What's Up Wednesday

All Bi Myself wants you to join Mia’s journey

All Bi Myself is a web series about Mia, a 22 year old female who comes out as bisexual to her family and church. With two great episodes already produced, All Bi Myself needs your help to fund the rest of the series.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

This campaign is important because it represents someone who we simply do not see in the media. We have found that bisexuality too often misses out – both in mainstream media and in the LGBT community. All Bi Myself aims to fill that gap – we want people to see themselves in a character like Mia (the star character in our web series).

Everyone involved in the campaign is doing this as a passion project. We’re not out to make money but we do need funding to pull it all off!

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

We were actually inspired by ‘PSUSY’ – a NZ web series that prides itself as showcasing “flawed and gross” women. It launched a PledgeMe campaign in 2017. We are big fans of the team behind PSUSY and were inspired to also use PledgeMe as an alternative to funding.

We love the idea of getting our whole fanbase involved. It is awesome to know that people who enjoyed episodes one and two want to get behind us as we make the rest of the episodes in season one. We also love that we can offer our crowd rewards for supporting us, rather than simply asking for money.

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

Within our crowd is a fantastic posse of small businesses who have approached us to ask if they can donate in kind to our cause rather than giving us money. The great news is that it means we have some pretty cool rewards to pass onto our pledgers! So we definitely recommend keeping an eye on our PledgeMe page and our Facebook page as we have a few more surprise incentives to give away.

And since we are part of the film community, we are planning to thank our community for its support by releasing a ‘behind the scenes’ bloopers reel when we reach our goal. And we also have some pretty great rewards – the the opportunity to have your name on the credits of our episodes!

Finally, we will be hosting a bit of a countdown in the countdown to the close of our campaign. We would love our crowd from across New Zealand to join us by jumping onto the live stream on our Facebook page.

Anything you would like to shout out to your crowd?

We want to send our unwavering and undying love and appreciation to everyone who has already pledged. As for the people who are planning on pledging, we send you a huge pre-thank you!

It is great to know that art can be created in new and different ways. We are all so excited to reach our goal, but to do so we need your help.

– Xoxo, AMB squad

Can’t wait for the rest of the All Bi Myself episodes to come out? Jump onto their PledgeMe page to pledge your support!

The biggest thing we realised in 2017

There’s a spate of blogs on the highs and lows of 2017. Instead of covering a whole spectrum of what we’ve learned, I’d like to share the biggest realisation I had in the PledgeMe office.

Last year I had a realisation.

While the work we’re doing is supporting greater access to capital, it’s not really democratising access to capital like we had been saying. Equity crowdfunding, as it currently stands, isn’t doing what it’s name states – making things equitable. That’s because the world in which we’re operating, isn’t equitable.

But, everyone can use that platform right? So there’s equality in access? Yep, that is true. Equality is when you treat everyone the same. Equity is when you realise that the social systems we operate in don’t allow everyone to start at the same place, and that you might need different policy settings or support to produce a fair society. It’s when you understand fair is people getting what they need, not everyone getting the same.

Used under a Creative Commons licence. Credit: @communityeyehealth

 

While access to our platform is equal, we aren’t making it equitable.

Most of our founders are of European descent; men founders raise on average more money than our women campaign creators; and while we do have regional campaigns they typically raise less money than campaigns from the main cities (Ocho is definitely an exception to that rule).  I know equity crowdfunding is relating to a different type of equity, but I don’t think it should.

As a group, we are deeply committed to democratising capital. We believe diverse companies and founders support stronger communities. In order to walk our talk around supporting diversity, we knew we had to do more.

I felt this most strongly when I went to speak at the launch of He kai kei aku ringa, the Iwi/Government Māori Economic Development strategy in Rotorua in June. The strategy literally means providing the food you need with your own hands.

For the first time, I opened a presentation with my Pepeha. Something that terrified me sadly more than it should have. Not only did I try to open in Te Reo Māori, I tried to share stories of Māori campaigners. Unfortunately, despite 1,200 successful campaigns, I didn’t have that many examples. And, I ended my talk by stating we needed to do more.

One of the attendees came up to me afterwards, and asked about our crowdlending product. Wouldn’t that be something to look at? Couldn’t we model something similar to the Grameen Bank, but co-create it locally?

And, they were right. We believe our crowdlending platform could be used to democratise capital, if we tweaked it. In fact, it is in some ways, the way things used to be done. Historically, communities funded community assets, and then benefited from the value generated from those assets.

How does microlending actually work overseas?

Internationally, the idea of using microlending as a means to bring people out of poverty really isn’t new. The Grameen Bank, arguably the granddaddy of microlending, started almost half a century ago in Bangladesh. We’ve been fans for a very long time. They have been so successful in their attempt to disrupt the cycle of poverty, their founder Muhammad Yunus received a Nobel Prize for his work in 2006.

