Getting social; highlights from the Social Enterprise World Forum

Last week, over 1,500 people from more than 45 countries collided in the newly rebuilt heart of Christchurch for a shared purpose: to join in the conversation about social enterprise.

Akina led the bid to host the Social Enterprise World Forum in New Zealand, and (we reckon) did a pretty rad job. Over the three day event we heard from world-leading social entrepreneurs like Jan Owen, we were star struck by MC Suzy Cato and we cheered on memorable soundbites like this one from Brianne West of Ethique:

“I look forward to the day when social enterprise is no longer the minority.”

The overarching theme was “ka koroki te manu” – creating our tomorrow. This was a theme that came through many of the sessions, with speakers and delegates keeping a keen eye on how to build financially sustainable enterprises that also build a more sustainable future.

Other cool elements to the Forum: it was a “Compostable Event” (which basically means the caterers and food trucks used only completely compostable packaging and cutlery); there were 25 tours of 30 local social enterprises across Christchurch; and there was an app which featured an Facebook-esq feed plus a contact list of everyone who attended.

 

Catching up with PledgeMe community

We also bumped into a bunch of PledgeMe alumni. Here are some cool stories of what some of them have been up to since they crowdfunded:

  • Conscious Consumers ran a successful project campaign with us in 2015 to build a “Good Spend Counter”, an app that shares your values with the businesses you shop with. Since then, over 20,000 consumers and 450 retailers have signed up to the app. Conscious Consumers is currently attempting to raise $3 million to go global.
  • Cultivate Christchurch inspires young people to “live lives they value in an urban farm environment”. During the Forum, co-founder Bailey Perryman announced that Cultivate Christchurch will be launching a crowdlending campaign involving the aptly named “Broccoli Bonds” on Thursday 12 October.  
  • The Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust crowdfunded with us in 2013 to put up a wind measurement tower in Blueskin Bay. Since then, BRCT tried to gain consent for their community owned wind project, but were rejected. Manager Scott Willis shares his reflections: “It’s hard to create paradigm change, but we’ve begun the process. We’ve had a setback that has revealed the power of the status quo in New Zealand. What’s next? We’re marshalling forces because the democratisation of energy in NZ is critical if we are to build the climate solutions our world needs.”
  • Ethique is a Christchurch-based social enterprise looking to rid the world of plastic bottles by producing solid hair and beauty products. It launched its second PledgeMe campaign during the Forum, and hit headlines for crowdfunding $500k within two hours of its campaign going live.

 

What next?

Since the Social Enterprise World Forum launched in Scotland ten years ago, it has triggered unprecedented growth in social enterprise for the countries which host it. Clearly, exciting times lie ahead for New Zealand’s social enterprise movement.

Or does it? Although we left Christchurch buzzing, we recognise social enterprise doesn’t happen on its own. In fact, we wrote about the importance of spreading the impact of social enterprises in Aotearoa here. One of the easiest ways to do so is by supporting socially driven alternatives. To see who you might like to support, check out our crowdsourced list of New Zealand social enterprises.

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