Spotlight: Tom Allen

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What drives you?

I am passionate about social entrepreneurship and empowering people, organisations and enterprise to create positive impact. There are an abundance of wicked problems we are facing now and into the future. Social entrepreneurship allows us to turn these problems into opportunities. That’s what I find exciting.

How do you define social entrepreneurship?

Creating enterprise/s that are able to identify problems within a community or the world, and find ways to create positive social impact in these areas in a sustainable way. It’s not about building charities, it’s about building viable business models so that the impact can be sustained over time.

Biggest SocEnt trend you have seen in the last 5 years?

I was in Barcelona for 8 years and only returned to Australia 3 years ago. From that I would say that the perception of social entrepreneurship has changed: The value it creates is becoming more recognized, both from a business perspective and more conscious consumers.

Background

“After studying two semesters of design, I took a gap year and spent a year travelling around Europe. I ended up in Barcelona for the last few months and once I had completed my degree in industrial design, I was back there within ten days. I was considering a graduate degree, I wanted to learn Catalan and Spanish, get work experience in Europe. I completed a Masters in Product Design in Barcelona and got a corporate job designing large printers. I began to understand that my morals and ethics were not aligned with doing that kind of work. From there I set up my first design studio, The Emotion Lab and spent 2 years designing furniture, lighting and accessories. I quickly learnt how to run a viable business by diving in the deep end. During those 2 years, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t so interested in creating products (for the sake of making products… many of which end up in landfill), but about helping businesses develop effective solutions to create positive change. I began consulting to a range of small businesses and startups who shared a common vision. After 8 years in Barcelona, my wife and I felt it was time for a change so after more travel, we settled in Brisbane.”

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@TomAllenDesign

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