Putting social enterprise on the map in Cairns

White Box, in collaboration with ASA, has officially opened a new office in Cairns today with a clear mission to create more jobs for First Nations people, autistic young adults, refugees and other groups experiencing disadvantage in the region.

White Box, ASA and Feraliser are the first to call the social enterprise jobs hub home, with fast-growing data analytics business, ASA expected to create 20 new jobs for autistic adults in its first year.

ASA is a unique onshore data-oriented professional services provider, founded by White Box, that harnesses the exceptional talents of autistic individuals. Focused on providing high quality data analysis for businesses and governments, the mission-driven organisation has had rapid growth since it was launched in 2020, securing contracts with Ventia, Department of Foreign Affairs and Queensland Department of Resources.

“ASA shows you what is possible when you align business with a clear social purpose,” said Alex McDonald, Chair of ASA and Chief Entrepreneur for White Box Enterprises.

“In 2019 we saw an opportunity. The exceptional talents of neurodiverse young adults weren’t being recognised, and there was no onshore spatial analytics service provider in Australia. It was the perfect alignment for a jobs-focused social enterprise. Three years on, ASA is now opening its third office in Australia and has more than 100 employees.” said Mr McDonald.

ASA has offices in Brisbane, Melbourne and now Cairns. It is one of the fastest growing jobs-focused social enterprises in Australia, employing 110 individuals, 80% of whom are neurodiverse.

With the new Cairns location, ASA estimates it will create an additional 20 roles for neurodiverse young adults within 12 months.

“ASA’s services are in high demand. Our Cairns office will service existing clients, as well as new local businesses, government departments or organisations who are looking for high quality data services with a social mission.” said Alex McDonald.

Pictured above: Harrison, an ASA employee.

The driver behind the Cairns location is White Box Enterprises, ASA’s parent company. The pioneering social enterprise incubator is on a mission to mainstream jobs-focused social enterprise.

“We want to see a jobs-focused social enterprise in every community across Australia.” said White Box CEO and co-founder Luke Terry.

White Box have been active in the region for the past 12 months, working closely with existing First Nations social enterprises, as well as supporting the development a unique social enterprise, Feraliser, led by Kalan Enterprises, an Aboriginal Corporation based in Coen.

“We’re really excited about the work that’s underway in Far North Queensland. There is a real appetite for growth amongst the social enterprise community. We want to do everything we can to see these businesses thrive.”

With the support of the Queensland State Government, White Box recently ran a 12-week ‘Strong and Sustainable’ program with six First Nations social enterprises in Far North Queensland, providing hands-on strategic consulting to improve their businesses, and identify opportunities for growth.

“We continue to work closely with these organisations beyond the program. For one particular enterprise, Strait Experience, we were able to secure a $200,000 low-interest loan from an impact investor, which enables them to scale their business and create more local jobs.” said Mr Terry.

“For others, it’s about creating opportunities to expand their networks and increase their visibility amongst potential funders and philanthropists.” said Mr Terry.

To learn more about the work White Box is doing to mainstream jobs-focused social enterprise, head to our news page.