Social Enterprise Inspiration Week 1 – Susan Black

The “Big Friday of Social Entrepreneurship” was hosted by the Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) this February and I was invited to participate as a GLP ambassador at the event. Throughout the day, five inspirational speakers who all work in or around Australia’s social enterprise industry ran the audience through their projects and insights. Over the coming weeks I will be recounting what I learnt from these speakers in short, digestible posts.

I recently attended the “Big Friday of Social Entrepreneurship”, an on-campus event hosted by the Macquarie Graduate School of Management. The key themes of the day were ‘Social entrepreneurship, ‘How to be a social entrepreneur’, and ‘What motivates a social entrepreneur?’.  A social enterprise or entrepreneur uses business methods and tools to create positive social impact. For example, Simon Griffiths, a well-known social entrepreneur, sells toilet paper then donates the proceeds of the sales to fund sanitation projects in Africa. (Simon spoke at a GLP On-Campus Seminar in 2013).

Susan Black was the first speaker of the day, putting into context social enterprise in Australia and highlighting the trends and challenges in social entrepreneurship today. She currently works as the director of projects for Social Ventures Australia (SVA) but has been working in the field of social entrepreneurship for 10 years. SVA invest in organisations and businesses which have a strong social impact and help disadvantaged Australians such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the disabled, the homeless and victims of domestic violence, to name a few. Some of the projects that SVA support are: the Australian Indigenous mentoring Experience (AIME), Goodstart, STREAT and The Song Room. According to Susan, there has never been a better time to start a social enterprise in Australia. This sector has experienced major growth over the last 5-10 years and there are a substantial amount of grants and capital funding available from philanthropic individuals, organisations, businesses, councils, governments and other businesses.

Picture of Susan Black as found on the Social Ventures Australia website

A picture of Susan Black as found on the Social Ventures Australia website

All successful social enterprises are made up of three elements: capital funds, experienced talent, and strong evidence that the business has a positive social impact. Susan also stresses that the business or profit part of any enterprise needs to be successful in order to create social change. Remember it like this: social businesses or enterprises are like a duck on the water – business on top and a social mission going on underneath. As part of their work SVA mentors fledgling and established social enterprises, ensuring that the product or service that they provide is both reasonable and profitable. SVA also run business panels where people who have an idea for a social enterprise can “pitch” their idea. Essentially, it’s a nicer version of “Dragons Den”.  Enterprises are assessed for their potential in terms of profit, short and long-term social impact, and the resources the individual has available to ensure a successful enterprise.

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Towards the end of the presentation we were split into discussion groups to talk about three successful social enterprises: Múooz; BARK (Brothers Acts of Random Kindness); and SEED (Sandgate Enterprise for Economic Development). My discussion group focused on BARK, a great business run by Gavin Kumsing, an Indigenous man from Townsville. Gavin used to work as a gaoler and was distressed at the number of Indigenous men in prison, their inability to find stable employment after being released, and their rate of recidivism (re-offending). In response to this he started BARK, which gives Indigenous former convicts employment in property maintenance and parks. Notably, they work with Origin and the Townsville Council has funded and supported them from their establishment. As a result of BARK the rate of recidivism is much lower. BARK serves as a prime example of a successful social enterprise and how one grassroots organisation or “big idea” can impact upon a much larger social issue. I’m feeling inspired already and can’t wait to tell you about some more great stories of social entrepreneurship.

Not sure who the author is? Georgina is the GLPs Torres Strait Islander cadet and the keeper of the GLP Blog. To find out more about Georgina and the blog read her introductory post here

GLP students who attended the ‘Big Friday of Social Entrepreneurship’ were able to claim 10 experiential credit points under code GL X28 – Attending a 1 day On or Off Campus Conference.

Youth Development Forum 2014

“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.”
Diogenes Laertius

A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in the Youth Development Forum (YDF) both as a student of Macquarie and as a staff member of the Global Leadership Program in my role as the GLPs Indigenous cadet. The aim of YDF is to encourage aspiring leaders from East Timor (formerly, Timor Leste) and Macquarie University’s Global Leadership Program to develop their skills in community development and advocacy as well as their knowledge of human rights.

