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Developing the social enterprise sector is pretty complex, so you probably have a few questions! Here are some answers we hope will be helpful.




What is The Impact Initiative? +

The Impact Initiative is the online home of the Social Enterprise Sector Development Programme, which is the three year programme commissioned by the Department of Internal Affairs on behalf of the New Zealand Government to help the social enterprise sector to thrive in Aotearoa.

We’ve given this website the name The Impact Initiative because the positive outcomes - or impact - delivered by businesses like social enterprises are at the heart of our developing sector.

What is the purpose of the programme? +

The Social Enterprise Sector Development Programme will help social enterprise in New Zealand reach its potential.

We’ve got some serious social and environmental issues here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Our social issues include poverty, inequality and marginalisation. We also have environmental issues like polluted waterways, inadequate waste management, and challenges presented by climate change.

There are all sorts of people and organisations doing what they can to address these and other issues. Some of these people and organisations are using social enterprise as a mechanism to create positive change.

This programme has been developed to try and support these people and initiatives so that the sector has even more impact in the future.

Through this programme, the Government is addressing the needs in our social enterprise sector, and is looking at how the impact of the sector might align with the Government’s goals.

There are three key goals for the programme;

  • Help create the conditions for a thriving social enterprise sector in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Clarify the impact the sector is having on the Government’s economic, social and environmental goals
  • Identify how the Government can support the sector beyond the life of the programme

Who is involved in the programme? +

The programme is being delivered by the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ākina Foundation and is being supported by the Community Enterprise Network Trust (CENT).

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

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.

Find out more about the programme team and programme governance.

What is the budget and the duration of the programme? +

The Government is investing a total of $5.55 million into the programme. The programme launched in April 2018 and will wrap-up in March 2021.

Programme funding is being used to advance the highest priority development needs of the social enterprise sector as a whole based on research, engagement and consultation in the first year of the programme.

Can I access financial support for my social enterprise through the programme? +

The Social Enterprise Sector Development Programme is focussed on creating the overall conditions for all social enterprises to thrive. This means that the programme is not allocating direct financial support to individual enterprises but focussing on the infrastructure needed for sector success.

However, finance is a key area of focus for the programme. We are looking at ways to reduce financial barriers for social enterprises by addressing challenges caused by legal structures for business like social enterprises. We are also looking at ways to increase the investment readiness of both ventures and investors with the aim of making it easier for enterprises to unlock investment and funding. The programme will also be informing the government’s approach to support for the sector, beyond the life of the programme.

Why are Ākina and the Government working together? +

Ākina have been working in various forms to support social enterprise in Aotearoa since 2008, back then they were called the Hikurangi Foundation. The history and values of Ākina are outlined on the Ākina website.

The Government recognises the significant contribution social enterprises currently make in communities across the country by reinvesting the majority of their profit or expenditure to meet social, cultural or environmental needs.

In 2017, Ākina was selected to become the key strategic partner to the Government in developing the social enterprise sector, as part of an open government procurement process.

In a press release announcing the establishment of the programme with Ākina as the key strategic partner the previous Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Hon Peni Henare, said “Ākina met the criteria of being a thought leader and educator in the sector, with strong connections regionally, nationally and internationally”.

Find out more about the formation of the programme, and the Government’s work in this area on the Department of Internal Affairs website.

Why are Ākina and the Government working together? +

The Community Enterprise Network trust (CENT) represents three community enterprise networks on this project; Environment Hubs Aotearoa, Community Energy Network and the Zero Waste Network.

Between them they have over 100 members operating community or social enterprises throughout the country, generating over $46mil per annum. In particular, CENT members tend to be well represented in regional New Zealand.

Involving community enterprise in the development of the social enterprise sector makes sense given the significant alignment of values shared by self-identified community enterprises and social enterprises, as well as the shared goal of operating for maximum positive impact.

How is the programme defining terms like social enterprise, community enterprise, and Māori enterprise? +

Definitions can be difficult! Although some countries have legal definitions for social enterprise there are currently no official definitions in New Zealand.

Across the sector there are lots of conflicting views about what a definition for social enterprise might be, and whether or not a definition would be useful. Some social enterprises may not identify as one, and some enterprises that do use this terms may or may not fit what others consider to be social enterprise.

As part of the programme we are looking at how we can create a shared language for these developing concepts. Broader terms like ‘purpose driven organisation’ or ‘more than profit’ may be useful, or terms like Pakihi Whai Kaupapa (business that pursues purpose) could be used to talk about Māori enterprise.

We are required to have a ‘working definition’ of social enterprise as part of the certification of enterprises on the Fwd: social procurement marketplace. This is a necessary part of assessing the impact of different businesses and whether or not they’re at the right stage for contracts that may come from Fwd: membership. You can find out more about that process on the Fwd: website.

How is the programme defining terms like social enterprise, community enterprise, and Māori enterprise? +

Our goal is to make it easy for the sector to connect with the programme and share their voice on what would help our sector to thrive. One way we’ve done this by travelling to various areas of NZ and connecting with social enterprises locally in, three ways; geographically, industry and impact.

In the first year of the programme, over 320 people attended 21 ‘Kitchen Table Talks’ around the country from Kaitaia to Dunedin. There were also 13 hui held to explore the needs of Māori in the Māori enterprise space, with over 180 attendees.

Online engagement will continue to be important throughout the programme. In 2018 we received 215 responses to our social enterprise survey, and as of June 2019 we received 281 engagements through online forms on The Impact Initiative website. We’re also continuing to represent the interests of social enterprise at significant industry events.

We encourage anyone with questions to get in touch.

How can I be a part of the social enterprise sector development programme? +

The Social Enterprise Sector Development Programme is a government programme focussed on creating the overall conditions for a thriving social enterprise sector in New Zealand.

Although there’s lots of different sorts of interactions happening with individual enterprises, the programme is not something that groups or individuals can sign-up to. There are however a couple of good ways to keep up with programme news and stories:

  • Sign-up for email updates
  • Read programme reports
  • Submit your story, for a possible case study on The Impact Initiative website
  • Check back regularly on the Impact Initiative website for the latest programme news and updates.
  • Get in touch if you have any questions

For Government agencies and local authorities wanting to participate in the conversation, please contact the programme team direct to discuss further.

How can I find out about the work you’ve done so far? +

Regularly checking out this website, The Impact Initiative, is one of the best ways to stay up to date with the programme. Here you can read programme reports and case studies.

The programme reports in particular include significant research reports alongside regular insights reporting to the Governance Group. Another way to get a sense of what has happened in the first year of the programme, check out this Year One Summary.

You can also sign up for email updates to receive periodic updates right in your inbox. If you have additional questions please get in touch.

What is coming up next for the programme? +

Because of the research and engagement work completed in the first year of the programme, we are able to focus on four key areas in the second year; facilitating access to markets and finance, and growing opportunities for capability development and skill in impact measurement.

There’s more information about specific programme activity and our key areas of focus on the programme details page.