Social Enterprise Auckland: creating new ways of doing business

24 June 2014

Social Enterprise Auckland is a collaborative project by Auckland Council, the Ākina Foundation and the Sustainable Business Network. Launched recently in Auckland, the collaboration is reshaping the way that business is done in Auckland, and NZ.

A relatively new phenomenon in New Zealand, Social Enterprises are hybrid organisations that trade goods and services to achieve social, environmental, economic and cultural outcomes.

Social enterprises provide a unique alternative to traditional social service provision. Traditionally social, environmental, economic and cultural initiatives are developed and implemented by government (the public sector), and delivered in partnership with either business (the private sector), or charities (the community sector).

Social enterprises provide new partnership options for government agencies to develop innovative new approaches to solve tough problems.

Social Enterprise Auckland is a collaborative platform for people who are interested in doing business in a new way.

“Our goal is to showcase the diverse range of social enterprises here in Auckland, and to help people who are interested in social enterprise to get involved in this exciting new field of endeavour.  We hope that this initiative will help catalyse further research, investment and momentum,” says Billy Matheson, Auckland Council’s Social Entrepreneurship advisor.

The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is focusing on social enterprises that enable the use of renewable energy. The Ākina Foundation provides development support to social enterprises who are tackling social and environmental challenges, and has recently developed the Launchpad, a six-month programme designed to get social enterprise ideas off the ground.

“We believe that social entrepreneurs are the game changers for the future, because they see innovation and enterprise as the key to progress. The challenge for social enterprises has been developing strong business models to support their aims. SBN is keen to help understand and work with them to help create these new models,” says Rachel Brown, SBN CEO.

The Ākina Foundation is growing social enterprise across New Zealand. Its support includes seed funding, business coaching, and access to pro-bono professional services. Its progressive programmes are designed to meet the needs of an emerging sector at all stages of venture development – design, validation, viability, and finally investment for scale and long-term sustainability.

“We value the diversity of the organisations we work with, which includes community organisations, social business startups, trading not-for-profits, and cross-sector joint ventures. We also recognise that they all need specialised support aligned to their culture, customers, and structure in order to succeed,” says Alex Hannant, Chief Executive of the Ākina Foundation.

Social Enterprise Auckland provides a platform for people with ideas that could be turned into social enterprise to connect with each other, find inspiration and information.

“Leaders from government, not for profit and business sectors are recognising that social enterprise offers a unique combination of social purpose and financial independence, and provides a new option for both customers and suppliers alike,” says Billy.  

If you’ve got a social enterprise idea that you’d like to develop; or if you’re a business looking to source your products and services from a business that is combining public benefit with commercial acumen, click here to find out more about Social Enterprise Auckland.

Click here to read about some great social enterprise initiatives, including SBN members Lovenotes, OOOOBY and Curative.