The 2014 Youth Development Forum started off with a bang at the Opening Ceremony held lakeside on the grass at Macquarie. There was a ‘Welcome to Country’ and smoking ceremony performed by Chris Tobin, a Dharug elder, followed by a engaging music and dance performance by “Descendance”, a well-known Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance troupe. Next, all participants, both from Timor-Leste and Australia gave, and received in return, cultural offerings representative of our respective countries. The evening was capped off with a delicious dinner and lively conversations between all those invited. This opening event set the stage for the next few days’ themes of cross-cultural understanding and sharing of each other’s personal experiences.

Chris Tobin, a Dharug elder performs a smoking ceremony

Chris Tobin, a Dharug elder performs a smoking ceremony

Some of the East Timorese delegates trying Tim Tams

Some of the East Timorese delegates trying Tim Tams

'Descendance' perform

‘Descendance’ perform

The first official day of the 2014 Youth Development Forum centred around the human rights challenges faced by Australia and Timor Leste as well as the legal framework (i.e. the United Nations, as well as various declarations, treaties, conventions, etc.) through which these challenges can be addressed. There is some comfort in the fact that there is a foundation on which human rights issues can be remedied or advocated for. However, it is important to note that declarations and treaties must be both ratified and entered into domestic law in order for them to have any real standing. Without getting into overly-technical jargon, international laws which are not entered into the domestic laws of a country are considered ‘soft law’ because they are not legally binding. The term ‘hard law’ denotes laws which are legally binding and to become this it is imperative that international laws are ratified into domestic law.Also on the agenda today were the presentations of GLP students as well as the Timorese participants. All participants were asked to present an in-depth overview of a particular human rights issue in their respective countries. Presentation topics included Indigenous rights (in Australia), education, women’s rights, environmental issues and the treatment of children. Everyone put a lot of effort into their presentation, and I for one was shocked at the problems that Timor-Leste faces, especially in regards to education and women’s rights. The realisation dawned on me that despite Timor Leste being so close to Australia but is worlds apart in terms of our most fundamental rights. We in Australia definitely have it better than many, which is not to say that our society is without serious and important problems, especially with regards to Indigenous rights. All in all Tuesday was a thought provoking and sobering day.

Meaningful discussions abounded during the forum

Meaningful discussions abounded during the forum

Everyone shared their experiences

Everyone shared their experiences

Communicating between cultures

Communicating between cultures

We also heard from three remarkable ladies who talked us through their individual social change projects. Kylie Marks, Amy Rogers and Suzie Nguyen all started a project/s with the aim of making a positive social impact on a particular human rights issue (more information on these projects at bottom of article).These presentations were a standout for me personally because they allowed me to see how someone could identify a problem, realise they’re passionate about changing it, and develop something practical to change the situation for the better.

Presentation time

Presentation time

Our presenting skills were given a real workout

Our presenting skills were given a real workout

Explaining our campaign to end child abuse

Explaining our campaign to end child abuse

All too soon came the last day of the Forum, Thursday. The only downside of Thursday was it being the last day and reluctantly said goodbye to our newfound Timorese friends. The day started off with learning about current projects happening in Timor-Leste. We learned of an organisation called “PRADET” (which stands for ‘Psychosocial Recovery and Development in East Timor’), that offers counselling and support to victims of domestic violence, children who have been abused and those who have mental health issues. We also learned of the work that Rotary are doing in Timor to improve conditions for Timorese youth. Their focus is on inspiring and developing community leaders in Timor Leste and they run annual events to support this objective including the ‘Rotary Youth Leadership Awards’.

Following on, the group focussed on ways of actioning what we’d learned throughout the week and how we could all help each other in our individual projects and campaigns. The last “official” part of the YDF was writing in our reflection journals what we’d learned throughout our time together and completing an evaluation of the Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) who facilitated our activities and speakers. After this the event was capped off with singing and dancing led by the Timorese group who gave everyone in attendance, including GLP students, staff members, and the DTP gifts such as hand-made jewellery and scarves. This cemented the friendships that we’d all formed throughout our time together and ensured that we would never forget our Timorese brothers and sisters. Although, I know that I don’t need a beautiful scarf to forget these incredibly inspiring people.

