What's Up Wednesday

The Monthly Co.

An often overlooked issue for women at risk is the lack of access they have to affordable sanitary products. But with the help of the Monthly Co, you can change all that – and get top-quality sanitary products for yourself while you’re at it!

When you subscribe to this social enterprise, they’ll deliver 100% organic tampons to your door every month – and for every order they send out to you, they’ll donate a box of tampons to women in need, through their partnership with Aviva (formerly the Christchurch Women’s Refuge). The tampons are also 100% biodegradable, which makes them better for the environment than regular synthetic or conventional cotton tampons.

But in order to launch this business, they need your help. They’re offering a range of rewards for pledgers, including pre-orders of their tampon subscriptions. We decided to get in touch with Isabelle and Josie to hear more about why you should be pledging to this social enterprise:

Why do you think this campaign is important?

When women or families are struggling to pay for rent and food, the recurring monthly cost of sanitary items such as tampons is a real burden. We know that tampons are a necessity item and unfortunately there is a group of girls and women who cannot afford them and are turning to unhygienic alternatives or missing work or school as a consequence. As a social enterprise, The Monthly Co. is all about making a positive social and environmental impact – together we can shake up the tampon industry in New Zealand. We’re on a mission to make lives more convenient for women on the go through our tampon subscriptions while also helping women and girls in need. With every order we send out to our paying subscribers, we donate a box of tampons to our charitable partner Aviva (formerly the Christchurch Womens Refuge).

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

Our mission is what motivated us to reach out to our crowd because we can only make The Monthly Co. a reality with the support of others who are willing to back our campaign. If we are successful in reaching our target we can order our first shipment of 100% organic tampons from Europe and start delivering tampons to your door, while also supporting our charitable partner Aviva.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

At the moment our first 100 pledgers go in the draw to win a $200 Cakes by Anna voucher (if you haven’t heard of Cakes by Anna – definitely worth looking up!). Down the line we have some exciting giveaways planned to keep up the campaign momentum!

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

Thank you SO much to all those that have already made a pledge, together we really can make a difference to the lives of at-risk women and girls – to those yet to the pledge, we can only make The Monthly Co. a reality with your support – pledge today!

To get pledging to The Monthly Co now, check out their campaign right here.

Social enterprise: A better way to do business

It’s time to hear from a lady who lives and breathes social enterprise. Tricia Fitzgerald has studied social enterprise for years (she’s even got a PhD in it!), and currently sits as the chair of Social Enterprise Auckland (SEA), a collaborative group of social enterprises and supporters working for sustainable social change in Auckland. She discusses the social enterprise movement and how SEA is helping to support and grow the sector in New Zealand.

Tricia

 

A much debated question: what is social enterprise and why is it important?

Social enterprise is a global movement that is steadily building momentum here in Auckland. Leaders from government, not for profit and business sectors are recognizing that social enterprise offers a unique combination of social purpose and financial independence – mixing mission with market – and it provides a new option for both customers and suppliers alike. Social enterprises are hybrid organisations that trade goods and services to achieve social, environmental, economic, and cultural outcomes. They represent a different – arguably better – way of doing business because they balance the commercial side of business with social goals or missions. In my opinion, social enterprise is going to help change the world.

If you have the choice to buy from a business that is solely commercially-focused versus one that also provides social benefits, then conscious consumers are going to choose to spend their money where it will have a positive impact. Social enterprises also provide a unique alternative to traditional social service provision. Traditionally social, environmental, economic, and cultural initiatives are developed and implemented by government, and delivered in partnership with either business or charities. Government agencies now have another option and are increasingly partnering with social enterprises to develop innovative new approaches to solving tough problems. We are now seeing long-standing social issues being addressed in proactive, sustainable and responsive ways.

 

Why was Social Enterprise Auckland created?

SEA was formed in 2012 in response to a call from Auckland Council representative, Joel Umali, to advise Council on social enterprise issues. We formally launched in 2015, and held our first event, “Beyond Purpose – Making Money Count” in July 2016. These events have become our hallmark – bringing together social entrepreneurs, supporters, funders and a variety of perspectives from public, private and community sectors to inspire, encourage and act as a collective. We’re running our next event “Creating Our Tomorrow” on Friday 22nd September as an appetiser for the upcoming Social Enterprise World Forum in Christchurch, and some tickets are still available.

