While the international development and leadership aspects of the title of our Centre here at the University of the Sunshine Coast are generally well-understood, the meaning of ‘the phrase in the middle’ – social entrepreneurship – is less familiar to many. The word entrepreneurship itself tends to confuse the issue. Images of market-driven, profit seeking commercial enterprises in pursuit of private gain and economic growth readily spring to mind. However, the goals and purposes of social entrepreneurship are almost the opposite of these. Here the focus is on the creation of social value for the public good. Social entrepreneurs hold social concerns, often combined with environmental responsibilities, as central to their business strategies, or at least empathic sidelines. Following the principles of a circular economy, which reflect the basic ecological processes of nature, they seek to reuse, recycle, and reduce waste to a minimum and to use some private gain to support a public good.
Richard’s guest in this episode is a wonderful example of one such. Robert Sinnerton works is what he refers to as the ‘business relocations business’, which conventionally often involves the landfill dumping of ‘redundant’ office furniture. Reacting against such waste and recognising that such furniture was still a very valuable resource that could be reused by those in need, he saw the opportunity to provide a public good through donating the furniture to schools and other educational institutions rather than dumping it. This is his inspiring tale as he relates it in conversation with Richard.