The Grameen Bank makes small loans (known as microcredit) to those typically unable to borrow without requiring collateral. The bank originated from a research project to study how to design a credit delivery system to provide banking services to the rural poor – a group that was known as the unbankable.

The founding principle is that loans are better than charity to interrupt poverty: it’s about getting money for self determined solutions rather than someone elses idea of what’s needed. They offer people the opportunity to take initiatives in business or agriculture, which provide income to pay off the debt. The bank is founded on the belief that people have endless potential, and unleashing their creativity, initiative and leadership helps them end poverty.

Grameen offers credit to people formerly underserved in Bangladesh: the poor, women, less educated, and unemployed people. Access to credit is based on reasonable terms, such as the group lending system and weekly-instalment payments, with reasonably long terms of loans, enabling the poor to build on their existing skills to earn better income in each cycle of loans.

Every borrower goes through an education programme around what the loan means for them, and is required to bring five of their community through that process with them. That means, when they start repaying their loan their wider community understands what that means and can support.  This inclusive approach to debt means that borrowing is no longer an individual activity, and the community understands and supports the borrower personally (not just financially).

Peer-to-peer lending isn’t new either. It accounts for over two thirds of the crowdfunding market internationally (yep, more than Kickstarter-styled project crowdfunding and equity crowdfunding combined). And, peer-to-peer lending as a mechanism to support microlending isn’t new either. The likes of Kiva has been a major proponent in bringing international money into developing countries.

Kiva is a non-profit organization that allows people to lend money via the Internet to low-income entrepreneurs and students in over 80 countries. Kiva’s mission is “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.”

Kiva never collects interest on loans and individual Kiva lenders do not receive interest from loans they support on Kiva. Borrowers might pay interest to local field partners, but not to Kiva. Field Partners are nonprofit organizations, microfinance institutions, schools, social enterprises and are responsible for assessing borrowers and providing training, financial literacy and even health services. Partners must be focussed on alleviating poverty and not be charging excessive interest rates.  Kiva has a very high repayment rate (currently 96.9%), and is internationally recognised for the work they do. Here an international community supports the borrowers financially, but not personally.

How could it work here in Aotearoa?

We believe there is a gap in the market: lending money within OECD countries to parts of the population that have been disadvantaged or excluded through structural inequality. We believe a community can support borrowers both personally and financially, creating a circular and supportive economy. We believe with the right tools and approach, communities can be part of the solution to to provide local opportunities, in a way that empowers rather than excludes. We believe this includes:

  • Co-creation – anything that is done should be done with the community, not to the community.
  • A focus on removing structural inequality – we need to name it as the problem it is.
  • Simplicity– people need to be able to understand what they’re getting into.
  • A transparent platform – people need to see what’s happening both for themselves and others.
  • Matched funding – we believe government has a role in matching the funding raised.
  • Education – not just of the entrepreneurs, but of the wider whānau and community. Both in person, and online.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Māori Women Development Inc (MWDI) to create a new way for communities to fund indigenous and regional entrepreneurs. We believe supporting tangata whenua to access new forms of capital using platforms and tools that have worked can create a whole range of new opportunities – some of which we might only scratch the surface on.

Who are MWDI?

Founded in the 80’s out of the Māori Womens Welfare League an organisation dedicated to the health and wellbeing of Wāhine Māori, MWDI provides loans to Māori women and their whānau to help them to start, expand, or restructure businesses.

MWDI have the ability to lend up to $600,000 per annum and also provide a series of programmes to support wāhine Māori including coaching, financial capability and business development programmes that are delivered regionally. They are constrained by how much they can lend, it needs to be between $10,000 – $50,000, and they can only lend money to women that have not been able to access bank loans and can provide security to back up their loan.  

We have partnered with MWDI to ensure enterprises have access to education and support.  We also see the potential in increasing the number of Māori entrepreneurs and enterprises who might choose to use this platform and provide more whānau and community members the opportunity to invest in businesses that are doing good and have the potential to make a significant social and environmental impact.

What are we doing?

We’re co-creating a platform with the wider community.  With MWDI we’re looking at completing research, creating a first version (if that’s what needed), going out to the wider community to share our plans, and then launching our first campaigns.  We’re going to hit go with our research mid January. Here’s our proposed timeline:

  • Jan 2018 – Research
  • Feb 2018 – Co-design Workshop & Prototype
  • March 2018 – Hikoi – through the regions to support 200 early stage entrepreneurs
  • April 2018 – Education ProgrammeDeliver programme (online and in person) to participants and their five whānau.
  • May 2018 – Campaigns Launch

 

Here’s what we think the process for the platform will look like (but, first, we need to test it):


Instead of Crowdlending, we’re planning to call it Whānau Lending, and we will call this platform Tā Koha.

