Far North Social Entrepreneurs Set to Thrive Thanks To New Partnership
Ākina Foundation has joined with the Far North District Council to support local social entrepreneurs on a journey of discovery over four months.
Ākina CEO Alex Hannant said that while Northland was again in the news highlighting geographic disadvantages it faced with the recent release of a Salvation Army report, Mixed Fortunes, early feedback from the workshops was that Northlanders had the answers.
“Social enterprise offers a way to deal to these complex problems we face through a sustainable business model – it’s a hybrid between business and charity – and it’s clear these Thrive participants have some great ideas”, he said.
Thrive is a four-month development programme for individuals with social enterprise ideas. Through the face-to-face workshops and virtual coaching, the participants will learn about social enterprise, how to start one up, and develop leadership and business skills.
Mr Hannant said there were 26 participants selected for the programme. The first two-day workshop was held in Kerikeri in April with the second at the Rawene Town Hall this week (21-22 May). The final workshops would be held in Kaitaia (18-19 June) and Kaeo (23-24 July) with a presentation day on 21 August back in Kerikeri.
“We have purposefully hosted these workshops in different Far North locations to share the pain of travel around. It can feel like an isolated task getting a new venture up and running, especially in a widespread region like the Far North, but we already know this group of people have found allies in each other”, he said.
“Our focus is to help these inspiring individuals strengthen their sense of community and their ideas in relation to what the community needs so they’re ready to make a solid case pitch to potential investors, supporters and community organisers”, Mr Hannant said.
Projects range from addressing food insecurity and strengthening local growers to tackling unemployment among young people to dealing with environmental and waste management issues.
“The people taking part in Ākina’s Thrive all share the same values – they care deeply about their community and wants to make positive and lasting change; they are driven by a social or environmental purpose and want to use business practices to achieve their vision.”
Participants include local business leaders that wish to leverage skills and experience for social purpose businesses, community leaders that want to harness business to achieve positive outcomes for their community and individuals that care about the Far North and want to gain skills to lead the creation of community social enterprise.
Chair of the Far North District Council’s Economic Development Committee Di Maxwell said this approach was more likely to succeed than centrally-led approaches.
“We need initiatives that are sustainable in nature – they are more likely to succeed if they are developed and led from the grass-roots brigade”, she said.