It all started in early March 2012. Anna (that’s me) and Alex (that’s this guy) met at a cafe to talk about our journeys as leaders of organisations with a bigger vision that just financial value creation. I was, and I guess still am, the co-founder of PledgeMe, and Alex had recently been appointed CE of the Hikurangi Foundation (now the Ākina Foundation).
Over a coffee, we decided we should hang out more, which turned into an offer of office space, which turned into them turfing us out after two years because they just couldn’t get rid of us (and we’d outgrown the office… and they refused to let us work in the closet).
Ākina has been with us every step of the way. From the earthquakes that shut the office down, to scolding us for the rainbow coloured sprinkles we’d leave on the boardroom table, to literally holding me up when I crowdsurfed at our million dollar party, right through to the launch of PledgeMe.Equity and our first campaign to crowdfund crowdfunding.
Early 2015 we went from a team of one and a half hipster FTE’s (we miss you Jen!) to eight hipsters crammed around two (small) desks. In retrospect, we should have realised that this was probably pushing our luck and, like a well-intentioned parent kicking their child into a pool and yelling “sink or swim, kiddo” they launched us into our new space at the Biz Dojo.
This wasn’t the end of our relationship. In fact, that space has allowed both of us to grow and today we are stoked to announce we’re partnering to help more social enterprises find funding so they can have the impact they want to see in the world.
What does this partnership mean?
This partnership — which we’ve jokingly titled PledgeKina — means social enterprises looking for support and funding will have the powers of PledgeMe and Ākina combined helping them!
Come to us looking for help funding and we’ll hook you into Ākina’s help. Go to Ākina looking for business development help and they’ll hook you into our support if funding is needed. We’ll also work closely together to build social enterprise in New Zealand.
What does it realllllly mean (like, for reals)?
First of all we thought we’d offer a chance to hang out — which will meld Ākinas expertise around what you might need on the business side for your social enterprise, with some info from us around social enterprises crowdfunding well (and how you might do it). And it’s your chance to let us know what you want. What you really really want (zigazigah!). What would help you scale your social impact?
We’ll be in touch to confirm next steps by the end of March once we have a sense of what everyone wants 🙂
Why are we partnering?
Crowdfunding is all about amplifying and deepening the reach of social entrepreneurs. It gets their crowd helping make the impact they want to have on the world, either through project or equity campaigns (and we hope, in the near future, for lending campaigns too) and helps spread the word wider.
Crowdfunding is most powerful when the motivation for supporting a campaign is social, and the benefits for the pledgers are wide ranging, from feel good factor to value exchanges to the potential of a dividend one day.
What is already happening with Social Enterprises which crowdfund?
THEY ARE ROCKING OUT!
It’s not a silver (funding) bullet. The Enterprises all have clear organisational structures, teams, revenue streams, a clear ask, and, of course, a crowd! If you have most of these then it is a powerful tool. Especially when it’s strengthening existing relationships.
We’ve had a bunch of social enterprises crowdfund using our project and equity platforms. Here are a few cool stories from social enterprises that have crowdfunded in the past year:
SaaS food distribution product
A super interesting product that is helping change the way food gets out of our backyards and onto plates. They went out to their crowd looking to find funding to expand. They ended up raising over $284,000 in a neat little offer. What made their campaign different is that they went out saying that all dividends would be paid out with vouchers for local food products, thus ensuring that profits went straight back into the system they were trying to build up and change.
Sorbet (Ethique Limited)
Ethical solid cosmetic and haircare bars
Brianne has already stopped over 50,000 bottles from going to landfill, and raised $200,000 of investment in her equity crowdfunding round in ten days.
Over 70% of her pledgers were current customers, and 3 of them were chemists. So, when she was having trouble doubling the batching of her product she went to them. The problem that she had spent weeks trying to solve was fixed in ten minutes by one of her shareholders.
Not only did this team go out to their crowd, they pulled their crowd in for awesome rewards and support. Smashing their target allowed Conscious Consumers to develop an app that shows how consumers are spending (and rewarding the companies doing things consciously) which we think will have a huge impact on the way we buy things.
Eat My Lunch
This team just wanted to fill some kids tummies so they could learn at school. They decided to create a buy one, gift one model – which means when an individual buys a lunch from them to be delivered, one lunch is gifted to a child in need. They quickly grew, and after two months were making hundreds of lunches a day out of their home kitchen. Eat My Lunch raised over $120,000 so they could move into a commercial kitchen and expand their operations.
What is a social enterprise?
At it’s core, the idea of social enterprise is using the tools of business to make a social impact.
There are a lot of questions around the definition and structure of social enterprises, measuring impact, social washing, and the ability for shareholders to remove the social mission of a company. But at it’s core, it really is as simple as it sounds. We hope one day all enterprises will be social — balancing people and planet with profits.
What is a crowdfunding?
Since you’re on our blog, I’ll take it you know what it means to crowdfund (you go out to your crowd for funding), but here’s what we see as being the four most vital components of good crowdfunding (and crowdfunding for good):
Good campaign — you can tell your idea and story well. You’ve got a clear structure to your organisation, and clear plan, and a clear ask.
Good crew — you’ve got a team that can help build the campaign, and get it out into the world.
Good crowd — you have people that love what you do, and who can either share your campaign or pledge.
Good comms — you’re not scared to get the world out there!
Keen to get involved? Register your interest now!