 

So what do SEA care about?

Our main aims are to help grow and normalise the social enterprise sector in Auckland through providing information, connection and a public voice to social enterprises. Overall, the vision is that social enterprise becomes just another (normal) way of doing business.
It’s brilliant to see leaders like Tricia at the heart of social enterprise in New Zealand. You can become a member of SEA (for free!) to hear more about their journey, the initiatives that they’re a part of (like their upcoming social enterprise directory), and the changes that they’re helping to create in and around Auckland.

Exporting our expertise over the ditch

We’ve been watching the proposed equity crowdfunding legislation changes in Australia for a while.

 

In 2015, off the back of our second equity crowdfunding campaign, I had over 20 meetings in three days in Australia chatting to people in the know about what was coming. I wrote about it here.

At the time, I was excited about the possibility, but also a bit concerned with the almost single minded focus on “protecting mom and pop investors”, rather than supporting companies to grow.

 

It’s taken Australia a while to get their legislation across the line. From first calls for submissions in 2014 (the same year NZ launched equity crowdfunding), they’ve now announced the date that the Corporations Amendment (Crowd-sourced Funding) Act 2017 will come into effect on 29 September 2017. Last month, we provided feedback on over 300 pages of guidance notes, legislation, and templates provided by ASIC (as seen in the image….).

There are still some areas of concern:

  • How information is shared and what information companies should / shouldn’t provide – there are rules that say offer documents are not allowed to be emailed.
  • The need to be a public unlisted company, rather than a proprietary (private) company – this will be expensive for companies, and currently 99% of Australian companies are proprietary (not public).  
  • The sheer volume of guidance and regulation – it feels like over regulation to protect investors not support companies (which was my original concern)

 

If Australia over-regulates they might face the same fate as America, where unbelievably low amounts of capital were invested through crowdfunding platforms in the first year. After the regulation came into play in May 2016 only NZD $52million was invested in the first year in the whole United States of America. By comparison, New Zealand had NZD $12.4million invested through equity crowdfunding in the first year despite a population less than 2% the size of the USA.  Critics believe this is due to the cost for companies being so high due to over regulation.

 

But, despite being a bit concerned, we’ve decided the only way we can know if we want to enter the fray is to be there. So, we’re doing it. We’re expanding to Australia.

In order to do that, I’m moving. I’m heading over to Brisbane for six months to set up our Australian arm. We’re excited to see how things work over the ditch, and help as many people as possible. Why Brisbane?

 

Two reasons. First, we don’t want to be where everyone else will be competing. We want to set up our own niche, and grow from there with the support of our crowd. Sort of like how we did in it New Zealand, setting up in Wellington first before creating an office in Auckland. And, in a lot of ways, Brisbane is quite like Wellington. A smaller city comparatively, not the banking sector hub, but with a love of craft products (*cough* beer *cough*), a focus on local produce, an eclectic arts scene, and hipsters.

 

Secondly, we’ve been lucky to be selected for the HotDesq programme. That means we’ll have a ready set network, and some funding, to get set up.

 

In return, we need to help build and support the Brisbane ecosystem. Which is awesome, because that’s what we do here in New Zealand anyways. Part of my role is to actively educate and inspire entrepreneurs. And, we can’t wait to do that in Australia, taking all of the inspiration and experience from New Zealand and helping to create a new way of raising capital in Australia.

 

We think this move can only be good for PledgeMe in New Zealand: growing our reach, learning from Australia, and building a brand that helps people fund the things they care about. There are over 2.1million SME’s in Australia (compared to just under 500,000 here in New Zealand), so the opportunity is pretty clear. 

Our team will be taking on some of my responsibilities while I’m Australian based, but I will still be working with New Zealand campaigners from over the ditch. I mean, a Google Hangout from Wellington to Dunedin or Brisbane to Dunedin isn’t that much different, right?

 

If you have any tips, tricks, or folk we should definitely connect with, please comment below.

