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Fellows scholarship to help Glendon shape social enterprise future

Fellows scholarship to help Glendon shape social enterprise future

Fellows scholarship to help Glendon shape social enterprise future

21 July 2017

Glendon Mar (pictured left) is congratulated on his Fellows Program scholarship by Lieutenant Colonel Kelvin Pethybridge, Chief Secretary-in-charge, Australia Eastern Territory.

By Simone Worthing

Every year in the Australia Eastern Territory, The Salvation Army Fellows program, sponsored by Aged Care Plus, awards scholarships of up to $5000 to employees, officers and volunteers towards their professional and personal development so they can continue to make a difference in the lives of others through The Salvation Army.

Glendon Mar, one of 17 recipients of this year’s Fellows program, serves as the Social Enterprise Manager at Oasis Youth Support Network in central Sydney. Oasis is known for its innovative approach to helping disadvantaged young adults experiencing homelessness. 

Glendon’s scholarship will enable him to travel to New Zealand in September for the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF), being held in Christchurch.

SEWF is an international event for social enterprises from all over the world to come together, share wisdom, build networks and discuss how to create a more sustainable future. It attracts social entrepreneurs, policy makers, community leaders, investors, academics and more from across the globe. 

As part of his role at Oasis, Glendon manages two social enterprises. “These aim to provide a financial outcome – self-sufficiency – and a social outcome of providing work opportunities for young people,” he explained.

Glendon manages Green Oasis – a gardening and grounds maintenance company looking after both Salvation Army and private properties; as well as Property Plus Group – a cleaning company that looks after several properties within the inner-city homelessness network.

“My aim is to grow these two businesses through tendering for other work and marketing,” Glendon explained. “My other aim is to start new social enterprises – such as a gourmet cookie-baking company. Another idea is a real estate company. If anyone out there has some ideas – I am all ears!”

Developing social enterprises is a key component of Glendon’s role.

“Being able to work gives someone a sense of worth, confidence and can put them on the road to independence – in other words, social inclusion,” he said. “I think it can be very frustrating when you can’t find work and sometimes those energies are channelled into unproductive activity. Our aim is to provide a step toward a real job through working with us.

“Green Oasis and Property Plus aim to be real employers. We give our clients a taste of the expectations and demands of employers.  Yet, at the same time, we are a lot more ‘forgiving’ and understanding when employees don’t turn up to work two or three times.  Then again, you have to draw the line somewhere.”

Glendon applied for the Fellows Scholarship as an opportunity to improve and learn. “You know, if nothing changes, nothing changes, and I didn’t want to get to the end of 2017 asking myself whether I had learnt anything or grown this year, professionally, or was just bringing the same bag of tricks into 2018,” he said.

Attending the SEWF will allow Glendon to stop spending as much time “in” the businesses and focus “on” the businesses in areas such as mission clarification, long-term thinking, relationship building and education. 

“This is far more valuable in the long run,” he said. “It will also give me the opportunity to reflect on questions such as: What do we want tomorrow’s social enterprises to look like? How do we want to operate and organise ourselves? What have we been doing in the past that can be done differently today? 

“By meeting like-minded people and talking about their business, I can see what works and what doesn’t work, be inspired, and bring these learnings to The Salvation Army. In short, hopefully I can get some great ideas for new start-ups!

“I don’t want to reinvent the wheel back here in Sydney or lean my ladder up against the wrong tree. So, my short-term goals are to apply the findings and case studies from the SEWF conference to my current role within Oasis with the outlook of shaping future enterprises.

“In the long term, I aim to be in a position to advise, encourage and add value to other social enterprises across The Salvation Army.”

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