About the


Find out more about the Social Enterprise Sector Development Programme, and what we’re working to achieve.


Programme Overview

The Social Enterprise Sector Development Programme is a three-year partnership between the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ākina Foundation, with support from the Community Enterprise Network Trust (CENT).

The programme recognises that New Zealand faces significant social and environmental challenges. Social enterprises are purpose-driven organisations that can help make positive change by contributing to the wellbeing of our people and our natural environment. (Read more about what social enterprise is in the FAQs.)

The programme launched in April of 2018 and will wrap-up in March of 2021.

The Social Enterprise Sector Development Programme has three priorities:

  • Helping to create the conditions for a thriving social enterprise sector in Aotearoa New Zealand;

  • Making it clear how social enterprise is contributing to government’s economic, social and environmental goals;

  • Working with the Government to articulate what it needs to do to support the sector, during and after the programme


Areas of Focus

With a fixed timeframe and budget, the programme is focussed on making progress in four key areas. We believe these areas of focus will lay the groundwork for meaningful change for social enterprises in New Zealand, with the ultimate goal of creating the overall conditions for a thriving sector.


Capability Building

Learning from and continuing to develop the capability of social enterprises following on from year one research, and the regional hubs pilot.


We want to make it easier for individuals and enterprises to access social enterprise development support. Our pilot programme of social enterprise hubs is testing the conditions for a more self-organised and a better-connected social enterprise ecosystem. 

The pilot programme takes a ‘train the trainer’ approach where our team works closely with regional ‘hubs champions’ from organisations who are embedded in those communities such as Thrive Whanganui and Te Tihi Manawatu. The goal of the pilot is to increase the champions’ capability and confidence to deliver direct support to social enterprises within their region. The pilot programme is focussed on:

  • Increasing visibility and accessibility of support for social entrepreneurs across NZ

  • Offering relevant and meaningful business support tools and programmes

  • Building the networks needed for a stronger, more connected ecosystem

The findings from the pilot programme will inform how we build capability in social enterprises from September 2019 onwards.



Demonstrating to Government the impact social enterprises are working towards and how that impact aligns with the Government’s goals.

Our work so far has highlighted the importance of enabling social enterprises to measure and articulate their impact – which is the positive social, environmental or cultural outcomes they exist to create. We want to make it easier for social enterprises to understand, communicate and increase their impact by:

  • Supporting social enterprises to understand, measure, manage, communicate and increase their impact.

  • Gathering insights on the impact social enterprises are working towards.

  • Mapping the impact social enterprises are having in three priority areas to demonstrate how they are contributing to the Government’s goals.

We’re working to give social enterprises and government greater clarity around what impact the social enterprise sector is having and how that impact aligns with Government’s goals.


Finance and Legal

Reducing barriers to growth created by legal structures, so more enterprises can unlock funds. Building the impact investment movement.

Investment is essential to the growth of many social enterprises and their ability to deliver impact. Currently, it is difficult for social enterprises to access capital due to issues around investment readiness, the alignment of available capital, and other barriers such as legal structures for businesses. We’re making it easier for social enterprises to access finance by:

  • Building the investment readiness of social enterprises and impact investors

  • Creating a more enabling legislative environment for social enterprise 

  • Increasing the amount of impact funds available in New Zealand

We’re working towards the creation of a more enabling environment where more social enterprises can access capital, deliver their impact and scale.


Social Procurement

Working to grow the depth and breadth of procurement opportunities available to social enterprises. 

We’ve identified social procurement as a key strategic lever to help accelerate the growth of New Zealand’s social enterprise sector.  As more buyers become interested in social procurement, they seek suppliers to meet their needs. We’re working to grow the depth and breadth of opportunities to deliver to large contracts available to social enterprises by:

  • Growing the diversity of products and services available on the social procurement marketplace fwd: 

  • Recruiting more buyers for fwd: from across the public and private sectors

  • Supporting Government to understand the opportunities in social procurement

Though there is no formal legal definition for social enterprise in New Zealand, we’ve needed to use a ‘working definition’ to inform the certification of social enterprises for the fwd: platform. For more information about the certification process, visit the Fwd: website.

Who is involved?

Our small programme team consists of both Ākina Foundation staff members and members of teams at the Department of Internal Affairs.

Additional advice and support is provided from across the social enterprise sector by the Sector Working Group, and across government by the Cross-Agency Advisory Group.

The Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Hon Poto Williams, is the Government Minister responsible for the programme. For more detailed information about the programme, have a look at the Programme Team or Programme FAQs.

Want to know more? Find out what we’re doing…