What's Up Wednesday

Tabitha Dombroski

Tabitha Dombroski has been dancing since she was 3, and has known from an early age that she wanted to be a dancer. This year, she gained the honour of being invited to continue her dance education at the prestigious John Cranko Schule in Stuttgart, Germany. But due to her family’s financial situation, Tabitha has been supporting her own dancing for the past year, rising at 5.30am each morning to work her two jobs. In order to afford to live in Stuttgart and achieve her dream, she needs the support of her crowd. So we got in touch to see why you should be helping Tabitha with the next step in her dance career.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

The campaign is extremely important to me. Its success will mean I can fully support myself for the first 3 months in Stuttgart. Without the support of others I would not be able to follow my dreams. It is such a privilege and rare opportunity to be offered to train with The John Cranko Schule. PledgeMe and this campaign has helped me so much. Through the campaign I have received not only financial help but lots of messages of love and support. I aim to be a ballet dancer in Europe and this next step makes reaching this goal that much more possible. I could not do this without PledgeMe and my generous supporters. The dream is closer then ever.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

There is such a strong, tight knit dance community. Everyone knows everyone and we had spoken to a few groups of people about starting up a pledge page, and they were all so supportive.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

I left to London on the 28th of August and I go to Stuttgart on the 6th of September. I will be posting heaps of updates of how it’s all going. And also for the rewards, they are all starting to come together so will be sharing those too.

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

I would like to thank my crowd for their generous pledges, thoughtful comments and their love. I have felt it in spades! xx

To pledge to Tabitha’s campaign and help her achieve her dream, head over to her page right here!

What's Up Wednesday

RiverWatch

New Zealand is in a freshwater crisis. We know the quality of our rivers is in threat, but currently only 8% of Aotearoa’s 450,000km of rivers, lakes and streams are tested for water quality, because our processes are expensive and time consuming. Without this information, it is impossible to know if our rivers are safe for swimming.

This is where the team behind RiverWatch comes in. Winner of the 2016 WWF Conservation Award and finalist in the 2017 Wellington Gold Awards, once developed this water sensor could test water quality parameters to determine freshwater health. But they need your help to make that happen. W

We had a chat to Grant (pictured!) about why you should be pledging to have RiverWatch watch rivers for you:

Why do you think this campaign is important?

Its important that people see our PledgeMe campaign as a way they can directly contribute to helping cleaning up our rivers, lakes and streams. The government happily gives away millions to irrigation and zero to measuring the effects of agricultural intensification. I have been a fresh water activist campaigning for swimmable rivers for 8 years. Over this time I have determined two major impediments to cleaning things up. One we must have water quality data from at least 65% of our rivers and lakes. This sits at only 8% currently. The other major issue is sedimentation with NZ 10 times the world average we need to plant a lot of trees on riparian and slipping land ASAP.
RiverWatch has considered all of this in its design and the 5 probe launch model. Turbidity is vital telling us just how many days of the year the water is actually clean or clear. Dissolved oxygen indicates what fish can survive and the presence of algae blooms from high concentrations of water soluble nitrates and phosphate sedimentation. PH, Temp and Conductivity build back ground data that run with algorithms across DO& Turbidity providing indicator levels of nitrates & phosphate and if the river is swim-able or likely to pose risk to human health. When these are run across GPS weather data the readings are good enough to show no swim post, fishing data, yes good to swim, and many other indicator values.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

So many people have got to the stage that all they see are problems with water and it goes into the to hard basket. There is a huge amount of false information out there on water quality mostly because of the lack of data, people feel confused. We wanted to reach out to them with a solution that will not cost them any more than their understanding the quality issue and a pledge. It is a direct way for them to contribute to tackling the problem.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

Coming up we want to announce our collaboration with ESR and development of an E-Coli tester.

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

The team at RiverWatch have put in many thousands of hours and there own funds to get to where we are today with 100% support from not for profit WaiNZ. We need just a small amount of money to put RiverWatch into a robust beta testing program prior to production. The best way NZers can help to clean up our rivers is to support RiverWatch.

 To make a big splash and clean up our rivers, get pledging right here.

How to crowdfund community engagement

In July 2013, I was asked to come and talk about innovation for the local Wellington City Council. At the time I joked with the organiser that I didn’t actually like the word innovation, I liked the idea of doing things better. That’s probably not the best joke to make to someone with innovation in their title. But, little did I know that my ten minute talk on crowdfunding would turn into a new (and arguably better) model of community engagement for the council.

