Launchpad Work

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Team Spotlight: DINE Academy

Dine Academy’s Founder, Sonia Tiatia

Three words to describe Dine Academy? Industry driven bootcamp.

Dine Academy takes teenagers in need of career support and offers them hospitality experience to make them work ready. Their goal is to turn them into employable young people through hands on training, first hand experience and personal mentoring in a demanding work environment; a process that is intensive but effective.

Dine Academy is the brainchild of Sonia Tiatia, an industry professional who came up with the idea after working as the school liaison for an industry training organisation. Her job was to match companies with young apprentices, but she struggled to find teenagers with the preliminary skills and employment history to take on these roles. Concerned with the number of motivated young people unable to find employment, Sonia decided that a programme was needed to transform these teens and make them work ready. She now works in partnership with employers and  with  local high schools to identify young people bursting with potential, help them through a hospitality ‘bootcamp’, and then is a supportive ear for DINE trainees and networks needing new team members, tertiary/career discussions, or apprenticeship and training options.

One of the most impressive things about DINE’s process is the bootcamps typically only last six days through the school holidays, but in that time the participants experience transformative change. From identifying which aspect of hospitality they might be best suited to and getting a better understanding of the work ethic required in the industry, to most importantly developing the confidence to succeed in a role like this. Sonia compares this “employability revamp” to taking a B Grade house and renovating or ‘flipping it’ into an A Grade. In just a couple of weeks. The other most impressive thing about DINE is their success rate of 80-100% of young people offered ongoing paid employment (casual and part time shifts while still at school) after just one week of training.

Young people often find the door closed on them because they don’t have the ‘experience’. Employers are not always willing to take a risk on a new applicant who is unfamiliar with employment expectations and work ethic, so teens fail to access opportunities that would only be available to someone with confidence and commercial experience. But Dine Academy meets young people at the level that they are at, and challenges them beyond their comfort zones until they break through their confidence and cultural barriers that often create cycles of unemployment. By nurturing young people into their first jobs while they are still completing high school,  Dine is helping develop life-long work habits that reduce hardship and the risk of welfare dependency.

Sonia feels that the support of Launchpad Work has enabled her to expand Dine Academy’s impact. With templates on how to articulate the idea to industry partners and how to create a sustainable financial model, the programme has graduated from a voluntary labour of love to an emerging pre-employment training business. Her mentors have given her confidence and access to their networks, with specialised expertise in financial forecasting and commercial branding that has shed light on the value of her business model and values.

Dine Academy initially began as a school funnelled programme, but with an increase in support, it has recently extended its reach to include unemployed young people (not in employment, education or training, NEET). Their goal is to train and support as many young people into employment as possible. Many teens feel like they don’t have options, but Dine is giving them the opportunity to jump into new environments and develop them into confident employable young adults. By providing open training focussed on employment and engagement, Dine is determined to empower young people with hope, motivation and brighter futures.

Team Spotlight: Spectrum Care


Three words to describe Spectrum Care? Growth, support, potential.

Spectrum Care is an all round support provider for children, young people and adults with disabilities. As a part of Launchpad Work, their Business Enterprise team is changing the way they come alongside those struggling to find employment. Instead of facilitating a job destination they have created a two year pathway. At the end of the training programme participants are equipped to enter the mainstream workforce, with work experience placements and ongoing job support.

The project is headed up by a four part team: Sarah studied psychology and worked at youthline before starting a job in service management at Spectrum, Ankush is the onsite team leader and is an integral part of running the programmes, Clare is an outcomes broker with a diverse background in business, and Mareike is the service coordinator, a social worker from Germany who believes each individual deserves the best you can give.

Their pathways programme teaches social skills and interactions that are appropriate in an employment context, running participants through each part of the warehouse process. Each person gains an overview of a variety of work, including assembly work, office skills, delivery and distribution experience.

A lot of people with intellectual disabilities leave school at 21, but can use extra time to mature their softer skills. Spectrum’s two year programme offers time and training for that development to take place. Over these years, they are able to foster relationships with employers, develop competency and encourage social awareness- the first year focusing on learning employment and training, as the second year arranges work experience placements for the participants. After that two years the programme will continue to support participants as they move into mainstream employment.

