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 Tenille Gilbert, Co-founder and Managing Director of For Change Co., to share her thoughts.
Q – Tenille, tell us about your organisation.
A – We’re a not-for-profit social enterprise that exists to create pathways out of homelessness for young people. We do that through running our hospitality venues that act as training and employment spaces as well as profit generators for our impact. We strongly believe in employment, community, and confidence as the key pillars of supporting a young person to exit homelessness. Creating those opportunities for young people is what we’re all about.
Q – What drove you to start your organisation? Why social enterprise?
A – Being able to start and guide your own thing is pretty exciting. It means that we’re not going along with the way things have always been done.
The education, employment, and empowerment of our beneficiaries is essential for the whole system. Young people in particular for me: it is about supporting everybody’s right to create their own future, live up to their potential and do what they want to do. I’m very lucky that I didn’t end up in a pathway of homelessness, but it’s only a couple steps away for most people. We don’t have to have young people suffering injustice just because of what they were born into.
It’s also about the community. That choice of where your money goes is another form of empowerment.
And finally it’s the sustainability of it. Entering the market allows us to have a unique selling point and to be directly involved in creating a sustainable future for our own organisation and the impact we can have rather than relying on things that are outside our control.
Q – Do you think consumer interest in social enterprises has grown in recent years? If so, why?
A – Generationally [young people are] really interested in what they can do for each other and what we can do for the community, so there’s a real understanding of that shift in consumerism that has to happen for social and environmental change.
There are also changes on the corporate level in terms of understanding what consumers want and on the government level in terms of social procurement. You have it both ways: people are pushing and big organisations are responding.[Moving forward,] I hope that people really understand the power of social enterprise and the power of every time they shop, thinking about where they’re putting their money because everyone can literally make a contribution.
Q – Do you feel like Victoria is a unique place to run a social enterprise?
A – We have a lot of support for start-ups here and…Melbourne does attract that kind of creative, entrepreneurial spirit as well as people who want to do good. I feel like we’re very lucky to run [our social enterprise] here.
I do question how viable it is to keep starting new ones. We actually need to be working together because not many of us are big enough to fulfil the needs that are out there.
Q – What’s coming up for For Change Co?
A – We’ve got our Middle Park cafe opening soon which will give us an opportunity to get into the south and work with young people in the St Kilda/South Melbourne area and really increase our impact and reach there.
Our other Cafe for Change Bellfield will be opening around June which takes us into another area. We’ll be working very closely with Launch Housing and the new Bellfield social housing project there so that’s really exciting for us.