At the event I shared the story of Blueskin Resilient Community Energy Trust. A group with a very long title, and a pretty big goal.

This community group down in Dunedin want to put up a locally owned wind turbine, to power their community and fund local projects. They decided to crowdfund the money they needed to put a fence around their wind measurement tower. An $8,000 expense, and the next step towards their goal of erecting their turbine. Not only did they raise their money, but they engaged their local community in clean energy in a completely different way. They had their local residents offering rewards for their campaign, from unicycle lessons to pieces of artwork to home killing chickens.

That story resonated with two of the council workers, Zack and Nigel, and they wanted to see if they could replicate community engagement around clean energy here in Wellington.

The Low Carbon Energy Challenge was born

After a few conversations, the council partnered with us and Enspiral to deliver a small matched funded “Smart Energy Challenge”. The pilot was launched in 2014, and has been running every year since.

The basic premise is that each selected participant is supported with workshops as they develop their plans. They are expected to raise money from the community to validate the support of their idea, and that is then eligible for matched funded.

So far organisations like Space Between, Misprint, Switched on Bikes and more have raised over $180,000 in funding. The latest challenge launched last week, with applications closing on 15 August here.

Ideas selected need to focus on waste, energy, housing or transport, and will receive $1,000 as a “start up stipend”. Over eight weeks you’ll be supported through structured workshops to launch a crowdfunding campaign.

What we’ve learned

Along the way we’ve learned a few things about how community crowdfunding works:

 

Crowdfunding is always scary

Even with the support of a programme, you’re still putting yourself out there publicly asking for support. It’s scary! But, with the support of a programme and community, it’s actually more likely you’ll succeed.

 

Matched funding increases your chances (to 100%)

Every crowdfunding campaign launched under the Low Carbon / Smart Energy banner has met their crowdfunding goals. The 100% success rate shows that support building and validating campaigns increases your chances of crowdfunding success.

 

It’s easier when you’ve already got a plan you’re working towards

Getting your crowd engaged with a completely new idea can be hard. Doing the programme shows that you’re committed, but the longer you’ve been working on your plan the easier it gets. So, if you just thought of your idea last week it might be harder to get across the line than someone who has been planning their product for five years (even if that planning was just on nights and weekends).

 

Do you have a plan you’re working towards? You have until 15 August to get your applications in for the fourth year of the Low Carbon Challenge.

http://www.lowcarbonchallenge.nz/

What's Up Wednesday

Help RockEnrol get more young people out to vote!

This has been a pretty interesting few days for politics, to say the least. And as the election draws ever closer, things are only going to get more interesting. But young people’s voices still aren’t being heard by our politicians – because not enough young people are showing up to vote, and the rules are made by the people who show up.

But RockEnrol wants to change all that.

Launched in 2014, RockEnrol was responsible for increasing the youth turnout in that election through social media, music, art and events, all aiming to build and activate young people’s community power. This year, they want to take it even further, and reach every young person in Aotearoa with a message of hope, and a call to action to vote. They’re young, intersectional, energised, organised and totally nonpartisan – and they need your support. So we got in touch with the unstoppable Laura O’Connell Rapira to talk about why you should be getting on board.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

There are millions of reasons to vote, but here’s the most simple; politicians will only address young people’s needs and ideas when we get out and place our votes.
At RockEnrol, we work together in new and creative ways to get more young people out to place their votes, so that more politicians listen to us.
Young people today have the opportunity to create the world we want to live in by actively taking part in politics and stepping forward this election to vote. We know the Aotearoa New Zealand we want is one that offers abundance, a clean green environment, a place where there are jobs for all, a safe place, a place that offers good education for all people and a home we can be proud of.
We can make a difference this election. So this campaign is about bringing more rangatahi to stand together and be voters!

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

We believe in people power and particularly, the power of small actions multiplied by the many to create ripple effects of change. Crowdfunding is one of the best ways to see that people power in action.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

The crowdfunding campaign finishes tomorrow, but the RockEnrol campaign is really only just about to begin! Over the next eight weeks, we will engage thousands of young people in a conversation about the importance of voting. RockEnrol are training and deploying volunteers nationwide to get more young people out to vote. From August 24 – September 6, LUSH staff in all of their stores nationwide will also be talking to every single customer about the importance of their vote.

