Agility and dynamism the key to successful social enterprises

Friday 8 April 2016

hands holding plants

The research was designed to cover social enterprises at different stages of growth

In summary

  • Agility and dynamism have been identified as the key features of successful WA social enterprises
  • The research was conducted by Dr Chris Mason and Professor Jo Barraket




A new report by Swinburne researchers has identified agility and dynamism as key factors for the financial success of WA’s social enterprises.

In partnership with the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) and the Bankwest Foundation, the report How do Western Australian’s Social Enterprises meet their Financial Challenges?, tracked social enterprises over an 18 month period.

“The research was designed to cover social enterprises at different stages of growth, so we really get to see where they face significant barriers to building their business, and where this impacts their goal in achieving social impact,” Swinburne researchers Dr Chris Mason and Professor Jo Barraket say.

“By monitoring the social enterprises over year and a half, we have been able to capture the diverse experiences that a social enterprise faces from start-up and beyond. 

“We can clearly see the implications for the development of financial products and tools to foster social enterprise growth.”

Successful social enterprises show resourcefulness, creativity, agility and dynamism in the way they run their business as they balance the need to achieve social purpose with commercial focus – a recent study has revealed.

However, in order to support this thriving industry, there is a need to develop more formal, structured financial resources that are designed specifically for social enterprises with the support from government and larger financial institutions.

Director of the CSI at The University of Western Australia, Professor Paul Flatau, says this was an important piece of research because for the first time, we can fully understand the financial and resourcing challenges facing social enterprises.

“We can see that social enterprises adopt both formal and informal strategies and are flexible in the way they access their resources; truly agile organisations on a mission to achieve social impact,” Professor Flatau says.

“We hope this research will help open the door to more appropriate financing and support to ensure our social enterprises thrive.”

The study will now proceed with the second round of data collection and analysis as part of wave two of the research program. Read the entire report