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.
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.