We will amplify the voices of young people in social and traditional media. We will offer a counter narrative to ‘youth apathy’ by being young and engaged in politics.
We will speak to young people in the cultural mediums they already know and love. RockEnrol works with musicians, artists and comedians to encourage young people to engage in politics. We will visit South Auckland, Central Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Whangarei, Rotorua and Gisborne.

We will also work with NGOs and issue experts to ensure the young people who have engaged in our campaign have all of the information they need to make an informed decision come election time.

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

If you would like to get involved with the RockEnrol campaign, beyond chipping in, we’d love your support! We are a majority volunteer-powered organisation and you can sign up here.

To get involved with RockEnrol before their campaign closes tomorrow, get pledging right here.

What's Up Wednesday

Cantata Memoria

Sir Karl Jenkins is the world’s most performed contemporary choral composer (say that nine times fast!) He wrote Cantata Memoria to commemorate the Aberfan mining disaster in Wales, but the team behind a new PledgeMe campaign want to put on a performance here in NZ, in memory of our own mining disaster at Pike River. With your help, the Wellington Youth Orchestra can bring this concert to Wellington in October of this year.

To find out more about this amazing idea, we got in touch with one of the organisers, Wim Oosterhof:

Why do you think this campaign is important?

We are passionate about making this latest work from the world’s most performed contemporary composer – Sir Karl Jenkins – accessible to New Zealanders. The music is exquisite and also very accessible for people who may not be attracted to classical music. Understanding and appreciating this music is enhanced by the fact that it “tells a story” and is accompanied by visuals. We were able to secure the rights to show a video that tells the same story as the music and includes rarely seen archive material, licensed of the BBC Wales Archives.

A group of 30 New Zealand singers went to New York earlier in the year and sang in the USA Premiere of Cantata Memoria: For the Children of Aberfan at Carnegie Hall. They experienced singing and rehearsing with a world-renowned conductor, who is a personal friend and expert interpreter of Sir Karl Jenkins’ music – Dr Jonathan Griffith. When Dr Griffith offered to come to New Zealand to conduct the New Zealand Premiere, we realised that for the singers who could not be in New York, this would be a tremendous opportunity to gain the same experience at home. The PledgeMe campaign is set up to help us pay for travel and accommodation for this esteemed American conductor. If we reach more than the target, we will use a surplus to enhance the visual backdrop by using a bigger screen and more powerful projection equipment.

After starting to organise the concert, we realised that it was extremely important for two
communities in New Zealand to see this work performed: the Welsh Community, because the music commemorates a terrible mining disaster in Aberfan, Wales; and New Zealanders, for whom it is a reminder of the mining disaster at Pike River in 2010.

Both mining disasters were preventable and caused grief and anger in the respective communities. The singers, who went to New York in January, went there “with Pike River in their minds” and dedicated their performance to the families and friends of the Pike River victims.

Included in the programme on Labour Day this year is a performance of another of Sir Karl Jenkins’ compositions – Benedictus from The Armed Man – which will be dedicated to the Pike River families. The concert will bring the two communities together, when members of the Pike River community who attend the concert will be hosted by people from the Wellington Welsh Society.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

To stage a production like this is expensive (even more so on a public holiday). We want to make sure this amazing concert is accessible to as many New Zealanders as possible, and so we have kept registration fees and ticket prices well below what would be required to cover the cost. Therefore, we considered fund-raising, because we want to reach out to a wider audience (initially via friends and family of participants) and regarded PledgeMe an excellent platform to involve a wider group.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

Our main goal, of course, is to allow as many people as possible to experience this music, and so our ongoing aim is to “Fill the Hall”. Therefore – via social media, word-of- mouth and other promotional activities – we want to let as many people as possible know that the concert is coming.

More information can be found here. To increase accessibility, a 20% discount on tickets prices is offered to early birds!
We are also focused on reaching out to the business community to give them the opportunity to advertise, and to be seen as culturally and socially responsible through their support for the concert. Businesses can either advertise in the concert programme or ‘adopt’ a conductor or one or more of the amazing line-up of soloists.

