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CQU shares in $1m fund to grow Queensland’s social enterprise sector

Published:05 May 2022

Seven smiling people line up at their iActivate graduation

The social entrepreneur graduates of the first iActivate program, in partnership with Smart Precinct NQ and Impact Boom.

CQUniversity will lead a new push to grow business for good across regional Queensland, sharing in $1 million funding from Queensland Government for the emerging social enterprise sector.

CQU’s iActivate program has been awarded $194,200 to work with 48 enterprises in Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Toowoomba and Cairns, to build viable social enterprise business models.

The program combines CQUniversity’s popular iActivate social enterprise online course with face-to-face support from sector experts in CQUs Office of Social Innovation.

CQUniversity is one of eight grant recipients, under the State Government’s $8 million Social Enterprise Jobs Fund.

“Altogether, these Social Enterprise Sector Development Grants commit $990,800 to increase skills development opportunities, leadership and network support to unlock more of the sector’s potential,” Minister for Employment and Small Business Di Farmer said.

CQU Social Innovation Director Ashley Clarke said the 14-month iActivate project will deliver capacity-building workshops, as well as opportunities for new and emerging regional entrepreneurs, across 2022/23.

“iActivate uses proven experience building social enterprise to create clear and actionable steps, activities and processes to get started and to grow a social enterprise or business for good, for the benefit of the whole community,” Ms Clarke said.

“The Social Enterprise Jobs Fund grant highlights the importance of local support for entrepreneurs, and the impact that CQUniversity has already achieved for the social enterprise sector.

“CQUniversity is excited to work with new social entrepreneurs across regional Queensland, and help grow social and sustainable impact for our communities.”

CQUniversity’s iActivate program has already accelerated social enterprise across North Queensland, in partnership with Smart Precinct NQ and Impact Boom.

Led by CQU Social Innovation Program Manager Steve Williams, more than 16 social enterprises have developed and grown with support from the 12-week iActivate course, and applications are now open to participate in the third cohort in 2022.

Participant projects to date have included waste plastic manufacturing, disability support and employment, teen resilience, sexual health and community storytelling initiatives.

CQUniversity has been supporting social enterprise development through iActivate and other social innovation initiatives since launching its Office of Social Innovation in 2014.

This week CQUniversity was named Australia’s first social enterprise university, with certification from social procurement trailblazer Social Traders.

Assistant Minister for Education and Member for Keppel, Brittany Lauga, said entrepreneurs aiming to turn an idea into a successful social enterprise had to overcome some unique challenges on top of the common hurdles of setting up a new business.

“These grants aim to foster the conditions that will see more social enterprises launched in Queensland and start to grow, and it’s fantastic to have the successful organisations sharing their sector knowledge and expertise thanks to these grants,” Ms Lauga said.

Social enterprises are businesses led by a social purpose and geared towards a social good. They operate to deliver benefits for the community while supporting themselves commercially, creating jobs and providing needed goods and services in the process.

Queensland Social Enterprise Council CEO Elise Parups said the programs made available to social enterprises through the grants would provide a critical uplift for the emerging sector.

The new iActivate program is open to social entrepreneurs across Wide Bay - Burnett (August - October 2022), Cairns (August - November 2022), the Darling Downs (January - April 2023) and Rockhampton (February - May 2023), register your interest here.