Wānaka Sun       

Social enterprise for local start ups

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 03 Oct, 2019 | By Abby Costen newdesk@thewanakasun.co.nz

Last week at Urban Grind espresso restaurant bar in Wānaka, more than two dozen entrepreneurs and socially minded community members gathered to learn about social enterprise—business models that serve a purpose beyond profit. 

The event was part of the monthly entrepreneur coffee jam series organised by Startup Queenstown Lakes.

The discussion featured advice and expertise from Sophie Ward of Wastebusters and Barry Grehan of Urban Village.

"Social enterprise is on everyone's lips right now," said discussion moderator Richard Liew, publisher of NZ Entrepreneur Magazine. "We are becoming more and more aware that when you decide to go into business, there are other motives besides profit and world domination.”

Akina Foundation, one of New Zealand's leading entities on social enterprise, defined the concept as, "Social enterprises use business models as a tool to help solve social, cultural and environmental issues. They are often profit-making businesses, but they invest the majority of their profit and expenditure in positive outcomes—their impact.”

"We use our business to achieve our mission of getting to zero waste in our community," said Ward. "All of our decisions are not about making more money, but will the action help us better achieve that mission."

Locally, there is a strong interest in creating businesses that impact society and the environment. "We have seen a very strong representation of entrepreneurs in our workshops and programmes who are motivated by making an impact in Wānaka," said James Burnes, CEO of Startup Queenstown Lakes. "There is a strong sense of community-first here, and we'd like to help those locally who want to make an impact do so.”

Burnes announced at the event that 'Business with Purpose: a social enterprise initiative for Wānaka' to be run by Startup Queenstown Lakes with support from Wastebusters, Urban Village, and Akina Foundation. "Over the next six months, starting with today's conversation, we'll be hosting several workshops and programmes with a social enterprise focus. Our goal will be to help those who want to create a sustainable business model also achieve an impact."

"Creating business solely for profit is becoming increasingly old-fashioned," said Liew. "Many founders are looking to achieve the triple bottom line: good for shareholders, good for customers, and good for society and the environment. This is as good a place as any to do it.”

Businesses such as Wastebusters and Urban Village are starting the movement—without government funding or support. "I love the way we can combine business with purpose to make an impact. We've stood entirely on our own since the beginning," said Ward.

Upcoming Startup Queenstown Lakes events include ‘Business model canvas: social enterprise edition' at Wānaka Recreation Centre on October 15 and ‘Business with purpose: an intro to social enterprise' at Lake Wānaka Centre on November 26.

Find out more at startupqueenstownlakes.com/social-enterprise/.

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