I’d like to give everyone who attended the 2014 Youth Development Forum a huge thank you. Thank you to the GLP, the DTP, to my fellow Macquarie students, to my new Timorese friends, and to all the presenters. I will never forget my time in the forum.

Amy Rogers has been working in Mongolia for the past few months to combat domestic violence against women. Her campaign focussed on raising awareness of what is often an unspeakable, taboo, subject with a broader aim to have the ‘Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women’ entered appropriately into domestic Mongolian Law. For a great article on her campaign click here.Kylie Marks started ‘The Shared Initiative’ which aims to encourage and develop empathy and connectedness between people from all cultures. For more information see their website: http://thesharedinitiative.org/

Suzie Nguyen started the ‘Two Chairs’ organisation. Through this organisation, she encourages more open discussions about race and racism as well as people sharing their stories of racism. She then uses these stories to create beautiful and thought-provoking works of art. For more information on Suzie’s website see the Two Chairs Blog or follow ‘Two Chairs’ on Facebook.

Taking up the Challenge – Teaching

By Jennifer Tridgell

Jenny Tridgell is a current GLP student studying for a Bachelor of Arts with Bachelor of Laws. Over the last few weeks she has been documenting her experience on PACE International’s ‘Peru’s Challenge’project. For Jenny’s previous posts see her articles here

 

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week, Macquarie students teach English, Art and Sport at Quilla Huata. The school is divided into two classes, with a Kindergarten/Grade One and Two and an upper primary composite. Since our program is during the summer holidays, we are running a summer school program for around 40 children from Quilla Huata. Currently, there are around 80 children enrolled at the school. The hope is that with the completion of the next classroom by our Macquarie group, another 40 children will be able to attend and receive an education.

Teaching an English class for Kindergarten

Teaching in the classroom made for a steep learning curve, particularly for those of us who do not come from a teaching background. After slightly disorganised lessons in the first week, we embraced the feedback of the teachers and did a lot more preparation. People stayed up late on week-nights to cut up paper body-parts, make labels for the storeroom and organise lesson materials. Each Sunday night, we had a class planning session to organise the teacher roster and lesson plans. English and Art classes had a theme for each week, with animals for Week Two and colours for Week Three. For art in the kindergarten class, the children loved painting butterflies, making paper-plate frogs and beading bracelets. Even days later, girls and boys ran up to me to show me their bracelets.

Simone taking the Quilla Huata children through sport exercises

Simone taking the Quilla Huata children through sport exercises

 

These last few weeks have been about gaining new skills, like learning how to control young children despite a language barrier. The key to this is: body language, hand movements and researching key terms in Spanish the night before. Flexibility has also been important. For example, on one day Laurence and Liz had just hopped in the car to leave for Quilla Huata when they were told that they were teaching high school students at Pumamarca that day. Also, whenever someone has been sick, one of us has had to jump in to fill the space on the health and hygiene, fruit preparation or teaching teams.

Loving life at Sacred Valley in Pisac

Loving life at Sacred Valley in Pisac

Peru´s Challenge is about helping the local communities during the week and exploring the beautiful Andean terrain on the weekends. We visited Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu on consecutive weekends and loved every minute. For most, Machu Picchu was one for the bucket list and a highlight of the trip. It was a perfect moment when the fog lifted and we could see the perfectly-aligned walls and thatched rooves of Machu Picchu with a baby llama wandering its grassy terraces.

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Not a picture was ruined at Machu Picchu

 

As Jenny has mentioned, participating in this PACE project has given Jenny invaluable life skills in planning and organisation as well as the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and make a positive difference to a community. If you’d like to have your own experience with PACE there are projects in countries such as India, or Cambodia as well as local opportunities to get involved. Check out their website here.

 

 

Exploring culture and spirit in Seoul, Korea

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In January 2014, I attended the Winter Beyond Border’s Program (WBBP) at Sookmyung Women’s University, and had the best 3 weeks in Seoul, South Korea. This was my first trip to Korea, my first birthday overseas, my first time in snow and my first encounter with Korean language and culture. I went there without knowing anyone, and left the program having made the best of friends.

