Kylie Hansen & Pat Ryan On The Unique Social Enterprise Landscape of Western Australia — Impact Boom | Social Impact Blog & Podcast | Global Changemaker Community | Social Innovation, Enterprise, Design

It sounds like it’s growing quickly over there, and I’m sure bringing WASEC together will help bring that united front and ideally help influence policy and create a strong environment for the business for good movement to grow.

So, impact investment, you’ve spoken a little bit about it today Kylie, but do you see any opportunities over there in WA for better support for impact-led businesses?

Absolutely. I think in supporting the development of social enterprise and impact-led businesses, impact investment has to play a critical role within that.

We like to think of impact investment in terms of sharing power, right? The traditional financial relationship that we ordinarily have are really, the people with the money hold the power, right?

We like to think around impact investment being more collaborative, more sharing of that power rather than it being held by people that have the money. So I think a couple of key initiatives in terms of impact investment, have the opportunity to play a really important role in WA.

One is looking at the concept of blended finance and lay out some of that more patient capital alongside some of the maybe traditional impact investment or traditional finance mechanisms.

I think particularly for start-up impact-led businesses and social enterprises, that’s really important. Increasingly with the COVID environment and looking to recovery, social procurement is something that is a great opportunity, even though that’s not technically impact investment. It’s one of those tools in their toolbox that can really support the development of social enterprise and impact led business.

Great points. I think both of you obviously have a pretty good feel for this social enterprise movement within Australia. So Pat, did you want to add where you may see any sort of strong opportunities to build on the current momentum of these different state-based networks and momentum that we’re seeing in Australia right now?

That’s a good question. I hope that WA can catch up very rapidly to what’s already been happening in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland for a decade now, but I’m not sure.

I think that WA’s a unique state in some ways, and that there is an opportunity for us to build something as a network, and as individual enterprises build something that’s fit for purpose for why our state operates.

In particular, in the really remote regional areas, I’m excited about supporting growth and development in social enterprise in regional Western Australia. Look, I’m not sure. I think the thing that I’m focused on right now is building and catching up to the state of affairs that’s in Victoria and New South Wales.

But then beyond that, I think in a couple of years we can start thinking about what’s unique about Western Australia that we can harness and cultivate to get the best outcome for the state.

Kylie, you might want to add to that, but I was thinking as well, there’s no doubt [that there are] a whole heap of really inspiring projects and initiatives that you’ve both come across. So Kylie, did you want to take a lead on that?

We’re [currently] talking to I mentioned before one of WA’s older social enterprises with Pat and Dismantle. There’s also a wonderful employment based social enterprise here in WA called Loop, which actually creates different kinds of consumable skincare, [as well as] hygiene products and supports organisations with up-cycling of their uniforms and their work clothing into brand new items that they then use for their workers or put on sale. Loop is trying to engage with people with disabilities and others experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage from the employment perspective and create a centre of excellence to increase the manufacturing capacity of the state again. I think we have seen with COVID this is quite a significant challenge for Australia. I think in terms of making a quick link back to opportunities in the recovery of COVID, we work sometimes with a series of social enterprises run by the Yiriman Women.

Yiriman Women have a bunch of small social enterprise focused on country healing, on bush harvest, on art and as part of a broader inter-generational cultural program across four different language groups up in the Kimberley.

I think if we think about recovery from COVID, it has to be place-based and it has to be led by people with the great connection to the communities that they have.

I think Yiriman are a really great example of that.

Great, there’s some beautiful examples there.

To finish off then, it would be to hear what books or resources you would you recommend to the people listening in?

Pat and I had a conversation about this. We don’t have time to read sorry! I joke, I’m in the middle of two books. So it’s taking me an extraordinary long time to get through them. But I think Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe and White Fragility are really important books. Particularly for this time that we find ourselves in, to make sure that social enterprises feel on this sharing power as is impact investment.

I think there’s some of the most fundamental concepts around sharing power and our own approaches and challenging our own reflections and attitudes and beliefs. I think that’s one of the most fundamental things that we can do.

We also at Impact Seed really enjoy the Team Human podcast.

Nice one. What about yourself Pat?

The one that came to mind actually after I saw Kylie’s suggestions is a book called Wyndham Yella Fella by Reginald Birch. It was written a couple of decades ago and it’s just the lived experience of a Stolen Generation Aboriginal man growing up on traditional owned land in the East Kimberly, and Reginald Birch is an absolute poet. [He’s also] a man that I met when I was in Wyndham, and is living on a quarter acre block cause he says he can get more rights as an Aboriginal person on his quarter acre block that he’s bought, than he could as a traditional owner of land. The other book that I was going to suggest was Living With ADHD. The reason I’ve brought that up is I’ve got some tendencies of sporadic kind of thinking, and reading something like that just really gave me a lot more comfort about harnessing talents based on personality rather than trying to fight against your weaknesses. For people that are doing social enterprise, just focusing on strengths and utilising strengths and having a diverse personality spreading organisation is just a really great thing. Reading a book like that, just solidified that for me. My podcasts are really generic, but I just love hearing individual stories of how they grew an idea into an enterprise. So the podcast, How I Built This is very entertaining every time.

Kylie and Pat, it has been an absolute pleasure to talk to you both today. We’ll certainly look forward to following both of your journeys and the sector’s journey over in Western Australia.