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OUR STORY

We’ve done a lot in a short amount of time, and we’re not planning on slowing down any time soon.


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4

Large-scale jobs-focused social enterprises launched

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789

Jobs enabled

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9

of SEs in appropriate property

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4

Jobs hubs created


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2770

The number of delegatest to come together for SEWF22 - the largest social enterprise conversation in the world, hosted by us.

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1

Australia's first SE Payment by Outcomes Pilot

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$51million

Philanthropic funding and investments secured to support job creation projects by White Box and its enterprises (as of Nov 23)

So how did we begin?

The story of White Box Enterprises – like the story of so many social enterprises – spans many years, long before the concept of White Box was scribbled on the back of a beer coaster.

In 2017, Luke Terry was granted a Westpac Social Change Fellowship, a huge part of his personal growth story. On his global tour of social enterprises, common themes kept appearing: enterprises were lacking finance, property, leadership, and wrap-around support. Jobs-focused social enterprises were thinner on the ground simply because the resources weren’t available – it wasn’t an attractive idea for entrepreneurs to take on the challenge.

Co-Founders Luke and Lisa Siganto knew the social enterprise business model held the power to create jobs and engage people in meaningful, long-lasting work. So together, they set out to start White Box Enterprises.


White Box Enterprises is born


We take our name from the Eucalyptus tree and seek to nurture and grow the jobs focused social enterprise sector. To Luke, the tree was a symbol of everything he wanted this new venture to be: a pollinator for the social enterprise sector and a source of support.

The grant capital came from a wonderful chain of events starting with a meeting with the Queensland Mental Health Commissioner, Ivan Frkovic, in which White Box was given seed funding of $200,000, with the amount matched by Minister Fentiman – now the Queensland Attorney General. With $400,000 on their side, the amount was then matched again by the Ian Potter Foundation.

A goal to create 5,000 jobs by 2030 for people who face barriers to work was set and still remains today. 


Then we hit the ground running


A philosophy underpinning White Box Enterprises is to build a social enterprise off an ‘anchor contract’. In 2019 Accor offered White Box the opportunity to clean two hotels, after doing the numbers and seeing it as a viable social enterprise, Hotel Housekeeping was born and 30 people were employed.

At the same time, Jigsaw, a social enterprise revolutionising the way people with disabilities receive job training and employment, was looking to expand its locations out of Sydney. White Box Enterprises found the perfect space for them at Mt Gravatt TAFE (pic above right) together with funding for a manager to support their establishment in Brisbane. Mt Gravatt TAFE also became home to Mantua Design Studios and Hotel Housekeeping creating White Box’s first social enterprise hub.


White Box the intermediary


As White Box set out to build social enterprises from the ground up, the organisation is also committed to building its capacity to find and negotiate property, to raise capital, to undertake business analysis, and to change some of the systems that were preventing social enterprises from scaling.

White Box has developed expertise in all of these areas for the benefits of its own social enterprises and for the benefit of the sector. The social enterprises White Box runs are beacon projects demonstrating the power and diversity of large-scale job-focused social enterprises. Most social enterprises with ambitions to grow need access to the same property, finance and advisory support that White Box's social enterprises receive. White Box provides support to clients in an integrated fashion whereby advisory may identify property and finance needs.

Changing the system

While building the services to support social enterprises to grow is critical, sometimes there are systemic barriers that need to be shifted in order for social enterprise to flourish.

In 2020, White Box Enterprises, six months young, put its hand up to co-host the Social Enterprise World Forum, in Brisbane. Having the multi-million-dollar event in Queensland was seen as critical to realising the impetus building around social enterprise. And with the support of the entire sector, philanthropic, corporate and government partners, the event provided a critical and galvanising focal point for the social enterprise sector in Australia. 

With all of the hard work, good will and support, jobs-focused social enterprises are hard to make work. This is largely because disadvantaged jobseekers have significant support requirements. The holy grail for jobs-focused social enterprises is to be paid for the additional support costs they incur; White Box is partnering with the Department of Social Services to undertake Australia’s first social enterprise Payment by Outcomes (PBO) pilot, which will enable social enterprises to be paid for the job support they provide.


What does the future hold?


White Box is at the beginning of a great adventure.

We are running fast and taking chances that some other organisations might not, but we’re also being supported by philanthropists, government and through sales to build a robust organisation that can deliver on the things we want to achieve. All the work we do from our startups to the PBO trial, wouldn’t be possible without the funding, support and trust of our partners, investors, and social enterprises who are working alongside us. Together, we can achieve so much more.

 


Our Locations

Brisbane (HQ)
1/309 North Quay, Brisbane 4000
Mailing Address:
PO Box 590, Fortitude Valley 4006

Cremorne Jobs Hub
Building 3, 658 Church St,
Richmond, VIC, 3121

Social Enterprise District
– Mt Gravatt

1030 Cavendish Rd,
Mount Gravatt 4122

Careers

White Box is always on the lookout for people that have social enterprise in their blood. We don’t have any positions open at the moment but we are always recruiting. Find out more.


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Acknowledgement of Country

We are proud to work with social enterprises all over Australia. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the land we work and live on, recognising that Sovereignty was never ceded. We pay our respects to the First People of this country, their culture and Elders past, present and emerging.