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.

What's Up Wednesday

Darren Watson’s First Ever Acoustic LP Project

Wellington blues artist Darren Watson is a twotime successful campaigner, and one of our favourite alumni. Now he’s back, and this time he’s looking to raise funds for his first-ever acoustic LP. He’s almost halfway there but he still needs your help to get over the line – so we had a chat to him about why you should be supporting the album.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

I’m really excited to be making my sixth album and the campaign is a huge part of making it happen. It’s amazing to have direct contact and support from the people who REALLY enjoy the music I make. With Pledge Me I feel like I am almost making friends with these folks!

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

Well, hahaha I’m a poor musician so frankly the albums probably wouldn’t happen these days without crowdfunding through Pledge Me. Once upon a time we had record companies to front the funding to get these things off the ground but more and more musicians are going straight to the audience. I think it’s fantastic.

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

I can’t say too much or it might ruin the surprises. But rest assured there will be a few nice things happening.

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

Just a whole lot of thanks for all the pledging and sharing you guys are doing! It’s frigging amazing! I’m sure you’re all going to dig this record. I’m in a really good space, playing and singing-wise and the writing is flowing too.

Saffron of Afghanistan

Meet the spice that could spark a social enterprise.

In recent years, saffron has been introduced as a healthy alternative to opium in Afghanistan, and its processing has created jobs for women in the country. Afghanistan-born Tariq Habibyar wants to capitalise on this, and create a factory that will process saffron and sell it, fair trade – thus providing jobs for local women and the disadvantaged in Afghanistan. But to get there, he needs your help – and so we had a chat to him about why you should be pledging.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

  • This is an opportunity to seed fund a project that commits to expand, pay forward, and make an impact in the lives of many who deserve to live better lives.
  • Personally, this project is close to my heart and seeing this successful will give me a sense of satisfaction and I hope it will do the same to my customers as it is intended to do so.
  • It will introduce a positive image of Afghanistan to every home of my new home New Zealand.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

I love the ‘give and receive’ relationship with fellow human beings. I try to undertake any project that connects me to people for a social cause and adds value. The fact that a friend, colleague, or an individual I don’t know invest their time, energy, and money to communicate with me through this, means a world to me. It makes me happy to see we care about each other and about good causes.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign?

I will try to complete the ‘booklet’ for recipes as soon as I can to share with my crowd.

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

Thanks a lot for your contribution to this project. I’d be grateful if you shared this link with your friends and families.

To support Tariq’s project, check out his campaign page now.

Help us crowdsource a list of social enterprises in NZ

We’re making a list. We’re checking it more than twice (on an ongoing and a controlled-by the-crowd basis in fact). The impact we’re aiming for? Visibility for all of the kiwi social enterprises improving New Zealand and the world. And you can add to it here: pldg.me/thesocentlist

Why?

When the Social Enterprise World Forum comes to Christchurch in September, it’ll mark a major milestone for the social enterprise movement here in New Zealand. We think it’s awesome for the industry, but it’s got us thinking. Relying on a big one off global event like that to create massive (but temporary) exposure for Kiwi-grown organisations who care isn’t enough. We need to do more. Social enterprise is about many small steps from many people to collectively solve our big challenges. It’s not just about one-off events, but about every day actions.

Spreading the impact of social enterprises in New Zealand begins with visibility. Those of us that want a better future for New Zealand have the power to support others that dream of a better future – our social entrepreneurs. If we know about the socially-driven alternatives, we can choose to support them. What’s the most important way we can support? By buying their products and using their services. And then, by sharing their stories.

This isn’t the first time that someone has tried to gather a list, and we know it won’t be the last. Past efforts have fallen flat because arguments crop up over what a social enterprise is or because the sole owner of the list runs out of steam. So for the greater good of getting shit done, we’re crowdsourcing a list from folk that know best – people in the space. And, we’re doing it through Google Spreadsheets so anyone can add, edit, and improve the list. We’re also casting the net wide in terms of definition:

any organisation with a focus on positive social or environmental impact, that has a revenue stream that aims to sustain their work.

