Since the dot.com boom of the 1990s, start-ups have experienced a wave of success. What’s most exciting is the renewed interest in social start-ups and their potential in promoting various forms of collaborative consumption, community building and economic enterprise. These start-ups focus on sustainable projects that immediately change the lives of participants, and all for the better.
While social start-ups might not come with the billion dollar price tag of their counterparts, they are by no means less impressive. At the back of the Bower, a social hub in Redfern, is one of Sydney’s best kept start-up secrets – Curb Collective (CC). It’s an initiative of TAFE NSW, Partners in Learning and Community Enterprise and the Bower Reuse & Repair Centre and was established just 12 months ago. As I walk through the workshop it’s definitely no amateur community group but a serious and well oiled business.
Over the past year, CC has already saved hundreds of furniture pieces from landfill and restored them back to life. The start-up has also developed a strong community, upskilling volunteers and reintroducing upholstery skills back to the inner city, “we can’t find any upholstery tools here in Sydney so we need to source them from Melbourne, but that’s ok I guess” says Jeanette, one of the CC here at the Bower. Fiona joins in, another CC, and seems worried about the impending “Ikea tsunami” of which she feels Curb Collective are going into battle against. I like this attitude.
As I meet with more volunteers, I feel like there is something about people saving and recycling history that makes this place more than just another workshop. This start-up has soul.
What social start-ups are in your area?