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Brisbane’s for-purpose visitor experiences

The link between visitor economies and social entrepreneurship is potentially a very powerful way to communicate authentic stories about a place and its people. It's also a means to empower local social enterprises and extend their reach and mission. But the link and the potential power of social enterprises to add a very special dimension to the visitor experience is not well understood. If we understood and facilitate stronger links, we could increase the positive regenerative power of tourism.

Social enterprise and the visitor economy

Social enterprises deliver more than profit. They are businesses that are based on delivering a mission with social, environmental or other kind of positive impact in addition to being profitable. This mission is built into their business model and is part of the DNA of the business rather than an add-on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. They are different from charities, which often rely on donations, philanthropy, and in-kind support. In effect, the mission to do good is built in to the way the business operates, its impact, and the motivations of its owners and workers.

Social enterprises often have very important stories to tell. Cafes that support survivors of domestic violence or use surplus food, guided tours provided by those emerging from homelessness, nature based experiences run by land care groups, indigenous businesses supporting the continuation of their language and culture and which educate visitors, can all be social enterprises. They all deliver positive impacts and are, quite often, highly localised and place based.

These businesses have stories to tell which are deep, enduring, and can provide important learning opportunities about the world around us, about social and environmental issues. Locals and visitors alike can benefit from these ground-up positive impact businesses. They can provide riveting stories and insights that can transform the way visitors engage in and see the world.

At the Tourism CoLab we are passionate about supporting local businesses, community groups and other organisations who want to tell their stories, build impact and change the world. One visit, one story at a time.

Purpose and consumer trust

Edelman's research in brands and trust reveal that brands that deliver a higher purpose beyond profit are on the rise. They are stronger and more trust worthy. It's a trend they have been observing for almost a decade, and it's not just confined to developed economies. In fact, the wide variety of social enterprise in Low and Medium Income Countries (LMIC) have much to teach the 'Global North' about what makes a good, profitable, inspiring social business. Consumers are searching out meaning in their purchases, and it's a trend that has only become stronger under Covid.

In tourism, the trend was present prior to Covid. Visitors are increasingly conscious of the impacts of their choices, and a growing proportion of visitors are interested in reducing their impact. They want to make sure that the businesses they support are good global citizens. Social enterprise, b-corps, for-purpose businesses, and those that deliver a higher purpose alongside delivering good tourism products, experiences and services, will perform better than those businesses focused on profit alone. It's a trend that is evident at the global level, with businesses like Planeterra, Adventure Alternative and Intrepid, and at the local level is place-based, community supported businesses.

We think that no matter if you are a local or a visitor, you might be passionate about this too. But we also understand that it can sometimes be difficult to find the ways in which you can support businesses, communities and organisations deliver social good. Local tourism organisations rarely think about the social impact dimension of the visitor economy.

With this in mind, we decided to put together a map of businesses in Brisbane that are working to deliver social, environmental or cultural benefits in addition to being profitable. Shops, eateries, collectives and resources organisations have been included in this handy map.

This map was curated as part of the visitor economy activation experiment run by intern, Katie Jowett in 2019. Her project was to identify and examine how social enterprise and for-purpose businesses can use the visitor economy in Brisbane to bring social and economic benefits to the local community.

Make sure to check out the full list of Brisbane’s for-purpose businesses in our listing below. Many of these businesses are more than a location, working within the Brisbane community to deliver benefits. 