Koha = 1. (noun) gift, present, offering, donation, contribution – especially one maintaining social relationships and has connotations of reciprocity.

The platform will be focussed both on supporting funding within communities, as well as across communities. In the words of one of our friends, we see this as a chance to “redress in a small way the tilted scale, the imbalance between communities”

We need as much input with this as we can get. This could come in the form of:

  1. Signing up to attend one of our workshop sessions – this can either be in person or online to assist our team in the co-creation and co-design of this platform.  We are really interested in your thoughts:
    1. do you think crowdlending/crowdfunding works for Māori?  If yes, why, if not why not and what can we do to improve?
    2. If you wanted to contribute to a campaign – what would motivate you to do this?  As a hapu or Iwi partner – what would make you feel compelled to invest. What return on investment might you expect?
  2. Registering interest to: complete our survey, support campaigners once launched, or launch a campaign
  3. Sending us links to your favourite micro lending / P2P platforms overseas
  4. Reaching out to Barry to share your thoughts, or just tell him, Kaye-Maree and the rest of the team they rock!

Questions? Get in touch with Barry on [email protected] or comment below.

Anna, Kaye-Maree, Barry, Teresa and Linda (the team co-creating this platform)

Needed: A New Nick

One of our longstanding board members, Nick Lewis, retired in December 2017. Here’s our farewell to him, and the launch of our hunt for a new director written by PledgeMe co-founder Anna Guenther.

The fantastic Nick Lewis came into my orbit during my Masters of Entrepreneurship down at the University of Otago. He was a guest lecturer and flew to Dunedin to share his story both in start up world and investment banking. His anecdotes were pretty legendary: from starting his drug testing company in his twenties, through to raising investment on the golf course in 24 hours (even though he didn’t golf).

When we met, PledgeMe hadn’t even been thought up yet, but I was inspired by his words. Fast forward a year, one of my classmates told me I should meet up with Nick. I was in Wellington, he was in Wellington, and we sat down for a coffee on Lambton Quay.

What struck me about Nick then (and now) was his enthusiasm and support. I gave him our numbers there in the Wellington sunshine (embarrassingly low to look back on now) and he was glowing. Early validation, he raved, and things just seemed a bit easier with that external perspective. The hard stuff seemed somehow more achievable when someone as experienced as Nick saw the merit in it.

When we hit our first major hiccup, he took my stressed phone call. I think his calm feedback and great next steps (get a lawyer and communicate with your customers) saved us from closing up PledgeMe before we’d even really begun. From there Nick acted as an advisor, coming to our bi-monthly advisory panels and giving feedback and advice for pizza and beer. When we did our first investment round in 2014, he put his money in and came on our board. Over the past six years he’s been integral in growing PledgeMe, through the good times and the tough.

Last month, Nick retired. He refuses to say “resign” because he thinks that sounds bad. It’s just time for him to do new things with his life, and we’re so thankful for the time and wisdom he’s given us to date. And will give to us in the future (you’re not getting away that easy, Nick!).

But, with his departure we believe it’s time to add some new perspectives and skills to the board, so we’re on the hunt for a new director.

 

Details at a glance

Position: PledgeMe Board Member

Length of term: 1 year with the option to renew annually

Applications open: 16 January 2018

Applications close: Thurs, 8 February 2018

Interviews: 12-13 February 2018

Directors’ Fees: $1,100 per month (paid in shares / cash annually).

 

Interested? Send me your LinkedIn / CV, and a short email about what you would bring to the PledgeMe board by Thurs, 8 February 2018.

 

About the position on our board

We specifically want someone(s) with one or a few of these perspectives / skills:

  • Someone who can provide a solid financial / legal lense to the board, and/or
  • Someone with experience launching (and scaling in Australia) – we’ve been setting up over there with the recent changes to their legislation allowing equity crowdfunding, and/or
  • Someone with experience doing business with iwi – we’re looking at launching a collaborative indigenous microlending platform in 2018.
  • Someone who can help us with our marketing / communications strategy

 

We believe a good director:

  • Acts like a critical friend – kind, but pointing out gaps and helping to guide the way.
  • Has a base proficiency in technology – knows their Google Documents from their Zoom, and is able to attend meetings online if needed.
  • Is ok with dialogue – we need someone to come in who is happy debating like they’re right, but listening like they’re wrong. We’re building a new world order, and it’s not always going to be built the same we previously did business.

