By any measure, small businesses are an important part of the Australian economy. Described as the country’s economic “backbone”, small enterprises accounted for more than a third of Australia’s gross domestic product in 2019. In recent years they have created $414 billion of industrial value and employed 44 percent of Australia’s workforce. More than 97 percent of employing businesses are small businesses. These tiny economic building blocks are playing a huge role in Australia’s economic performance.

Yet while the economic value of small businesses is widely recognised, we know much less about the people who own them and about the social contributions they make in our communities. Who are the people behind the businesses that play such a pivotal role in Australia’s economy? What forces led them into small businesses creation or ownership and how are these businesses adding value to Australia in more than economic terms?

We explore these questions in our latest essay, ‘From the far side of the world to the corner of your street’, and discover how the informal connections built through small businesses in our neighbourhoods strengthen Australia’s social fabric.