Five social entrepreneurs win EY’s Australian impact awards

04 January 2024 2 min. read
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Addressing issues such as waste and disadvantage, five of Australia’s innovative social entrepreneurs have been recognised with Social Impact awards from professional services firm Ernst & Young.

As part of its annual Entrepreneur of the Year program, professional services firm Ernst & Young has announced the 2024 Australian regional winners and national finalists of its social impact award, which recognises “incredible individuals helping the less fortunate and changing the fabric of society”.

Last year’s impact award went to Eloise Hall, co-founder and managing director of TABOO, which works to eliminate period poverty in Australia and around the world.

Five social entrepreneurs win EY’s Australian impact awards

Sticking with the biological angle, this year’s Southern region winner is Who Gives A Crap chief exec Simon Griffiths, who co-founded the dunny paper delivery enterprise in 2012 via a crowd-funding campaign to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world, with 50 percent of profits – or more than $12 million – donated to date. Meanwhile, its 100 percent recycled, plastic-free products have saved over a million trees from the chop.

This year’s Central region winner was Stephanie Malan, CEO and co-founder of The Village Co., an Adelaide-based not-for-profit established in 2018 to support new mothers by providing practical, basic items such as nappies, blankets, wipes, and sanitary pads. The enterprise, which last year helped nearly 1,000 women, was born out of Malan’s experience as a midwife attending to mothers suffering from hardship due to domestic abuse, homelessness, and poverty.

“Love is the next disruptor in business,” says Northern region awardee Yas Grigaliunas, who established sustainability initiative Circonomy in Brisbane in 2017 after organising the ‘World’s Biggest Garage Sale’ charity event. The enterprise works with retailers such as Officeworks to revive and resell items otherwise headed for landfill (with approximately 4.3 million kilos worth diverted to date), as well as providing advisory services on sustainable operations.

Shaun Christie-David, the CEO of ‘Plate It Forward’ who cheekily notes he missed out on an EY cadetship two decades ago, is this year’s Eastern region winner, backing up an Australian Human Rights award received in 2021 after conceiving of the charitable hospitality venture. Now with six restaurants and a catering business, Plate it Forward provides food relief together with training and employment opportunities for marginalised communities.

Lastly, Renzo Petersen of Natraplas has been recognised in the Western region for his work to reduce plastic waste. Established in 2019, Natraplas provides customers – predominantly those in the mining industry – with fully compostable products such as water bottles and bin liners made from reusable biopolymer and sustainable plant materials, which can then be turned into liquid compost and green energy through a specially-designed waste processing unit.