 

Our current board includes:

Melanie Templeton (interim Chair)

Melanie is an experienced senior commercial manager and leader, with a track record of leading the development and implementation of successful business strategies both locally and internationally. She’s also an avid organic gardener.

She has done everything from running her own award winning restaurants in Wellington in the mid nineties to being an accredited Business Mentor with BMNZ to launching and running digital banks in NZ, Australia and Poland!

She is also the Commercial Director of fledgling agri-tech company Regen NZ Ltd.  Finally, Mel won the Institute of Director’s Emerging Director Award in 2016.

 

Breccan McLeod Lundy

Breccan has been programming since he was six with a Commodore 64 and has degrees in philosophy and management.  He has an incomparable technical brain combined with human empathy like no other: as the co-founder of Rabid Technologies Breccan supports the development of new products and companies with a belief that partnerships and relationships are more important than simple transactions.

He often breaks out his ability to discuss complex philosophical ideas with the best of them (he did his degree in it – before he turned twenty). He’s also the only board member left in his 20’s…

 

Jessica Venning Bryan

Jessica has spent 15 years advising organisations like Lion, the Electoral Commission, Seafood NZ, Saatchi & Saatchi Global, and the Sustainable Business Council on how to engage customers with projects and brands. From beer to electricity, voting systems to employment, she’s delivered projects in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the UK.

She is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at Flick Electric Co., and was part of Flick’s founding team. She is also the Founder and Trustee of Cultivate Mentoring Lab, a not-for-profit that partners early to mid-career women with experienced mentors to help them grow their confidence and progress equally at work. She lives in Wellington with her partner and four children, and has a special interest in gender equality, justice reform, alternative families and gifted education.

Jessica has decided to leave the Board at the end of the financial year, wanting to find more time to spend with her growing family this year while balancing her other work commitments. If we spot another excellent candidate while looking for Nick’s replacement we may fill Jessica’s role at the same time.

 

and, me, Anna Guenther

Anna is our Managing Director, co-founder and CEO of PledgeMe. She sounds American but she’s definitely a Kiwi. If pushed, she’ll say she’s technically from Dunedin, but will later admit she grew up in Boston. Having roamed around the world, she now calls Wellington home. Anna completed her Masters on crowdfunding and has worked for everyone from NZTE to MIT (and all of the acronyms in between).  She is currently splitting her time between Wellington and Brisbane leading our new efforts in Australia.  Finally, the United Nations recently asked Anna to deliver a speech at their World Export Development Forum in Hungary.

 

How our board rolls

We meet monthly on Zoom and in person. We try to have regular sessions where we are physically present, but it’s not required every month. We have discussions online through Loomio and email. We regularly use Google documents.

The Board has the primary responsibility to oversee the conduct of PledgeMe, the strategy,  and to supervise management (who are responsible for the day-to-day activities). The Board primarily considers the interests of PledgeMe to which its fiduciary duty ultimately resides, and then to its shareholders. It also considers the legitimate interests of other constituents such as employees, suppliers, and customers.

 

Number of board members

We currently have four board members and aim for between 3–5 board members at any time, with a mix of skills, backgrounds, and expertise. A quorum is currently 3 board members. Melanie was deemed our independent director under the NZX rules, but we aim to get one more independent director. Aiming for no less than 40% female representation, with wider general diversity (age, location, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation).

 

Chairperson

The interim chair is currently Melanie Templeton.

 

Term

New directors are appointed at PledgeMe’s AGM or through a resolution passed with the shareholders during the year. Board membership is set to a 1 year term with the ability to renew annually.

 

Directors’ Fees

Set at $1,100 per month paid annually in arrears and paid in a mix of shares but with enough cash to cover tax implications.

 

Board Responsibilities

The Board retains the responsibility for managing its own affairs including the responsibility to:

i) Appoint the Chair of the Board;

ii) Appoint, review and/or replace the Chief Executive Officer

iii) determine the timing and agenda for Board meetings.

iv) annually review the skills and experience represented on the Board in light of rapidly changing business requirements.

v) recommend the criteria and potential candidates who meet the criteria to the Board.

vi) on the recommendation of the Chair, appoint, determine the composition of and set the terms of reference for Board committees;

vii) approve the terms of reference for the CEO and Chair.

viii) implement an appropriate process for assessing the effectiveness of the Board, the Board Chair, committees and directors in fulfilling their responsibilities.

ix) assess the adequacy and form of director compensation and make recommendations to the shareholders to approve the director compensation at the Annual General Meeting.

x) assume responsibility for Company’s governance practices and ensure they meet the needs of the shareholders, employees and customers; and

xi) monitor our compliance with our licensing obligations under the Financial Markets authority.

 

Interested? Send me your LinkedIn / CV, and a short email about what you would bring to the PledgeMe board by Thursday 8 February 2018.