By coming alongside those with intellectual disabilities and autism they hope to encourage a gradual philosophical change in the way we see support, as well as those who give and receive it. Providing employment that is not a destination but a pathway to growth can change the way we see people with intellectual disabilities and the role they play in society. People with intellectual disabilities are often moved into jobs that do not challenge them in ways that would cause them to grow. Spectrum hopes that by targeting growth they will encourage their participants to upskill and transition into mainstream employment.

This two year employment pathway scheme has been “brewing” for a long time, but the team found Launchpad Work has been the catalyst they needed to turn these ideas into reality. Working in a complex situation without recognising the commercial side of their business, Launchpad has helped them look at each part critically- identifying where they can do the most good and teaching them how to focus on these aspects. Having check ins and regular goals has helped create a structure around for them to grow, with the guidance of venture managers and mentors. They’ve tried to start a pathways programme in the past but have struggled with the capability and capacity to do so, and this time they think the support of Launchpad is the difference.

Traditionally people with disabilities have strict limits but on them based on their capabilities, but the new pathway programme aims to challenge those limits by addressing the adaptive and flexible skills of each individual with the goal to stretch those comfort zones and open a new, wider horizon. Twenty five people with disabilities are currently employed in Spectrum Care’s programmes and we look forward to seeing them grow, along with the Business Enterprise scheme at Spectrum Care.

Team Spotlight: The Village Cafe


Three words to describe The Village Cafe? Healthy Ambitious Food.

Māngere East is a tight-knit community, serviced by a few well-loved fast-food restaurants that monopolise the food options for a few kilometres in every direction. There has been talk for decades about the need for a healthy cafe in the area, and Launchpad Work is extremely lucky to be able to support a team of coffee-loving community advocates who are turning this talk into action: Please meet The Village Cafe, from the Māngere East ACCESS Trust.

The team behind The Village Cafe are Hone Fowler, Belinda Fowler and Maria Hunt, all ambitious Māngere East locals who are committed to disrupting the local food environment in their community. And considering their experience, we think this could be the right team to achieve this. Hone studied community development, with a focus on population health, and is currently the manager of the Māngere East Community Centre. Belinda is the designer of 275 Times, a local newspaper that concentrates on positive stories going on in the area. Maria, who grew up in Māngere East, is a trained chef and the face of the cafe – you’ll see her friendly smile behind the coffee machine, serving delicious Eighthirty coffee, with a menu that is hearty, healthy, tasty and cost-effective.

Their first goal is to create healthy options. When KFC is the most accessible food option for kilometres in every direction, people form habits in response to what’s available. Fast food is cheap and convenient for lower-income neighbourhoods, but The Village Cafe plans to disrupt this unhealthy cycle by providing traditional cost-effective options that are healthy, hearty and delicious. And so far, it’s paying off, with locals coming across the cafe for the first time often telling the team, “Finally! At last something healthy”, while those with food intolerances are relishing the gluten/dairy-free options that are available.

Their second goal is to create a space for local people to hang out, study, chat and meet up. This leads into accessing other opportunities they may not otherwise know about, and builds social cohesion. Necessary things in fostering a healthier, happier, safer community – both mentally and physically.

Their third goal, to foster employment pathways for people, is something they hope to expand as their location becomes more permanent, although already they’ve had the chance to create opportunities for a number of individuals. One of their workers is a young mother, recently moved back to Māngere from Australia. As a solo mum, she found it hard to find employment that fitted around her busy schedule, and felt isolated from the local networks. The Village Cafe has given her an opportunity to put her former barista training into practice and engage with the local community in the process.

And what’s their end goal? Their big dream is to get Māngere recognised as a ‘Blue Zone’ – one of the regions around the world where people live to a ripe old age and have great well-being. Hone, Belinda and Maria would like to create a model that can be replicated in other areas, to transform South Auckland into a well-connected community where healthy food options are the norm – as they were before fast food became pervasive. Maria hopes to eventually launch a similar cafe concept with her father in Samoa, but they know the best way to achieve these goals is to start with the community that they know best.

At the beginning of Launchpad Work, their cafe was still just a dream – albeit one they had put a considerable amount of time and thought into. Now, only a couple of months later, we are really proud to say they have officially launched their first version of the cafe! We say first version because it is currently run out of a mobile trailer, which is proving to be a great way to test and iterate various aspects of the business, especially location! The long term goal is to find a permanent premises, and considering how quickly they got the trailer up and running, we have no doubt they’ll soon tick this off too.

