Enable Social Enterprises Ltd

Enable • Broadmeadows

Meet a social enterprise visionary

Julie McKay founded Enable Social Enterprises to provide disadvantaged jobseekers with on the job experience through supportive work and learning programs. The not-for-profit’s aim is to break unemployment cycles for disadvantaged job seekers.

Julie has more than 30 years management and executive experience in multiple industries, not-for-profit, and government sectors. She’s also spent time at high profile charities Scope and Mission Australia.

“Unemployment in some of Melbourne’s northern suburbs is disproportionately high and reflects the fact that unemployment participation rates are over 50% for people with disability across Australia” she said.

Seeing a gap for a new model of social enterprise focused on delivering a supportive employment experience in real industry settings, Julie got to work creating Enable Social Enterprises in 2013.

“The inspiration to establish Enable came about from a quiet afternoon sitting in my back yard with a glass of wine and the sun shining on my face when I had an “it’s time” moment. I pulled together a business plan, then set my sights on bringing together a group of highly experienced and equally passionate Board of Directors. Things just took off from there.”

Julie analysed which industries would offer the most jobs in the future. Online retailing came up trumps because it offers a range of skills and jobs that have obvious employability potential for people with disability.

In 2014, Enable launched its first venture, In the Click. An ‘eBay store with a difference’, In the Click sells items online and uses profits to tackle social and economic disadvantage in the local community through Enable’s employability programs.

To start, the store mostly sold popular home ware items online, but that was soon to change.

IT recycling for a cause

Three years later, the organisation launched an IT equipment recycling service, Enable IT Recycling, which provides practical and transferable industry workplace skills to its participants while also helping to address the growing e-waste problem in Australia.

As of December 2017, the enterprise prevented 81.6 tonnes of electronic equipment from going into landfill and delivered 6,835 hours of employability skills to 218 participants.

The combination of recycling IT equipment and selling goods online has been a match made in tech heaven! As the two programs grow, the new strategy is to sell Enable’s refurbished IT products through In the Click, bringing the two initiatives closer together and closing the business loop.

In 2018, Enable won the JLT Excellence in Community Service Award, and was finalist in the 2018 Hume Council and Social traders awards.

But while running a not-for-profit social enterprise is rewarding, it can also be challenging.

“There’s a balance between creating a commercially profitable business and achieving our mission. That challenge is constant, particularly as Enable does not receive any government service provider funding.”

Spreading social good

With thoughtful business planning and an expert, supportive board, Enable is going from strength to strength.

Julie says the most important strategic piece is to expand and grow Enable’s Enterprise activity through Social Procurement, delivering robust outcomes for our Customers whilst generating significant social and environmental impact.

The Enable approach of ‘profit for purpose’ has well and truly paid off, for the people the enterprise supports, their customers and community.

“It’s a simple equation. The more commercial work we generate through Enable IT Recycling and In the Click online shop, the more social and environmental impact we can deliver for communities who may (and do) experience significant barriers to employment”.

Enable Social Enterprise is also a platform for social inclusion and cohesive communities, with over 7,000 Volunteer hours contributed to support the Enable mission since December 2017.

“The Enable Board and volunteers are truly the heart and soul of Enable, all of whom share their passion, commitment and expertise for a common good – it’s a true community based organisation.”