David Burns, the 218th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, runs one of the most meaningful businesses I’ve heard of in a long time.

Collective Leisure, which David co-founded in 2019, is Australia’s first social enterprise leisure management company. Its mission is to reduce physical inactivity and improve population health, while providing training and employment for people from marginalised communities.

As a social enterprise, Collective Leisure not only has to do work that benefits the community, it also has to reinvest at least 50% of its profits back into achieving its mission.

When David was growing up in England and Germany, he discovered that sport has an amazing power to unite people and offer community to those who feel socially isolated. 

David began his career doing inclusion and development work for the Football Association and councils. When he moved to Sydney in 2008, he changed from football to aquatics and leisure, working for councils and also managing leisure centres. In addition to running Collective Leisure, David continues to work with councils, as a consultant.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting David. Partly, it was because we bonded over our shared love of sport. Partly, though, it was because of a noticeable difference between us.

With my business, I’m obsessed with the bottom line; with David’s business, his focus is on trying to make the biggest impact and supporting those most in need. It was so nice to see David’s eyes light up as he described Collective Leisure’s work, from a program it runs for children with a disability to supporting people on their mental health recovery journey through sport.

This is a meaningful business that really is making the world a better place.