HomeGround Real Estate is proud to be a social enterprise real estate agency. This interview is part of a new series celebrating our fellow social enterprises across Melbourne. Here, we’ve interviewed Nick Pearce, Co-Founder & CEO of Homie to share his thoughts.
Q – Nick, tell us about Homie.
A – Our north star is we support young people affected by homelessness through supporting their readiness for their futures. What we’re finding is we can instil immense confidence within people and help develop skills, but there’s also a key benefit in being able to obtain a Cert III, something tangible.
Our focal point is largely skewed toward young people and there’s an intentionality behind it, with the prevalence of homelessness with young people and the stigmas that exist there. We’re trying to champion that component of the homelessness spectrum to make sure those voices are heard and captured.
Q – What drove you to start your organisation? Why social enterprise?
A – The biggest realisation we had was when young people came in on a VIP day looking for work, many didn’t have referrals or anything on their resume. They were passionate, they just needed that start. That was the penny drop moment: we have a workplace that has capacity to employ, and there’s an underutilised talent pool.
The retail industry itself is the biggest employer of young people, and youth homelessness is so overrepresented with so much stigma, so it made sense to keep down this path.
[Social enterprise] made the most sense in terms of accessibility. It provides a livelihood and a lifestyle, but obviously what you are you doing with the bottom line feels better for people knowing it’s not going to shareholders’ pockets. Having the medium of streetwear clothing was also a really engaging way to connect with young people on top of having a cause.
Q – Do you think consumer interest in social enterprises has grown in recent years? If so, why?
A – Yes, especially in recent years, a lot of people have developed a greater sense of empathy. You certainly found people having conversations about seeking more purpose in their lives, whether personal or consumerism change.
A lot of people who weren’t previously in a compromised situation found themselves there. We know homelessness has gone up exponentially because of the unfortunate reality of family breakdowns, loss of income and work. But to reframe it, it’s a real positive that people are now starting to seek out how to make a difference, whether by supporting different causes or making lifestyle changes that are more purposeful.
Q – What do you think the future has in store for Victorian social enterprises?
A – I definitely think we’ll see more and more sprout up. I really hope and think there will be more cohesion in terms of entities linking up to find those commonalities where they can amplify impact. You’ll find with social enterprises there’s lots of spirit and strength of collaboration so that’s empowering.
Q – What’s coming up for Homie?
A – We’ve had the Hoodies 4 Homelessness campaign recently. It’s been really cool to do our first iteration of that. Advocacy for young people and youth homelessness, and improving understanding in the general community about it, is an exciting piece we’re keen to tackle. Hopefully we can really make some gains in ultimately breaking that cycle. I’m buoyed by our campaign and mentality.
More broadly we’ve got some exciting brand collaborations coming up, so keep an eye out for those.