What's Up Wednesday

Making Wildfires with Jenny Mitchell

Jenny Mitchell is a folk-country songwriter hailing from the Deep South. She crowdfunded her first album with PledgeMe when she was just 15! Now, she’s back (just in time for Christmas!), calling on her crowd to help her produce a new album called ‘Wildfires’.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

This is actually the second time I have crowdfunded an album. I was a bit nervous before I launched because I wasn’t sure how people would react. But from the start, my crowd has been really supportive. They understand why I am crowdfunding: making music independently is hard!

My last album has taken me to some amazing places and I’m so grateful for that journey. However, I do feel that I’m now really confident in my musical skin and know the artist I want to be and the music I want to create. I’m so lucky to be working with one of Australia’s best producers and I can promise that I couldn’t be more proud of every word in Wildfires. Hence why I’m so excited to release it!

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

I was only 15 when I released my first album. I didn’t have a plan about what the future might look like at that time. But three years down the track, I’m ready. I have had so many experiences and opportunities in music since releasing my first album. This is an opportunity to show my crowd how much I have learnt about crafting songs and everything that goes with that – the lyrics, the music, and the feelings they evoke.

I’m really passionate about the songs I have created for this album, and the possibility of sharing that passion with my crowd is definitely a driving factor behind this campaign. And the best thing is that I have had so many people jump on board since I launched the campaign. I would love to see my crowd grow even more, as every single pledge goes to funding just half the cost of my album.

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

My favourite reward is the $40 ‘All Access Pass’ that I devised when I was trying to think of rewards that I would want to pledge on. Basically the Pass gives you access to a secret Facebook group where I post exclusive behind the scenes content – like the first draft of my album cover. There is something new each day. It is where I will first release the album track list, videos of my song recordings in the studio, and sneak peeks of what it is like backstage at my gigs. I love this reward because my crowd is invited on my journey of making the music they love to listen to.

When I was planning my campaign, I knew that rewards should be valuable; something I would want to buy. This is the fortunate side effect of being a crowdfunding alum! I have tried to create some exciting rewards for my Gore/Southland-based crowd that include live concerts and tickets to locally held gigs like the NZ Country Music Awards. Other rewards can be sent anywhere in New Zealand, like a gift box where everything is handpicked by me. I’ve tried to make everything personal for my crowd, so please check it out!

Anything you would like to shout out to your crowd?

At the moment I am actually in Ireland. The time difference means that pledges come in while I’m asleep. It is so exciting to wake up to notifications from my awesome crowd! I am so lucky to have a great partner-in-crime, Katie, who has been holding the (campaign) fort while I am away.

As I mentioned, I was feeling nervous before I launched this campaign but every pledge that comes in makes me feel more and more excited. My crowd wants to invest and me and what I have been working on – so definitely want to shout out to everyone who has pledged so far! It has been so interesting to see who has supported me – new friends from my first year of uni who don’t have much money but still want to help me; old time supporters; and total strangers – these people blow my mind!

My final shout-out is to those in my crowd who might not have gotten around to pledging, or know someone who might be interested. My campaign finishes on Sunday and I would love to for us to invest in Wildfires, together.

To treat your ears to some excellent country-folk music, jump onto Jenny’s campaign page here

All we want for Christmas is… a new team member!

** Application close date extended to 21 January – and Wellington-based folk can apply**

This year has been a big one for the PledgeMe team. Our Own Ron smashed our record for the most money raised in a project campaign. We exported our expertise to Australia. And chocolate lovers united to snaffle up $2 million of equity to Own The (OCHO) Factory in 32 hours.

After all that hard (albeit exciting!) work, we reckon we deserve a Christmas present. And this year, all we want for Christmas is someone to help us with our day-to-day admin. In short, a solid administration/reconciliation/verification extraordinaire. Instead of placing our bets on Santa, we are going tried and true; back to you! We would love our crowd to help us find our next team member. We’ve even given them a name: the ‘Admin-ister’.

This is going to be the Christmas present that keeps on giving. Our new Admin-ister will be the one that lets us do more of what we love doing, while doing what they love doing: making our spreadsheets look ship-shape and our banking seem seamless.

Are you interested in working with us? Or do you know someone who could make our Christmas come early? Read the job description below, and then send me an email by Sunday 21 January with:

  • your CV; and
  • a note on what you would bring to the PledgeMe team, and why you want to work with us.

We’ll be setting up interviews for the week commencing 22 January and hope to make an offer by 26 January (though we can wait for the right person). We can be flexible about timing, and interviewing online, as we know most of New Zealand is travelling in January.

