The Big Idea – Australia’s leading social enterprise immersion and competition for university students

The Big Idea is coordinated by The Big Issue, Australia’s longest standing and most significant social enterprise. The Big Issue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that delivers solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people to positively change their lives.

What is The Big Idea?

The Big Idea will leverage The Big Issue’s expertise and networks to immerse university students in the world of social enterprise.  Students are encouraged to develop their own social enterprise idea, which will be put to our panel of expert judges.  Both undergraduate and postgraduate students can get involved.

Participating students will learn with us during the second half of the year, gaining unprecedented access to social entrepreneurs, Australian ‘Thought Leaders’ and experts across various sectors.  This guidance, advice and direction will ensure students are well placed to understand social issues and develop their ideas into viable business plans.

Meet the people involved.



Congratulations to the 2018 winning teams!

In 2018, students from 14 universities participated in The Big Idea, submitting more than 100 business plans for consideration.

For the first time in The Big Idea’s history, both the undergraduate winners and postgraduate winners were from the same University – the University of New South Wales! Bugisu Project and Flower2Empower.

The Bugisu project from the University of New South Wales is a social business that supplies specialty coffee to Australian workplaces while reinvesting 100 percent of profits into gender equality programs in Uganda where the coffee is grown. The Bugisu Project is zero waste, delivering coffee in reusable canisters and recycling used coffee grounds.

Flower2Empower, also  from the University of New south Wales, is an Indonesian-based social enterprise that upcycles wedding flower waste to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The enterprise makes pressed flower candles and soaps targeted the the wedding favours and decorations market.

Universities – Register Now!

Universities are invited to register their interest for The Big Idea. Places are limited, so please contact The Big Issue to discuss a partnership and secure your university’s place.
University staff interested in learning more about The Big Idea are invited to join our Observer Program to experience the immersion and competition first-hand. You will get the chance to meet our social enterprise experts, hear from guest speakers and get an insight into the delivery style and format of the competition. To join our Observer Program, please send your contact details to You can also visit the About page to find out more on this groundbreaking initiative and how your students can get involved.

For Media enquiries, please contact us on (03) 9663 4533, or complete the form on our Contact page.