The WBBP offered a very intensive cultural immersion curriculum. Every day for 3 weeks, I did 3 hours of Korean language learning from 9am-12pm and 3 hours of Taekwondo from 1pm-4pm, alongside other exchange students from China, Japan, Australia, America, Canada and Germany. On top of that, the WBBP organised a plethora of cultural immersion programs that we undertook outside of university classes, such as learning K-Pop dancing, watching nanta performance, visiting the National Folk Museum of Korea, visiting Namsangol Hanok Village, making Korean food and attending Korean History and Spirit lectures. In hindsight now, it’s amazing how much I have done in the past 3 weeks!! From mastering the Korean alphabet, ingraining Taekwondo kicks into muscle memory and working through my Korean adventure bucket list, I was on a race against time to enculturation. The WBBP felt like a holistic program of mental and physical stimulation, coupled with therapeutic activities for the mind, heart and spirit. Most of us thought that 3 weeks in South Korea was too short a time, but I think the beauty of it was that it pushed us to live in the moment, and to invest ourselves in every opportunity and in the people around us. At the end of it all, I took home an unparalleled experience in Seoul, cemented in my heart for as long as I will remember.

One fateful day, I was half way through Taekwondo class when it began to pour heavily with snow outside. Watching the snow form a layer of icing on campus felt surreal. Class ended with a snowball fight with the Taekwondo Master! Truly one of my most memorable moments in South Korea!!

The day my winter-wonder tales of childhood came to life!!

The day my winter-wonder tales of childhood came to life!!

One of the best things about the WBBP was that it worked hand in hand with Sookmyung Women’s University’s excellent Buddy program. Every exchange student was paired with a Korean student of Sookmyung university, whom we called ‘buddy’. These buddies are the most spirited, enthusiastic and spontaneous group of university students, and had such unparalleled generosity. They played host to my three week stay in Seoul and became my tour guides, fashion consultants, street navigators and, ultimately, my best friends. We shopped till we dropped, clubbed till the wee hours in the morning, visited historical sites, savoured the best of Korean alcohol, and rampaged the streets of Korea for traditional Korean cuisines.

Soonjin and I in the streets of 명동(Myeongdong) where we had seafood soup (해물탕(Haemultang)) and LIVE small octopus (산낙지(Sannakji))!! The small octopus was served squirming in front of us. The trick to eating these live octopuses is to chew vigorously to prevent it from sucking on you!

Soonjin and I in the streets of 명동(Myeongdong) where we had seafood soup (해물탕(Haemultang)) and LIVE small octopus (산낙지(Sannakji))!! The small octopus was served squirming in front of us. The trick to eating these live octopuses is to chew vigorously to prevent it from sucking on you!

I have to say that the WBBP has given me the opportunity to truly immerse myself in the Korean culture for an authentic Korean experience that has challenged my preconceived notions about Korea. I enjoyed the excitement of K-pop, shopping, spicy Korean food and its exuberant night life, but what has truly attracted me to Seoul is its people, and its national psyche that screams passion, kindness, industry, tradition, spirit, generosity, graciousness and history. It has been a rigorous three weeks, and I’ve gotten only a glimpse into the heart of Seoul. Amidst the balance of yin and yang, the strong spirits of my Korean buddies, and the enthusiasm of my exchange friends, I am imbued with optimism for more travel and culture in Korea and throughout Asia. Having already made a special connection with South Korea, I want to come back soon to continue from where I left off.

In January 2014, I lived, laughed and loved amongst the WBBP exchange friends and buddies. The Winter Beyond Border’s Program seems like a dream now and I have but to look at my pictures to hear our laughter and the clinking of our soju glasses once more.

Alina Leong is an international student in  Macquarie University who hails from  Malaysia, Selangor. She is studying a  Bachelor of Arts and Education (Primary)  majoring in English with a specialisation in ESL.

Alina Leong is an international student in
Macquarie University who hails from
Malaysia, Selangor. She is studying a
Bachelor of Arts and Education (Primary)
majoring in English with a specialisation in ESL.