Webinar 1 - Program Launch

This is the first webinar in a series supporting the Social Procurement Capability Program. In the first webinar we:

  • provide an overview of the Social Procurement Capability program and the activities and resources that will be available as part of the program.
  • discuss key trends and opportunities in social procurement
  • discuss the challenges social enterprises face in winning contracts and some ways to overcome these.

We are also joined by guest panellists Chris Veraa, from CQ University, and Elise Parups, from the Queensland Social Enterprise Council (QSEC).

Chris is CQ University’s Associate Vice-President for the South East Queensland Region and oversees the operations of the Brisbane Campus. He holds the role of Director, Strategic Engagement at the University.

In 2021, CQ University became the first and only Australian university to be certified as a social enterprise. In the webinar, Chris shares a unique perspective on both working in a social enterprise and buying services from social enterprises.

Elise is the CEO of QSEC, the peak body for social enterprises in Queensland. QSEC support social enterprises in Queensland to develop to create a vibrant, innovative and capable sector.

Elise outlines some of the benefits for social enterprises in joining QSEC and what being in the Queensland social enterprise community can involve.

Key advice

What is social procurement?

“Social procurement is the conscious commitment to generate social value outcomes among local communities and economies and to benefit the environment and disadvantaged groups through the purchase of goods and services by organizations”.

The State of Social Procurement in Australia and New Zealand, Centre for Social Impact Swinburne, June 2021

What is the current state of social procurement in Australia?

  • Australian government and private procurement is valued at about $600 billion a year annually which creates a huge opportunity for SEs.  
  • A 2020 survey of 170 government and private sector organisations that found that 74% were engaging in social procurement are looking for more social value as part of their purchasing decisions.
  • In the report, the top goods and services that were benefiting from social procurement policies were construction, cleaning and facilities management, accommodation, food services, professional services and hygiene recruitment.

What are some key trends and opportunities emerging in Queensland?

  • The 2032 Olympic games: “The games puts a whole new perspective on what the opportunities might be for social procurement. Often when we think about a big game sort of thing or a big event or a big project, it's like if you imagine a big stone and a big pond plopped straight in the middle of it, social enterprises don't usually capture the big piece of the pie because of the size and scale. Some of them do, but usually what we find, it's the ripples around the sides. Something like the Games provides a big landing place of a project. It's up to now the social enterprises to see where are the opportunities rippling out from that big project. Think about the supply chains that are required in order to produce the games, there are things like catering, merchandise, building materials, the towels and the linen, the uniforms, the artwork."
  • Large regional infrastructure projects: “These are rail projects, road projects, building projects, accessible spaces that might come up through council. If you look at the opportunities that are emerging in your regional areas, it may not be that you get the big piece, but you definitely will be able to potentially access all of the different things around the side of that”.
  • Environmental considerations: “From an environmental lens, there is some real opportunities in terms of circular economies measuring carbon offsets and those sorts of things for social enterprises. So if you don't get the big piece of the program, you might be able to offset some of these carbon emissions through the work that you're doing. So consider those sorts of opportunities”.

Elise Parups, CEO Queensland Social Enterprise Council

What membership opportunities are available for Queensland Social Enterprises?

  • Queensland Social Enterprise Council’s (QSEC) plays a key role in the social enterprise ecosystem as a membership based organisation
  • QSEC run a directory service to show where SEs are placed across the state. The directory also helps to connect social enterprises across the ecosystem.  
  • QSEC helps SEs understand their value and how to best sell and represent this.  
  • They offer a range of support services to help SEs grow and flourish both at ‘start up’ stage through to ‘stand up stage’.

What is certification and what are some of the options for Social Enterprises?

  • Most governments or business buyers undertaking social procurement will ask for some demonstration or proof of social purpose or positive social impact from suppliers.
  • And one of the opportunities for social enterprises is to stand out from the crowd by getting certified. It can be a powerful message to say you are a genuine, quality social enterprise, and our way of balancing proper profit and purpose has been certified by an independent third party organization.  
  • The main provider that's recognised by the Queensland Government is Social Traders. They are currently offering free certification.  
  • Other certification options to consider are Supply Nation for Indigenous providers, B Labs B Corp, and the Social Enterprise World Forum verification.  
  • These types of verifications or certifications are not mutually exclusive. You can have more than one. This is not the only way potential buyers assess claims by suppliers about being a social enterprise.

What are some of the benefits of certification?

  • Legitimacy as a social enterprise: “What we've observed in our position as a university is that both internally and externally, it has granted us some legitimacy in this space. So we've now nailed those credentials to the to the wall, so to speak, previously around being a university that's invested in social innovation”.
  • Internal and external signals on how you do business:social traders certification has taken us to another level in terms of just people going, oh, okay, you're actually serious about this. So I think it's a signal externally that we take our role in social enterprise seriously. And then I think it's a signal internally as well to our staff”.

Chris Veraa, CQ University

What do social enterprises need to consider in their marketing?

Be clear about your value proposition and mainstream outcomes along with the secondary positive impact:

“If you can demonstrate that you are offering the same or a better service or product as well as having these really positive ripple effects in the community then I think that that's awesome. So, you know, that might include providing references from satisfied clients who can demonstrate that you can do and offer everything you say you can”.

Chris Veraa, CQ University 

“And we've got some work to do on the social enterprise side to really try and lift our game and to also demonstrate we're so busy in the world of delivering what we're delivering that sometimes we forget to sell our impact as well”. 

Elise Parups, Queensland Social Enterprise Council

What is the Social Procurement Capability Program?

The social procurement capability program is designed to build the social procurement capability of social enterprises in Queensland.  

It will offer a range of practical tools and tips to build procurement knowledge and skills, along with current advice from both buyers and suppliers and experts.

The Program will include:

  • 6 webinars which will look at the different types of procurement and look in detail at where to find these opportunities, what buyers are looking for and what is involved in the procurement process
  • Workshops where we will provide more detail on how to write proposals and how to position your social enterprise for social procurement opportunities. This will be more practical tips tailored to the SEs in the workshops.
  • Tailored coaching for a number of social enterprises that would like additional support on more specific opportunities for procurement.  

There is also a Social Procurement Readiness Tool to help you get a quick understanding of your procurement readiness across four key areas:

  1. Procurement knowledge and experience
  1. Training, memberships and certification
  1. Business capacity and readiness
  1. Marketing

How can I get involved in the Social Procurement Capability Program?

  • Take a look at the Social Procurement Capability Program website  
  • Register for any of the webinars through the registration links on the Program website
  • All of the webinars will be recorded and made available on the Program website  
  • You can express your interest in the readiness tool, workshops and coaching through the website and we will keep you up to date on these opportunities.