The Big Issue Acknowledges Young Social Entrepeneurs In Fourth Annual Big Idea Competition

27 November 2015 The Big Idea

The Big Issue Acknowledges Young Social Entrepeneurs In Fourth Annual Big Idea Competition

Initiatives including a hostel that provides emergency accommodation and a mental health awareness program for youth in regional areas are among seven finalists of The Big Idea, a national university competition co-ordinated by Australia’s longest standing social enterprise, The Big Issue.

The competition aims to find new social enterprise business ideas that could deliver benefits to society in a similar way to existing social enterprises such as The Big Issue magazine.


Since 1996, more than ten million copies of The Big Issue magazine have been sold, generating more than $20 million in income for homeless and disadvantaged sellers.
The Big Idea, which was launched in 2012, gives students an opportunity to learn about social enterprise in Australia.

More than 80 student teams from 10 universities competed in 2015, developing a business plan for a new social enterprise or social business. 

The Big Issue’s National Manager Sally Hines said students learned practical skills from experienced social enterprise practitioners along the way.


“A key component of the competition is providing students with access to The Big Issue’s Senior Management Team to discuss and share their experiences of working in a social enterprise providing work opportunities for homeless Australians.”


Five undergraduate and two postgraduate finalists have been selected to present their plans to a high-profile panel of judges including Telstra CEO Andy Penn, Australia Post CFO Janelle Hopkins and Cheryl Kernot, Director, Social Business, Centre for Social Impact.


Judging will be held in Melbourne on Monday, 30 November, with the winners announced at an award ceremony supported by PwC Australia.


For media accreditation to attend the awards ceremony, please contact Simone Flanagan.


Undergraduate finalists:

Socius (University of Melbourne)
Socius provides a leasing service for inner-city residents to access recycled household products and appliances, reducing consumption and providing a low cost alternative to buying appliances.  The enterprise provides employment opportunities for refugees through its delivery service.

The Vibe Collective (La Trobe University)
The Vibe Collective is an event management social enterprise building emotional resilience in young, regional Australians. By staging workshops and cultural events, the Collective aims to offer professional skills development opportunities, employment pathways and social connections for youth experiencing disadvantage.

Journey (University of Sydney)
Journey is a crowdfunding platform that provides financial assistance to people experiencing homelessness, empowering them to achieve goals set with social work professionals.  Individuals seeking support share their journeys and goals on a public profile, enabling the public to provide targeted funding through donations.

The Urban Refuge (RMIT)
This social business is a hostel with a social conscience, pairing a traveller’s hostel with an emergency housing shelter. A stay at the traveller’s hostel funds accommodation for someone facing vulnerable housing conditions.

Horti (Monash University)
Horti employs people who have been homeless or disadvantaged to assist prefabricating and selling vegetable-patch kits and other garden products.

Post Graduate Finalists:

The Garden of Earthly Delights (CQ University)
This social enterprise uses a number of revenue streams and initiatives to run a community garden providing flexible training, education and employment for people facing disadvantage or experiencing homelessness. 

SE Business Services (Deakin University)
This social enterprise is a marketing and administration service, providing basic services such as flyer delivery for small businesses. The enterprise provides employment and soft skills training for people who face disadvantage or long-term unemployment.

Vendor profile