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Ingenuity in adverse and challenging times is essential for all businesses and like most for-profit businesses, for-purpose organisations have had to pivot.

It is not only about staying afloat during this crisis, but also to continue to support vulnerable and marginalised individuals and communities who are at risk of being disproportionately affected by this current crisis.

Most hospitality or retail driven social enterprises have had reduced capacity to operate due to social distancing restrictions, critically affecting revenue as income generation is curtailed or compromised.

We are not in familiar territory. New ways of thinking and doing things – innovation – is the only course to retain service delivery to our most vulnerable communities.

Many of our social entrepreneurs have stepped up to this challenge and are championing new ways of working and finding new communities to connect with: The Man Cave, Free to Feed and Moving Feast are some great examples.

The Man Cave

The Man Cave facilitates healthy masculinity for boys and young men through delivery of school education programs, which has now been affected by social distancing.  The Board and the team have rallied together to evolve their business model and adapt their strategy to continue delivering on their mission. Unable to deliver face to face programs in the school environment, the Man Cave have turned to using digital and online tools to continue their programs for boys, parents and teachers across their networks to best support them as meaningfully as possible.

Free to feed

Social enterprises with business models that are designed around food initiatives such as catering, cafes or cooking workshops, have had to reinvent themselves quickly, so they can continue to provide employment opportunities. Based in Melbourne, Free to Feed is an enterprise that uses food as a way to connect people and cultures together by supporting asylum seekers and new migrants with meaningful employment. As catering events and workshops have been cancelled, they have opened their kitchens and now offer nutritious pick-up and home-delivered meals aptly named BRAVE Meals.

Moving feast

Conceived by STREAT Founder Bec Scott, Moving Feast is a collaborative response bringing together Victoria’s food social enterprises not only to create food security, but also to ensure that the organisations that employ some of Victoria’s most vulnerable people are able to continue to operate throughout the pandemic. Bec has mapped an end-to-end food system and currently has six food social enterprises involved to deliver over 40,000 meals per week. One hundred other organisations have been invited to participate and they will be needed: it is conservatively estimated that more than 10 per cent of the Victorian population will be in need of emergency food relief in response to this crisis, translating to over 250,000 meals a week. This model could very well be a game changer for the enterprises involved and for the whole sector.

Should these ‘pivots’ in business model prove effective, the opportunity for greater service provision, integration and connectedness across our communities will be constrained only by our collective creativity.