Social Traders

I kicked off my second week in Australia with an event at the Melbourne Accelerator Program’s Compass where Mark Daniels from Social Traders spoke about Social Entrepreneurship in Australia. Leading up to my trip downunder I researched the sector online and the best (and only) resources I came across was published my Social Traders (check out their report Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector).

That night, I got a pretty good insight into the developments and state of social entrepreneurship in Australia, and learned more about Social Traders which Mark had co-founded several years earlier. A few days later I met up with Mark Hemetsberger to talk learn more about their programs.

Let’s start with Social Traders’ definition of social enterprise: “Social enterprises

  • Are led by an economic, social, cultural, or environmental mission consistent with a public or community benefit
  • Trade to fulfill their mission
  • Reinvest the majority of their profit/surplus in the fulfillment of their mission.”
The spectrum of social enterprise, copyright: Social Traders

The spectrum of social enterprise, copyright: Social Traders

Mark introduced me to Social Traders as a “full-service organization that offers

  • Enterprise development,
  • A portfolio that invests in social entrepreneurs,
  • New market opportunities (social procurement), and
  • Advocacy and leadership in the social enterprise sector (lobbying and advocating)”

More broadly speaking, their objectives are to

  1. Grow the visibility, voice and value of social enterprise
  2. Build the pipeline of innovative and viable social enterprise
  3. Open new government and corporate markets

Let’s dig a little deeper into what that actually looks like.


Social Traders strive to achieve these objectives through a multitude of services designed to build sustainable social enterprises. They run everything from a half-day workshop on social entrepreneurship to 4-months market validation programs, through the Crunch. Social Traders also is the organizer of Australia’s Social Enterprise Awards, Social Enterprise Masters Conference and  initiated the Good Gift Campaign in 2012 – which has now morphed into a dedicated social enterprise online marketplace called Good Spender – as well as promotes social procurement among Australian consumers, corporations and government.  

Let's talk about social enterprise

Let’s talk about social enterprise


The Crunch is Social Traders’ capacity building programs for social entrepreneurs at different stages of the process. Crunch for early-stage founders is a 4-month long acceleration program delivered through workshops, group sessions, mentoring and online learning. It aims to help startups design, test and pilot potential solutions for social issues while polishing their business skills and providing access to a community of business, investment and social enterprise professionals, and offering the opportunity to pitch their ventures in front of investors at the end of the program. With a similar set-up as the early-stage program (2 days/week, workshops, group sessions, online learning & mentoring), a second Crunch program focuses on the needs of later-stage social entrepreneurs (due diligence, network access). Crunch Market Access is designed to assist social entrepreneurs looking for investment and access to new markets and customers. Learn more about Crunch in this video.

How Crunch works

How Crunch works


Social Traders second area of activity focuses on the provision of appropriate capital. Social Traders’ Social Investment Portfolio provides a source of patient capital and support for social enterprises that would otherwise find it difficult to secure investment from other sources

Social Traders’ Portfolio provides business advice and appropriate capital to high potential, charitable social enterprises.

The support provided includes business coaching, financial monitoring, sales coaching and access to networks, workshops and events. The Portfolio offers capital to selected social enterprises as grant and patient loan hybrids with business support and advice over 5-7 years.  More information on Social Traders’ Portfolio is available here.

Social Traders has very strong views on the type of capital that is available and provided to social enterprises.  A fantastic article written by the Head of Advisory & Investment, Libby Ward-Christie is available here.

Connect: Social Procurement

Social Traders third large area of activity focuses on developing new markets by promoting social procurement with corporates, the government and the Australian consumer (watch Buy Social – It’s a no brainer). Through Social Traders’ Connect, companies and government institutions have access to a network of certified (!) social enterprises throughout Australia. Social Traders assists in social impact evaluation and reporting of procurement contracts, benchmarking and internal communication, thought leadership and networking for social procurers. Check out their case studies on public procurement in Australia as well as their report specific to corporate social procurement. In order to promote social entrepreneurship to Australian consumers, Social Traders partnered up with Australia Post to launch Good Spender – a social enterprise e-commerce platform to buy anything from Mobile Phone Plans that support people with a disability to sustainable apparel and locally produced chocolate, wines, coffee, jams etc.

Good Spender

Good Spender

Like The Difference Incubator, Social Traders charge participants for their programs: AUD $5,000 for the Market Validation and AUD $30,000 for the Market Access program; fully and partially funded spots are available for the latter. Mark Hemetsberger explains: “It is our way of assessing whether or not participants are serious about the program and their ventures, and defines that we are offering something of serious commercial value in the market.”

This was not the last time I would meet this entrepreneurial attitude towards social enterprise support. If you are interested in to learn more about Social Traders, I recommend perusing their website – they have some seriously great resources available!


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