Australian Volunteers International

July 31, 2019

Building capacity with social enterprise

As you know, through successive international volunteering for development programs, AVI has a proud history of building the skills and capacity of for-purpose micro and small businesses.

Last week I had the privilege of presenting at the International Development Forum in Jakarta on our Sustainable Tourism Hub (JoZaSo) in Myanmar as a way of enabling new micro and small businesses to start, as well as impact investing and social enterprise to the 2,000+ delegates.

What impressed me the most was the vibrancy and scale of for-purpose small enterprises and impact investment facilitators represented at the conference and the considerable passion and skill of their social entrepreneur founders.

I met Megawati who runs Threadapeutic which makes products from used textiles, coffee bags and advertising banners, employing Indonesians with disabilities; David from Ecoware, which makes sustainable food packaging (using product like seaweed) as an alternative to plastic; and Amri from Envertias which uses smart phone technology to improve supply chains for farmers.

The Australian Consul General in Makassar, Richard Mathews, remined me of the country’s long history of entrepreneurialism and trading when he showed me an Aboriginal totem from the Northern Territory featuring boats arriving from Indonesia to fish for sea cucumber. In return for the licence to fish, the Indonesians traded products with Indigenous people around Darwin.

It is exciting that technology now enables these small for-purpose businesses to promote and trade internationally. AVI’s new website (due October) will support this movement with links to websites of for-purpose businesses we have supported, enabling all Australians to engage with and buy from them.