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New Zealand School for Social Entrepreneurs Opens

New Zealand School for Social Entrepreneurs Opens

The New Zealand School for Social Entrepreneurs is officially launched in South Auckland today. (Wednesday March 21)

Twelve entrepreneurs involved in an array of social ventures aimed to radically improve lives in their communities have been selected for the first intake of the new action leaning school.

Social entrepreneurs are change agents for communities. They see unmet social needs and develop programmes to meet those needs.

The ventures include turning a community medicinal herb garden into a sustainable business that provides affordable medicines created from local plants; creating a Marae database; connecting families and communities through creative projects; turning disused and sometimes dangerous reserve land into community centres and improving educational and long-term outcomes for at-risk children and youth.

Some of the enterprises are in the start up phase, others have been up and running for more than a decade.

The Executive Director of the Social Entrepreneurs School, Faye Langdon, says despite the diversity of the projects there are some characteristics the students share.

“A social entrepreneur is an individual who shows all the classic traits of entrepreneurship - the drive, passion and resilience," she says. "And the 'social' side is that they are committed to bringing about social change, which often comes from their direct experience."

The participants’ backgrounds, ethnicity and experiences are also diverse.

Student and former New Zealand Army Gunnery Sergeant Thomas de Thierry says the students are a group of dynamic and diverse individuals.

“We all have a passion and drive to find better ways of developing projects within our own communities, eventually becoming sustainable and profitable in so many ways.”

The New Zealand School for Social Entrepreneurs is modelled on similar schools in the United Kingdom and Australia. In the UK 85% of student enterprises are still operating after seven years and each student creates an average three jobs and seven volunteering positions. The first 64 Australian fellows have already collected $4 million in funding, created 79 jobs and 360 volunteering positions.

Experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders will provide mentoring and networks during the nine month course which will also teach skills in areas ranging from governance and marketing to funding and business planning.

The Social Entrepreneurs School has been set up by the New Zealand Centre for Social Innovation in partnership and with support from: CMDHB, Gen-i , Kordia Group, Ruapotaka Marae, Te Puni Kokiri, Te Hana Te O Marama, The Lotteries Commission and Westpac.

The Chair of the Centre for Social Innovation, Dr Monique Faleafa says social entrepreneurs act as change agents for communities and society, developing ideas and new approaches, creating and implementing solutions to social problems that change society for the better.

“All communities, particularly those experiencing significant disadvantage need to have the capacity to find and grow their own solutions to their own social and economic challenges.”

Pauline Kingi Regional Director Te Puni Kōkiri, notes herstaff in the Tāmaki Makaurau regional office have been working hard to support early-stage Māori social entrepreneurs to build sustainable new social enterprises, social businesses and non-profit ventures.

“This school provides a unique opportunity for four Māori social entrepreneurs in the inaugural cohort of 12 students, with these students coming from Te Hana Te O Marama and Ruapotaka Marae.

“History has proven social change is people powered. The school is about supporting these individuals with access to experts, coaching, tutorials, shared study sessions with like minded entrepreneurs as well as developing day to day operating skills so that they can create a robust and enduring contribution.”
• Have an idea/project that has a community or environmental benefit
• Demonstrate passion, drive and commitment to their idea/project
• Have ownership of their idea/project and autonomy of decision-making
• Be able to commit to the 9-month programme 1 day per week
• Contribute $1500 as a school fee over and above awarded scholarship

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