Position description:

The Admin-ister

Hours: 16 hours per week (with flexibility to increase hours over busy periods)

Location: Auckland / Wellington (though flexibility to work from home)

Rate: $25 p/h (depending on skills and experience)

Help us help Kiwis fund things they care about! We are looking for a part-timer to join our team as our awesome Admin-ister.

Here’s what we’re looking for in the perfect Admin-ister:

  • Not afraid to be a bit quirky. We occasionally wear onesies to the office (but only on Wednesdays).
  • Attention to detail – passionate about inbox zero (TBH, inbox ten is fine too).
  • Tech able. No, you don’t need to be able to code C#, but you should be able to work your way around embed code and excel spreadsheets.
  • Empathetic. You need to want to help people, and get the best out of every project creator that comes through your inbox / our office.
  • Able to think on your feet (and office chair). Happy to point out things you think could be improved, then leading the charge to fix ‘em.

What this actually means day-to-day:

  • Working a few hours each day a week, with hours likely to increase at the close of successful campaigns.
  • Being available on Wednesday mornings to coincide with our team meeting.
  • Supporting the team by taking on the financial processing workflows.

Some specific responsibilities you will take on include:

  • Reconciling Xero for projects, equity and lending.
  • Leading the reconciling (payments and verifications).
  • Processing credit card payments from successful campaigns.
  • Helping to process investor checks for equity and lending campaigns.
  • Managing the invoices and payments processes, which includes our invoices for services and our client fund account.
  • Suggesting/introducing new ways for us to improve processing and reconciling
  • Answering tech-related enquiries from campaigners / pledgers when able in a timely manner – and forwarding on when help is needed.
  • Owning the beloved general phone 24/7, 365 days a year (and even that sneaky extra February day every few years)! Not really, just weekdays during office hours (though we are looking at setting up an answering service too)

One more thing…

We hold our values pretty close to heart in the office, and they are:

  • Support transparency and trust
  • Be constantly evolving
  • He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
  • Be seriously fun(ding) humans
  • Do good and do well

We want someone to come into the team who resonates with those values, but brings their own perspectives and skill sets. We don’t all need to think or act the same way, but we all need to care about our common mission of helping Kiwis fund the things they care about.

So, keen to join Team PledgeMe? You can email me with your CV and cover note here

What's Up Wednesday

The Dukes of Sandwich

The Dukes of Sandwich first grew legs in Christchurch. While the Dukes’ home is now in Welly, the duo behind the scene – Laura and Rob – have their eyes set on returning to the great (sandwich-hungry) people of Christchurch for the Buskers Festival in January 2018.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

Christchurch has been through some rough times in recent years. We had reason to move to Christchurch for an organic horticulture course but when the earthquakes happened we definitely thought twice. We decided that it would be an exciting transitional time for the city and came anyway. We watched as so much of what was left was taken down around us over the next few years

It was a low time for a lot of people. Yet we started to see new life, ideas and business ventures pop up in the cracks left behind by the quakes. These early start-ups were instigated by people who often had more passion than money, not your typical business owner, who never would have gotten the opportunity in other circumstances.

The Dukes of Sandwich was one of these start-ups. The idea behind Dukes and others like it succeeded because of the love and support of from various organisations, a growing new entrepreneurial community and the population of Christchurch.

This campaign is important because it is a thank you tour to all our friends, supporters, suppliers, and sandwich appreciators in Christchurch who helped make the Dukes of Sandwich what it is today.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

The people of Christchurch kept asking if we would come back and letting us know they miss us. We thought that was pretty sweet but never seriously considered it. After all, it would be a pretty high cost to move it! When we discovered how crowdfunding actually works we realised we could negate the risk of the venture by pre-selling our pretty cool goodies. Suddenly this crazy idea to return to Christchurch didn’t seem so crazy after all – thanks to the support of our crowd.

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

Keep an eye out because we have a couple of new rewards in the works. To let you in on the secret, one is Rob’s “behind the scenes” hot sauce. It’s that sauce in the recycled bottle with no label that you get if you want to add a bit of spice to your sammie!

Anything you would like to shout out to your crowd?

As one of our pledgers commented, “think of it as an investment as opposed to a donation. You don’t just get something for the money you pledge, you get the guarantee that you will actually get that sandwich with all that Dukes goodness.”

We also want to shout out to all the pledgers so far… I believe we can do this! We need you to help spread the word so keep on sharing it around

One final thing: this campaign is not just for the Christchurch folk. Our Welly region supporters have made us so welcome. We would love you to continue that support and pledge on this campaign (and of course the same rewards apply!).

Finally, thanks to everyone who’s had one of our sandwiches – and especially the ones who come back to tell us how they felt about it. That’s really important to us!

To get a taste of what Duke’s is all about, check out their campaign here.

