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$1.2 million to help social enterprises grow

Employees of Hotel Housekeeping, a social enterprise that creates sustainable employment for young people facing barriers to work, including refugees and asylum seekers. They are one of four organisations to share in $1.2 million in social enterprise grants. Image courtesy of Hotel Housekeeping.

Westpac Foundation has awarded a total $1.2 million to four social enterprises creating jobs and training opportunities for people overcoming barriers to work.

The Social Enterprise Grants, each valued at $300,000 over three years, will help Green Collect, Worldview Foundation, Hotel Housekeeping and Dismantle (through social enterprise ReNew Property Maintenance) scale their social impact to create an estimated 1,400 new jobs and employment pathways by 2024 for Australians experiencing disadvantage.

“As COVID restrictions ease across the nation, the funding will help these organisations continue to provide jobs for people that can be excluded from the mainstream employment market, helping them access employment opportunities as Australia re-opens,” said Amy Lyden, Acting CEO Westpac Foundation.

The four social enterprises have all been previously funded by Westpac Foundation, and Amy said it’s this long-term approach to funding that enables social enterprise partners to strengthen their business models to scale and create greater impact in the community.

“Our goal is to walk alongside our social enterprise partners as they mature and diversify their funding opportunities,” she said. “Our grants include tailored investment readiness support plans to help our social enterprises access the funds needed to grow and scale.”

Grant recipient Hotel Housekeeping provides housekeeping for hotels and resorts and commercial cleaning services in Queensland and NSW, creating sustainable employment for young people in Australia, including people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds.

Despite the reduction in hotel occupancy during the COVID pandemic, the social enterprise is poised for growth once the industry returns to a more ‘normal’ operating environment.

Shannon Price General Manager of Hotel Housekeeping said as the organisation scales, the grant will provide an opportunity to strengthen their business model and boost their approach to providing wrap-around employee support.

“We have a social support model that enables us to work with our employees, many of whom face barriers to employment, to build their confidence, create tailored development plans and training programs, and help them transition to mainstream careers,” he said.    

Like Hotel Housekeeping, many of the Foundation’s partners have experienced business impacts due to the COVID pandemic.

To support social enterprise partners whose revenues have been significantly impacted due to extraordinary events like the pandemic, the Foundation has also established a Resilience Fund to provide urgent funding.

The Bread & Butter Project, a social enterprise artisan bakery that trains people from refugee backgrounds has received a $100,000 Resilience Grant to help them maintain operations and refugee trainee jobs following a significant decline in their wholesale bakery trade due to Sydney’s extended lockdown.

“The Resilience Fund enables us to support our social enterprise partners through unforeseen circumstances and deploy emergency funding outside our usual grant-making process,” said Amy.

“Our approach has always been about investing for the long-term, and this new fund ensures we can be responsive to our partners’ immediate needs.”

In addition to grant funding, Westpac Foundation’s social enterprise partners receive extensive non-financial support and capacity building.