
The NSW government has updated its Procurement Policy Framework, with the policy calling on agencies to “procure from social enterprises to support economic and social change for disadvantaged people”, and specifically lists social enterprises like small businesses, SMEs, Aboriginal-owned businesses or Australian Disability Enterprises.
NSW also recently sponsored the Social Enterprise Council of NSW & ACT.
Social Traders managing director David Brookes welcomed NSW to its community of business and government members.
“Social enterprises are businesses like any other, but they exist to support the most vulnerable in our communities,” he said.
“These enterprises have a particularly unique role to play in the COVID-19 economic recovery by creating jobs for the most vulnerable who have fallen out of the job market. The potential to support disadvantaged people in NSW by allocating some of the NSW government’s procurement spend to social enterprise is enormous.”
Darlinghurst-based social enterprise Beehive Industries has been working with the NSW government for more than 20 years.
It offers work activity, meals and support for seniors, people with disabilities, and those who have faced long-term unemployment, and is mainly funded by its packaging, assembly and mailhouse services.
Beehive Industries CEO Brendan Lonergan noted there are “massive” benefits of businesses and government making simple social procurement decisions.
“The revenue we earn lets us support close to 200 people. We keep people active and engaged in a safe and supportive environment, we feed them and we help people with social isolation and mental health issues,” he said.