What's Up Wednesday

Unlocking potential with the Kilmarnock Academy

Kilmarnock Enterprises believes in a world that values diversity. It is changing attitudes towards disability through education, employment, and opportunity. It has just launched a campaign that is going full throttle on its social mission of empowering people with disabilities to lead purposeful and dignified lives: the Kilmarnock Academy.

People with an intellectual disability will come out the other side of the Academy with NZQA qualifications, empowering them to find purposeful employment and a valued place in the community. Want to know more? We did too, so read on!

Why do you think this campaign is important?

We know that a lot of people with disabilities are not getting the same opportunities for education and employment as others. A lot of disabled people are leaving school with no option for further education that will suit their style of learning.

Through our campaign, we are opening up the opportunity for us – and our community – to cut to the root of this problem. We take a hands-on practical approach to helping our students develop work readiness and gain NZQA qualifications.

We ran a pilot of this programme and were so blown away by its success that we had to do more. We realised that we have a unique environment that sets us, and our students, up for success. At the start, a lot of our employees felt failed by the education system and didn’t want to get involved. It was amazing and humbling to see those very people go through the programme and come out the other side buzzing.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

We have spent the last three years putting a lot of energy into engaging with our community. This has included working to brand what and who we are in connection with our crowd and gathering support and feedback along the way. We recently built a new Basecamp which in itself happened entirely with the support of our crowd.

We have taken courage from all this support to create an opportunity for our supporters to get involved. We have had so many people telling us they really want to back us. We really value this, but it hasn’t been the right time to take up those offers as we have been focused on using our commercial arm to leverage social impact. Now, the time is right to give our crowd a chance to build something meaningful with us.

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

We have a few awesome rewards! We have flights to Fiji up for grabs. Every single person who pledges over $50 and shares on social media with the tag #kilmarnockacademy goes into the draw to win return flights to Fiji for two.

We also have a ‘Wonderful Wine Lucky Dip’ reward for people who love good, South Island wine. A Black Estate 2014 Pinot Noir, anyone?!

Anything you would like to shout out to your crowd?

We would love you to join us in building up Kilmarnock Academy! We are genuinely making a difference to people’s lives by taking them through an education programme that works for them. By pledging to this campaign you are directly changing someone’s life. You are giving them the opportunity and confidence to lift up their lives in a way that hasn’t been possible before.

Success breeds success, and this is exactly what we have seen in our pilot. We had one lady who was practically ready to run in the opposite direction when we suggested she be part of our second cohort. School had failed her, and she didn’t want to go through a similar experience. We managed to get her onboard. Now, halfway through her NZQA Level One she is already saying she wants to go for Level Two.

So many of these wonderful people have been told all their life they can’t. By pledging, you are showing them that they can.

Show the Kilmarnock community that they can by pledging to the campaign here.

What's Up Wednesday

GoodFor New Zealand

How much plastic do you use when you do your weekly supermarket shop? GoodFor took a deep dive into this wicked problem earlier this year when its founder, James Denton, decided he wasn’t content with merely replacing plastic bags with reuseable bags on his weekly shop. GoodFor is a slick, stylish and super convenient store that replaces any need for plastic packaging with jars, bottles and warm fuzzies. James shares his plans for expanding GoodFor and the movement towards shopping sustainably.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

For us this issue is very black and white. We have an astronomically large plastic waste issue on our hands and it is not slowing down. The way our consumer behaviour is and has been for far too long is completely unsustainable and it is crucial that we start making immediate change. If our company is successful with its plan, it will give consumers around Aotearoa the ability to take action. Even better, it will influence other companies to follow GoodFor’s lead in tackling other aspects of the waste issues we have. We are doing something very necessary and we are trying to do it is as fast as possible because it is already well past its due date. This campaign is going to be a catalyst to creating some big changes in New Zealand over the next five years.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

Our crowd are awesome. They are informed people who are aware of the problems we face. They care about the future of our planet and they want the environment we live in to be beautiful and clean for future generations. GoodFor is inundated with requests to go to places all over New Zealand and we are answering that call, knowing that these people are willing to get behind us.

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

We have just teamed up with Eat My Lunch who have kindly offered some really cool rewards. We are also working on adding a few more interesting rewards to get people excited so keep an eye out! And a GoodFor insight: we are extremely busy with a small team and getting our foundations set for growth is zapping a lot of our time so we are doing the best we can with this campaign to keep people engaged.

Anything you would like to shout out to your crowd?

GoodFor is an environmental ambassador and we will be throwing everything we have as long as we exist into creating real environmentally positive change. We would like our crowd to get excited by the knowledge that our mission won’t stop with nationwide zero waste stores. We will continue to innovate and make living sustainably easier and easier. Getting behind us means getting behind a company with really solid values and great intentions because they are few and far between!

