Social enterprise competition

Are you interested in starting a business that not only makes profit but has a real social impact?

The Big Idea is a social enterprise planning competition, inviting undergraduate students to develop a concept and business plan for a social enterprise or a social business. The competition is for undergraduate students from universities across Australia, so you will have some tough competition. If you are successful at the national finals, your idea could be launched and delivered by The Big Issue on a national scale.

This competition provides a fun way for you to integrate that theory into practice and potentially have a real impact on the lives of those who need a hand up.

Why should you get involved?

You will have the opportunity to:

  • meet some of Australia’s most influential business leaders
  • develop a life changing social initiative
  • potentially win some great prizes
  • add practical business start-up experience to your resume
  • develop networks in Australia’s business and social enterprise space.

Read about last year's Monash finalists' experience!

What is involved?

  • during semester two, The Big Issue will run a series of educational webinars
  • your team will get a Monash academic staff mentor, who specialises in small business start-ups
  • your skills will get a tune-up by attending a business writing workshop and/or a presentation skills workshop
  • your team will submit and present your Big Idea social enterprise to a judging panel here at Monash in mid October
  • if your team is selected to be the best, you'll represent Monash at the national finals held in Melbourne in December to be judged by some of Australia’s most esteemed business leaders at a fully catered awards dinner

What makes an enterprise or business 'social'?

You'll be working towards the Big Issue’s definitions of social enterprise and social business, which we have outlined for your below.

A commercial enterprise directs its resources to create products and services that generate commercial incomes. A social enterprise must:

  • operate as a not-for-profit
  • deliver an activity or function that creates social outcomes
  • be economically sustainable in the marketplace
  • generate direct and meaningful work opportunities (with low to no barrier of entry) for homeless, marginalised or disadvantaged people within the enterprise
  • be scalable – have capacity to grow significantly and provide opportunities to a large number of disadvantaged people, even if it is small in its start-up
  • be financially sustainable – whilst seed (or start-up) funding may be sought initially; ongoing funding or donations should not be relied upon.
  • be legal – be a legally compliant enterprise, including by meeting all relevant legislative requirements, for example, applicable award rates would be paid to all employees.

A social business will fulfil all of the same requirements of a social enterprise, but may not generate direct employment for disadvantaged people.

You'll be able to enter the competition with either a social enterprise or a social business plan. Prior to completing the below application form, you must read the competition's terms and conditions


Applications for the 2016 Big Idea competition have now closed. Watch this space for next year's competition - we expect applications to open again in May 2017.