Visit businesses with purpose

Business Directory

Food & Drink Campos Coffee – Coffee shops which believe that Quality Coffee Cultivated by Good is the belief that coffee only tastes good when it’s made ethically and with care. (With three locations across the city) Cost Price Cafe – a business model with a difference, at Cost Price Cafe everything is sold at cost price, leaving you with highly affordable coffee. Find them in McCaskie Park. Expresso Train – located in Brisbane’s North-side, Expresso Train is one of Brisbane’s oldest social enterprise cafes. They provide meaningful work for people facing barriers to employment, serving delicious seasonal food. Hope on the Boundary Cafe – this cafe found in Brisbane’s West End (and their sister cafe) provide opportunities for people facing barriers to employment to learn new skills and gain experience in hospitality. Hope Street Cafe – this cafe located on Hope St in the centre of the city (and their sister cafe) provide opportunities for people facing barriers to employment to learn new skills and gain experience in hospitality. Mu’ooz Eritrean Restaurant & Catering – enjoy North-East African cuisine to eat in or take away, and help Mu’ooz to support the Eritrean Australian Women & Family Support Network Inc. Women who have suffered traumatic experiences of war, poverty and the lack of opportunity. The Lovewell Project Cafe – a breakfast and lunch restaurant with a view of the city from the top of Mt Gravatt. Supporting women from the Hope Foundation community to gain confidence and skills. Ziggy’s Coffee Bar – A coffee bar providing information and support for young people and their families in Redlands City and Bay Islands Area. Community Resources Brisbane Tool Library – A library with a difference. Here you can borrow power tools, equipment and other needed items on rent, building a more sustainable society and reducing waste. You can also rent camping and sports gear, so you need not buy that cheap bodyboard and leave it once you’re done with it. Instead, you can rent it! Jane Street Community Garden – A community garden in the heart of the city, providing a space for the community to come together to connect over the food we grow and eat. Shops, Markets & Produce BioMe – A zero-waste, toxin-free and ethical choice store right here in Brisbane. City Farm Nursery – Offers a place to purchase edible plants and other products to create and maintain edible gardens at home. It also offers specialist advice. City Farm Nursery is a small, intimate and specialized nursery. Food Connect Brisbane – Buy straight from the farm. All Food Connect produce is grown in harmony with local ecosystems using methods such as chemical-free, biodynamic, permaculture, as well as certified organic. Open House (73 Vulture St, West End) Open House is a boutique retail store and gallery located in the creative and community focussed inner-city suburb of West End, Brisbane. Brought to you by Local Maker’s Collective, Boxvintage and Aboriginal creative agency Blaklash, Open House offers a unique selection of products from local makers, artists and artisans. A unique range of products are available in-store, including hand-made and vintage fashion, ceramics, jewellery, homewares and a carefully curated offering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander products. You can also follow them on Instagram. Northey Street City Farm/Organic Market – Northey Street City Farm is a community garden based on the principles of permaculture. With a weekly organic farmers market. The Davies Park Market – A weekly and vibrant market, where all the locals shop, eat and enjoy the weekend. Visit, Educate & Explore Birrunga Gallery and Dining – An artist for artists gallery & Birrang dining experience here in Brisbane’s city centre. Black Card Cultural Tours – explore Brisbane with local Aboriginal Tour Guides discovering the heart of the city. Blaklash Projects – an Aboriginal owned creative agency that specialises in the curation of exhibitions, events and bespoke creative projects that showcase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices and stories. You can follow them on Facebook or Instagram. Daisy Hill Koala Sanctuary & Park – Daisy Hill Conservation Park is a 435 hectare of open eucalypt forest and a safe haven for local wildlife. Hike, BBQ, Walk, Swim and visit the Koala Sanctuary. Northey Street City Farm – Northey Street City Farm is a community garden based on the principles of permaculture. Believing in educating children and adults to make a more sustainable future. Spirits of the Red Sand – Spirits of the Red Sand is an Aboriginal experience, an experience of the meeting of two cultures, Maori and Aboriginal. Cultures with incredible similarities and deep mutual respect for one another. Yalingbila Tours – Experience whale watching with Yalingbila Tours, as their local Aboriginal guides share cultural knowledge about Yalingbila and the marine life living around Brisbane.

More than a location

These for-purpose businesses may not have a permanent all year round location for you to visit. But they are still a great resources to utilise and be aware of when in the city. They may even be supplying or working in partnership with the businesses you visit while in Brisbane.

Food Connect Shed – The Food Connect Shed is all about great people working together to create a healthy and fair food system. The multi-purpose green innovation Shed is a collaborative place that inspires, connects and empowers people to realise enterprising ideas to make the world a better place.

OzHarvest Brisbane – OzHarvest is the first perishable food rescue organisation in Australia. They provide much-needed assistance to vulnerable men, women and children across Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Newcastle and Perth as well as regional areas through our regional food rescue program, REAP.

The World Biggest Garage Sale – World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS) is a Brisbane based organisation, designing solutions to commercialise the circular economy through the activation of dormant goods for good. They maximise the value of goods already in the economy, through the circular principles of recycle, repurpose, reuse, and re-commerce. In doing so, they are diverting landfill, and drawing wealth from waste which is invested back into the local communities. They are currently developing a digital platform and toolkit to enable communities globally to reproduce our large-scale re-commerce events. WBGS wants to provide positive impact for people, planet and profit for purpose on a global level. Find out about their upcoming events on their Facebook



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