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Social Enterprise Network for NZ

Are you aware of developments associated with the creation of a practitioner-led Social Enterprise Network for NZ?

SENZ expects to seek members and founding partners in 2013. The role of SENZ will be to raise awareness, build capability and advocacy to develop a supportive and enabling environment for social enterprises to thrive throughout NZ. SENZ now has an “establishment board” and company created.

A business plan and value proposition are also almost complete thanks to support from AUT students and Deloittes.

In the meantime, Di Jennings, Convenor of the Community Economic Development Network has been undertaking research nationwide meeting social entrepreneurs, finding out what’s working, what isn’t and what social enterprise practitioners need to thrive.

Social enterprise activities are examined in many sectors including recycling, disability, iwi and Maori organisations, arts, tourism, health/mental health, digital media, community empowerment etc.Two distinct schools of thought or practice have emerged from the research to date – there are those developing social enterprises to trade in existing markets, and those that think the current economic paradigm is unsustainable and are thus establishing “alternative” local economies through community currencies, timebanking, savings pools etc.

Initial reflections are that social enterprise practitioners tend to be passionate, determined people; mainly operating in environments that provide minimal support or encouragement; large organisations and/or those with a track record are better positioned to access advice, skills and finance; smaller, newer organisations are much more challenged in these areas. Research highlights to date include:

Whale Watch, Kaikoura – the poster child for social enterprise in NZ… an inspiring story after railways restructuring led to unemployment, a Maori family mortgaged their house to get this project started to create local employment. Whale Watch now earns global awards for environmental tourism and employs up to 100 local people – with many small local businesses emerging as spin offs, making a huge difference to the local economy.

White Stone Civic Trust, Oamaru – another great story. The Whitesone Civic Trust had a vision and decided to take ownership of old heritage buildings (that most saw as a liability) – to create a unique tourist destination and reinvent the town. Oamaru is a good example of a community being supported by their local council to attain mutual outcomes.

Blueskin Energy Project, Coastal Otago – Unlike most other community energy enterprises around NZ involved in insulation programmes, Blueskin Power is working towards community-owned energy generation. There are many examples of this in the UK – it is an area of significant enterprise opportunity for local communities, to provide for the energy needs of their own community and sell excess energy to the national grid and creating funds for further community initiatives and enterprises.

Enspiral in Wellington are an eco-system of 85 people and 12 companies. While the core business is web development, the collective serves as an incubator for several web based social enterprises including: Bucky Box (a food distribution administration platform), Chalkle (an online marketplace for community education and peer-to-peer learning) and Loomio (a consensus and democratic decision making tool). Enspiral use an innovative business model to deliver great value to their customers as well as supporting new business start ups.

McLaren Park Henderson South Community Initiative (MPHS) in Waitakere, Auckland – Hubwest, the community hub recently opened by MPHS is state of the art, and a genuine reflection of local people’s aspirations. It is also a base from which to develop social enterprises.

Skylight, Wellington are an innovative counselling service that has reinvented itself as a social enterprise and now sells quality resources both locally and globally.

Elevator in Auckland is a very established social enterprise that offers a wide choice of supported employment options for people with disabilities in the greater Auckland region, through enterprise activity and through connections in the open employment market.

Changeability, also in Auckland, is a social enterprise under the umbrella of Connect, a mental health organisation. Changeability trades to fund the work of the parent body, specialising in change management and finding many customers in the private sector.

Xtreme Waste in Raglan is a community enterprise working in partnership with the Waikato District Council to manage Raglan’s solid waste. Within just 10 years, Xtreme Waste has helped divert 75% of waste from landfill, it employs 26 local people and is a major player in the Community Recycling Network, representing community enterprises in recycling, reuse, composting, waste reduction and waste education. CRN members are a great bunch of innovative people working together to working together towards Zero Waste, making up a significant proportion of the social enterprise sector

To stay in touch with what is happening on the CED/Social Enterprise scene, subscribe to the CED Bulletin at http://www.ced.org.nz/?p=2175.

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