To help GoodFor launch its second store in Parnell (and beyond!), click through to the campaign here

Loans repaid with pride

Auckland social enterprise advocate, Bevin Fitzsimons shares his experience of social lending and the importance of interconnectedness when it comes to impactful lending.

How did an international loan fund make hundreds of loans over twenty-six years with 100% repayment?

Here’s the story….

For six years, I was Director of the Geneva-based Ecumenical Church Loan Fund (ECLOF). It raised money from church donors – initially for schools, hospitals, churches etc. In 1968, it began making economic development loans to communities and social enterprises in thirty-two countries. A local committee of bankers and experienced community developers, in each country, publicised and helped loan applicants plan their projects. Typical projects were: fish farms in Myanmar; tractor purchases in Tanzania; cycle rickshaws in India; wells and plantations in Malaysia. The local committee kept in touch with each borrower.


Soon after approving the fish farm loan in Myanmar, the local committee also approved a loan to a similar community fish farm a short distance up the coast. The interesting thing was that the committee told the second fish farm their loan would begin fifteen months after the first fish farm borrower (and other projects) had repaid a part of their loans. The second fish farm was immediately in touch with the first one. “Can we come and see how you do it? Can we come and help you? Please repay your loan – you’re helping us when you repay”. As a result, the two communities had a good rapport.


With repeated thank-yous from borrower two, borrower one had real pride in helping borrower two by simply repaying their own loan! They were not repaying to an anonymous foreign rich organisation. They repaid to help their neighbours and to feel the pride and helpfulness of this! Borrower two also learned a lot from borrower one before their similar project began. The system also worked well two borrower’s projects were naturally complementary. For instance, when one borrower’s loan was for a tractor and another’s was for an agricultural well.


The Ecumenical Church Loan Fund also had skilled local bankers in each national committee to ensure good planning, so those bankers’ reputations were also at stake should any loans fail. Bankers were always willing to be on the national committee to help their countrymen.

Bevin Fitzsimons

Bevin Fitzsimons now coaches social enterprises and helps them be unique in their marketplace through his company, Breakthrough Strategies. To pick his brain, you can contact him at [email protected].

What's Up Wednesday

Sophie Feels Like Me

If you’re a parent (or was once a kid), then you will know every young child experiences uncomfortable feelings from time to time. Adam Millen crafted a way to teach kids how to name these important-but-tricky feelings with his first crowdfunded book, ‘Jack Feels Big’. Now, Adam is doing it again; this time with new feelings and a new heroine; Sophie.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

I think it is important that kids know the names of their feelings. This book is a tool to help kids learn how to do just that. We use illustrated short stories that kids relate to, either because they have been in a similar situation or simply because they enjoy listening to the story unfold. And I know the kids enjoy them, because I have been busy doing school readings across the country!

The really cool thing about this campaign is that it has been co-created with my crowd. ‘Sophie Feels Like Me’ contains five stories that each focus on a different feeling: embarrassment, humility, grief, empathy and rejection.

These feelings were chosen by the people who have been supporting me since my first book, ‘Jack Feels Big’. I have really enjoyed talking to people about my project and the fact it has been shaped by my crowd makes it feel like a real community effort.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

Crowdfunding is a really exciting tool because it helps to make crazy ideas into a reality. When I reach out to my crowd I am making sure that I am going to produce something that people will actually back.

As well as validating an idea that I might not otherwise pursue, I am giving my crowd the very thing that they want. The way I have written ‘Sophie Feels Like Me’ is the perfect example of this. I could write 20 or even 30 stories for words that I think are important. But in reality, I can only do five. By reaching out to my crowd, I am bringing them into the decision-making process. The result is a perfect fit between what I produce and what my crowd wants.

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

I have a number of school readings across Aotearoa in the next couple of weeks. This is a really fun part of my creative process. The kids’ responses have been really helpful in telling me where I am on track.

As well as visiting schools, I am doing a few public readings at libraries across the North Island. On Monday 20 November I will be at the New Plymouth library at 4.30pm. On Monday 27 December I will be at the Botany Library at 10.30am and on Tuesday 28 December I will be reading at the Epsom Library at 11am. Anyone is welcome so please do come along with your child to have a listen.

Finally, keep an eye on my Facebook page; I have been releasing videos of ‘Jack Feels Big’, which give a great taster of my books. There will be a few more videos released over the coming days.

Anything you would like to shout out to your crowd?

I would love to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me so far. Please do keep sharing my campaign page and tell all your friends about it!

To help Kiwi parents explain tricky feelings to their kids, you can pledge to the campaign page here.