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

This event has drawn international attention: 20 singers from the Mornington Peninsula Chorale in Victoria, Australia, will come to Wellington and sing with us in the choir. This concert is very much focussed on Youth: the orchestra is the Wellington Youth Orchestra, and they will not only accompany the premiere of Cantata Memoria: For the Children of Aberfan, but also showcase their talent as an orchestra playing other pieces under their conductor Simon Brew. Among the performers in the premiere is an 80-strong youth choir (with singers from Wellington Young Voices, St. Mark’s school choir and singers from Nelson). And of course the music is – in the words of the composer – a celebration of
childhood. Although it expresses a story about a specific incident, it goes much further than that and brings a message of hope, going from darkness to light.

We hope that many people can experience that on Labour Day in the Michael Fowler Centre.

To support this commemorative concert, take a look at the campaign page right here.

The ugly, the bad and the good of lower income consumer lending

Robert Choy is a lender-for-good. He runs Ngā Tangata Microfinance (Ngā Tangata), providing small, fair interest-free loans to those on lower incomes, helping them break the shackles of loan sharks and payday lenders or purchase productive assets. We’ve got a common hero – Muhammad Yunus – and he also shares a common hero with my mam – Clint Eastwood! Robert shares his experience with us.

Ngā Tangata Microfinance’s Robert Choy

 

Clint Eastwood’s classic 60’s movie portrays a bounty hunter, a mercenary and a bandit, depicted in the film’s now famous title “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. Could the enduring name of this epic Spaghetti Western resemble the credit environment we experience in Aotearoa today?

Visiting New Zealand recently, Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, considered the father of social business and microcredit, has said that “credit is a human right that should be treated as such” and “if we are looking for one single action which will enable the poor to overcome their poverty, I would focus on credit”.

Whether we agree with Professor Yunus or not, we’d surely promote a safe and fair credit environment within a responsible and educated society as crucial. Shameful to say, the current consumer lending environment in Aotearoa can best be described as ugly if you are on a low income, with limited financial choices before you, should you need to avail your rights to affordable credit.

Regardless of income level, crises or emergencies inevitably occur: the car will break down and we can’t get to work, the fridge will stop working, or children become ill and need to see a doctor. Once financial reserves and the generosity of family and friends are exhausted, and without access to mainstream credit sources, such situations force those on low incomes to take the only other available option: easy-access, high cost loan sharks, payday lenders or mobile traders.

Third tier finance companies provide loans with interest rates ranging from 20-40%, but the default interest rate can be up to 10% above that, with numerous extra penalty charges also added. Payday lenders provide only short term lending ideally, but at an outrageous cost, often charging at least 1.2% per day (or 438% annually). While truck vendors or mobile traders often charge no interest on purchases, their prices are inflated up to three times the norm, and administration and fees will ensure they reap more than 100% profit on every transaction. Unlike many parts of the world, in New Zealand there is no legal limit on interest rates or on the total cost of credit. Both these protections are critical to address the ugly environment of predatory lending facing our poorest citizens.

The resultant poverty trap is that of unmanageable debt, which is especially bad and tragic in its consequences for those on low incomes. High interest debt compounded by excessive charges rapidly becomes unmanageable, with unsustainable repayments causing stress amongst family members, limiting funds needed to purchase food and other essentials, and diminishing any remaining assets the family may have. It also negatively affects the wellbeing of the wider community, darkens the public perception of debt and contradicts the norms of social justice that we in New Zealand hold dear.

However, amongst the bad and ugly, there is good news! Ethical lenders such as ourselves at Ngā Tangata (with capital from Kiwibank and in partnership with local budgeting services to support clients with financial capability) are redressing the villainy of debt, creating an enabling tool to lift people out of poverty. Paying off their high interest debt and replacing it with a loan to NTM can at times release $20, $50, $70 or even more back into the family budget each week, providing money for essential food or necessities previously forsaken.  A fundamental aspect of our kaupapa is to facilitate clients successfully paying off their loans and being supported in the long term towards financial independence.

