A community enterprise is a business owned, controlled
and used by the people who live in a particular geographic area. Membership of a
community enterprise is voluntary and open to the general public.
A community enterprise is a sustainable
business that does not rely on
charitable donations or
government grants or subsidies for its continued existence.
Most community enterprises in Australia are incorporated as
co-operatives. There are also a small number
registered as unlisted public
A community enterprise has primarily commercial objectives. Surplus funds may
be distributed to owners of the enterprise and/or for community benefit. Some
community enterprises such as FM radio stations operate as not-for-profit
organisations, where surplus funds are retained in the enterprise.
Community enterprises are usually formed in rural towns to
provide a service
available to the community or to buy out an existing business in order to save
a service that is to be withdrawn from the community.
The first known
community enterprise in Australia began operating in
Queensland in 1859. The community owned retail store was modelled on the
principles established by
Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society
in the United Kingdom
in 1844. The successful establishment of the Rochdale Society marked the
During the 1860's, co-operative stores appeared in isolated industrial and
coal mining communities in the Australian state of New South Wales. As the
population spread inland and
interstate, small rural communities around Australia formed co-operatives to
clothing, household goods and farm supplies. In many towns, local butter factory
co-operatives supplied electricity for the community.
Demographic changes and the growth of supermarket chains have seen many
co-operative stores in rural and regional centres close over the past 30 years.
Others diversified their range of products to include liquor, fuel, insurance
and hardware supplies. The few that have survived have grown as farming
communities focus on supporting local businesses.
Community enterprises have seen a resurgence in
recent years. A growing number of rural towns across Australia are turning to
community enterprises to provide new services such as FM radio stations and
services, or save an existing service that is to be withdrawn from the
such as a petrol station, post office, cinema, hotel or general store.
LINKS TO AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITY ENTERPRISES
The following are links to community enterprises that are registered as
FM Radio Stations
Hotels and Cafés