They might already see themselves as a social enterprise, or they might not. Here’s some of the social enterprises that we know and love:

  • Thought-Wired are a technology company that aims to give a voice to the voiceless. Dmitry and his team have developed nousTM – software that enables people with severe disabilities to communicate by using their brainpower!

  • Make Give Live bring together communities through local knitting groups to create beanies and connect through that shared effort. For every beanie that Make Give Live sells, they give a beanie to a homeless or elderly person in need of warmth.

  • Pomegranate Kitchen are a not-for-profit who provide group catering and individual lunch delivery in Wellington. They provide work, training and a sense of belonging to all of their cooks who come from refugee backgrounds.

  • Ethique prevent plastic packaging from going to landfill and polluting our environment, by making solid beauty bars made from biodegradable ingredients wrapped in compostable packaging.

We believe social enterprise isn’t about succeeding at the expense of others. There’s a spirit of collaboration and collective movement. It’s not about a few powerful controllers or poster children. It’s about shared success. If we solve the problems we see, we all win. So, please help us crowdsource a list of all of the social enterprises in Aotearoa, so that we all can be a part of a better, more socially and environmentally focussed, future.

Check out the list here. Add the names of the social enterprises you want to shine a light on and have a glance through at those that you can start actively supporting. And shoulder tap people in the know for more names or ideas. Kia ora!

The motivations are many

Andrew Schwartz is a law professor from Colorado who’s travelled across the Pacific to research the evolution of equity crowdfunding in New Zealand, and take home some learnings to help progress equity crowdfunding back in the US. We’ve had some great conversations over the last six months.

Equity crowdfunding originated in my homeland, the United States, with the introduction of the JOBS Act in 2013. But, New Zealand quickly jumped out in front, launching its market two years ahead of the US (not to mention three years ahead of Australia). For this reason, I took a leave from my ‘day job’ as a law professor at the University of Colorado and spent six months at the University of Auckland as a Fulbright Scholar so that I could study your mature equity crowdfunding market. One issue I have analysed is the extent to which equity crowdfunding is used by social enterprises – meaning those who seek to achieve non-financial goals as well as an economic return.

A few years ago, I published an article in which I claimed that crowdfunding investors are at least partially motivated by non-financial factors, including political expression, environmental protection and community-building. For instance, supporters of organic farming could invest in an organic farm, or local residents could invest in a café whose presence would enhance their community. Whether these investments pay off financially is not necessarily essential; the point of the investment, at least in part, is to support a cause or a company that one believes in.

At that time, equity crowdfunding in the United States had not yet begun, so my article was purely theoretical. Once I came to New Zealand, however, I was able to test my hypothesis and examine whether this actually happens in practice. If pledgers really care about things other than financial returns, I would expect that a large percentage of successful crowdfunding campaigns are for social enterprises. And this is exactly what I have found.

Based on the data I collected, it appears that social enterprises have taken advantage of the new opportunity presented by equity crowdfunding, and that crowdfunding investors have an affinity for these sorts of businesses. According to my data, approximately one-third of New Zealand equity crowdfunding campaigns, and one-third of successful campaigns, pertain to social enterprises. One example is Ooooby, a technology company whose mission is to put small-scale sustainable farming at the heart of our food system, which raised nearly $300,000 from over 150 investors through their equity campaign. And this one-third does not even include ‘local’ companies without a specific social mission, including ParrotDog Brewery, a craft brewer that can fairly be described as a ‘hometown hero’ in Wellington, which raised $2 million from more than 800 investors in their equity campaign.

These are extraordinary findings, and they were confirmed by interviews I conducted with entrepreneurs, platform operators, lawyers, academics, government officials and others involved in equity crowdfunding. Numerous interviewees agreed that crowdfunding investors have multiple motivations when they invest in a company—and the desire to generate a financial return is just one of them. They agreed that equity crowdfunding investors select whom to support based on social views, emotional motivations, altruism, and to support their community, as well as to hopefully make some money.

In short, the facts on the ground here in New Zealand are consistent with my hypothesis that crowdfunding investors really do have a variety of reasons for participating in this new form of equity market. An important takeaway from these findings is that those who seek to support social and local enterprises should encourage participation in equity crowdfunding.

Have you thought about what motivates you?