More good to report is that the Commerce Commission is taking increasing legal action against predatory lenders since the amendments to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act and the introduction of the Responsible Lending Code in 2015. In 2016 the Commission obtained fines against six mobile truck traders in excess of $500,000 and recently an online loan company was recently required to refund  $1.4 million in unreasonable fees to borrowers.

Our current lack of consumer protection against the ugliness of usury, predatory lending and the unmanageable debt it spawns, undermines the economy, and creates financial stress and hardship. Clearly these are bad outcomes for those already on a low income. While organisations like Ngā Tangata and other responsible lenders are endeavouring to make a difference, surely the greatest good in the interests of all, would be a financial system that is sound, ethical and socially responsible.

Access to credit – a fundamental human right. Powerful.

What's Up Wednesday

Help Renee Finish Her Book!

Renee has spent the last year travelling the length of New Zealand, talking to 110 kiwis aged between 100-110. She’s interviewed centenarians from every region, and now she wants to take those interviews and turn them into a book! Her hope is that she can preserve our New Zealand history through these stories.

But in order to write up the book, she needs your help! She’s got some great rewards on offer, so we had a chat to her about why she wants you to get on board:

Why is this campaign important?

It is massively important because without this funding I won’t be able to finish writing up the oral history/interviews of 110 people living in New Zealand that are over 100.

My goal is to preserve our New Zealand history through sharing stories and memories of our centenarians. I want all New Zealanders to value the elderly and to read and appreciate their stories and contribution to our New Zealand society; but most importantly to not be forgotten or invisible in our communities but honoured and celebrated.

There is a real sense of urgency to complete the book and get it published as fast as I can. I have sadly had four centenarians die since I interviewed them earlier on in the year. Recording our New Zealand history through the eyes of people who can remember the end of WWI, were part of WWII, survived the great depression and numerous natural and national disasters and have seen so much change in New Zealand is invaluable.

This year I have  driven 7,720km and flown 5,000km = 12,050m (The same distance from New Zealand to Brazil or Russia), travelled for 93 days, (13 weeks and 2 days) away from my home town of Nelson, visited 63 rest- homes/retirement villages, visited 25 people in their own homes, and interviewed 21 veterans from WWII.

Now I need support/finance to write up the interviews and put the book together.

This will involve dictating hours and hours and hours of interviews. Reading through memoirs, diaries, documents and military records, editing photographs and working on design and layout for the book.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

This year as I have travelled all around New Zealand I have met some amazing people along with my 110 interviews of people over 100. Whether its been the person I have sat next to on the plane, the nursing staff, children, grandchildren or neighbours -people are very intrigued in who I am interviewing and the stories that I have heard.

Many are surprised at how young I am and amazed that I am working on this book independently with my camera bag, video, tri-pod and iPhone to record the interviews.

Families and the centenarians really look forward to me coming for the interview. Often the men wear a tie. I had one lady wear a dress and high heels! Family gather around and I begin asking questions and hear stories about their lives growing up in New Zealand. People kept thanking me and become emotional at the idea of me recording their father or mother’s oral history that will be kept and treasured in a book. I thought it was worth reaching out to the crowd of people connected to the centenarians, including the RSA, Age Concern, the bowling and bridge clubs, etc.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

Yes, lots!

Last Friday The Project featured a follow up story about the book I am working on and promote my PledgeMe page. The story is about 2 brothers reuniting after 35 years! They both thought that each brother was dead. Until Ben was spotted on The Project as a part of my interview in April. The full interview about Ben (101 in a few days) and Joe was on The Project last Friday!

I also have other New Zealand businesses that will be sending more products as rewards for me to load up next week.

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

A massive thank you to the people who have pledged, shared the link and told their friends about my PledgeMe page.

I have been blown away with the generosity of New Zealand businesses that have donated puffer jackets, coffee, chocolate, peanut butter and liquorice as rewards for my page.

Even Winston Peters has got behind the PledgeMe page.

He sent me this message today:

“ I am very impressed with the initiative you have shown in commencing such an endeavour and appreciate there must be a large amount of work required in collating all that you have obtained so far ”. – Rt Hon Winston Peters, MP for Northland

To support Renee’s novel and help tell the stories of our centenarians, check our her project right here.