Australia Awards Social Enterprise for Development Fellowship
The Social Enterprise for Development Fellowship Program, supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Australian Awards Fellowship program was an immersive two week educational fellowship for leading and emerging social entrepreneurs from Vietnam, India and Nepal.
The program aimed to equip participating Fellows with expertise in sustainable business models, scaling social enterprises, and working at the intersection of the private sector and community development. These skills support participants to directly apply their new knowledge to support their enterprises and, in turn, support their work in addressing development challenges - notably homes and shelter; reversing environmental degradation; poverty alleviation (strong focus on women’s empowerment); education access; improved agricultural outcomes; and post-disaster reconstruction.
Building on long-term collaborations, Unbound designed this program to meet the specific needs of the partner organisations; and to strengthen the partnerships and linkages with Australia. The program achieved multiple goals within two broad themes:
Business and skills development
Workshops, site visits, and guest sessions provided Fellows with practical business and management skills including: training on evaluating new businesses and products; scaling enterprises - constructing business models that achieve scale and impact; community engagement and product design; running and leading impactful activities. For example, Fellows built their skills in telling their organisation's engaging story for marketing and partnership building, through a storytelling workshop with Digital Storytellers.
StartSomeGood led a how-to-crowdfund workshop to build knowledge of funding opportunities for achieving scale. This program also shared approaches and mechanisms to support the entrepreneurs build effective teams, and their own leaderships capacity to create and build companies and programs that are viable and impactful, through leadership training by Design for Social Innovation and Leadership (DSIL) Global.
Creation of networks and partnerships
In business and enterprise, having effective collaborations and connections is key. The fellowship focused on building partnerships with Australian universities in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, and DFAT's Asia divisions to open future opportunities for collaboration. The fellows met with innovative Australian organisations working on development of Australian Social Enterprise and innovative solutions to local and global challenges, such as The Foundation for Young Australians, CERES Community Environment Park in Melbourne, and the Canberra Innovation Hub. The Fellowship also created a forum for Fellows to explore international collaboration across the Fellow's countries, and an ecosystem with opportunities for problem solving on each other’s business and community development challenges.
Two public Forums in Melbourne and Sydney provided the opportunity for Fellows to share their knowledge and experience with the Australian public, as well as providing a platform to engage and connect with a range of individuals and organisations from all over Australia.
Fellows were chosen for their innovative use of business approaches to achieve positive social and environmental outcomes, and their work fighting poverty and improving the quality of life for communities in their own countries. Fellows are currently working and managing a range of social enterprises from microfinance in support of women farmers in rural Vietnam, to designing and building earthquake resistant building in Nepal, to solar energy distribution in slums in India.
Some of their incredible organisations are:
Zó project is a social business preserving and developing "Dó paper", the traditional paper of Vietnam. Dó paper uses an ancient paper making technique which appeared in VietNam during the XIII century. Thanks to the unique natural fiber of the Do bark (Rhamnoneuron balansae), Dó paper is renowned for being very very durable, resilient and with a subtly textured surface. Nowadays, in Vietnam, the art of creating this beautiful paper has almost been lost as the demand for such a product has diminished. Zo Project works with rural villages in Vietnam to revive the art, and support sustainable markets methods for the paper. They also work with designers to create beautiful products and a market for Dó paper.
ABARI is a socially and environmentally committed research, design and construction firm that examines, encourages, and celebrates the vernacular architectural tradition of Nepal. Abari builds inspiring spaces using local resources like adobes, bamboos, stones and reed, that are earthquake resistant, healthy, energy efficient and a modern sustainable alternative to conventional building practices. Abari shares methods and materials with Nepali communities through building schools and community spaces, education programs, and engagement in the whole bamboo supply chain.
Pollinate Energy brings life-changing products to the people who need them most in India. They aim to improve the lives of India’s urban poor by giving them access to sustainable products that make their lives better, such as solar lamps. Their model is: