On July 1 Hope Community Services’ experience in Western Australia was featured as an international best practice in a panel on social enterprise at the World Expo in Milan. The panel discussed the topic of social enterprise in rural areas and exploring diverse themes such as alternative development, social enterprise start up, permaculture, quality assurance and certification of “socially conscious” products.
Monica Luppi, Public Relations and Media manager for Hope Community Services, spoke about the unique challenges and opportunities for social enterprise in Western Australia, specifically using the example of Hope Springs Community Farm in Geraldton as an example. The farm was launched almost a year ago and has been collaborating with local non profits and community members to provide a variety of benefits to the local community, including vocational and life skills training to people in recovery from drug and alcohol issues. Other innovative solutions to complex social issues that were presented included a project that converted illicit crops in northern Thailand into profitable agri-businesses focused on coffee and macadamia and a permaculture farming project in impoverished areas of Brazil.
“It’s a real honor to represent the Midwest on an international level, as a region with a strong sense of community and caring, a forward thinking place with a real knack for innovation”, explained Ms Luppi. “Geraldton is home to a strong network of amazing community organizations, local residents and has such a rich variety in terms of expertise, we are just glad to be able to share what have accomplished and learnt so far”.
The World Expo is held every five years, the 2010 edition held in Shanghai. The Milan edition’s theme, “Feeding the Planet, energy for life” explores themes around agriculture and sustainability, including social, environmental and economic aspects. A total of 144 countries had pavilions at the event, which runs from May through October.