The Village Cafe is causing a stir in Māngere East, and while it may take a while for the community’s attitudes to change – big things begin with a small step. We are thrilled to have them on board with Launchpad Work and support them as they reach these goals. You’ll find them parked in front of the Metro Theatre next to the Māngere East Library, on Thursdays and Fridays and at local events on Saturdays. Stop by and have a chat!

Team Spotlight: YESS

Youth Employment Support Scheme 1

Three words to describe YESS? Connect, collaborate, empower.

The Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) are connecting at risk youth in West Auckland with the support they need to gain employment, save money and access training options. They are a part of the Collective Impact Initiative, a collaborative network of parties tackling the social issues facing the people of West Auckland.

YESS is the brainchild of Janette Searle and Scott Samson. Janette is the entrepreneurial mastermind behind Take My Hands, a venture we saw through Akina’s first Launchpad. With an extensive background in film and TV production, she is now using her diverse skill set to confront social issues locally and abroad, utilising the power of focused collaboration to achieve a common goal. Scott is the Director of the Waitakere Alternative Education Consortium. He has a wealth of experience in working with our most at risk youth and was instrumental in creating the Managed Moves programme, which aims to remove or minimise the barriers to education that vulnerable young people experience.

The programme they have created is focused on the 16-24 year old age bracket that often fall through the cracks. YESS connects a young person with employment, supports them to maintain it, and enables them to go onto further education and training as they develop.  Once in a job and earning a wage, YESS places a portion of their earnings into a saving account, where it is then matched by a financial partner, and matched again (via a discount) from a tertiary/trade training provider – turning $1000 of savings into $3000 of education.

Whilst this might sound like orchestrated genius to most of us, to Janette, it’s just ‘looking at what systems were already in place and how best to leverage them’.

This model is based on the US based organisation, Juma. Juma creates employment pathways for low-income youth in North America, empowering them to “Earn, Learn, and Save”. They also practice ‘match-funding’, where a person is connected with a job and the contents of their savings account are “matched” by a funder, so their earnings double or triple through the process of the programme, and these funds are then used to pay for further training.

Janette is not shy in confessing that YESS was only an idea when she applied for Launchpad Work at the beginning of 2017- an idea she’d put thought into but no action. Since commencing Launchpad Work in May 2017, the team have accelerated to the point where they are about to launch their first pilot programme in October 2017. They’ve gone from idea to executing in just a few months, negotiating with some of New Zealand’s largest organisations (Countdown and McDonalds) to get this off the ground.

And the collaborations don’t stop there. The programme is working with Unitec to create a system of academic support while young people are still working. The plan is to set up a system of buddying and mentoring within the tertiary environment so that when youth are ready to do their diploma they’re already familiar with the tertiary environment. Their end goal is have the system supporting all at risk and vulnerable people in West Auckland, and the model replicated in other communities to support their young people into education.

And how has Launchpad Work helped with YESS’s journey? The Founders say there’s nothing like having someone you’re accountable to to make you do something. YESS found that the structure of Launchpad provided the motivation needed to get from concept to launch so quickly. Their mentors and venture manager shared knowledge that Janette was able to replicate, offering valuable support and encouragement along the way.

As corporates face the growing demands of social responsibility, YESS is giving businesses a chance to become active components of the community, creating pathways for youth to access training and employment. Launchpad Work is excited to travel alongside YESS as it takes off this October, and we look forward to seeing how they continue to utilise the powers of connection and collaboration in the future.

Team Spotlight: WeVisit


Three words to describe WeVisit? People, people, people.

WeVisit believes that everyone, young or old, has something to offer, and this has changed the way they think about aged care.

New Zealand is facing an ageing population; it’s estimated that the number of older people requiring care will double by 2036 while the number of caregivers will come up 26,800 short to meet that need. While this shortage will create unprecedented demand for aged care support, it also creates an unprecedented opportunity for innovation in the industry. And this is where Sam Johnson and Tyler Brummer, the founders of WeVisit, come in.

WeVisit is doing things WITH people, not FOR people.

WeVisit has developed a model of personalised matching which connects young people with elderly in need of assistance. WeVisit enables intergenerational skill sharing, providing opportunities for both old and young to share their experiences with each other. In doing so, youth gain the practical experience and soft skills that are difficult to learn at school, while an aged person gets the help they need around the home. The goal is to create a community of engaged and connected people who are thriving through mutually beneficial relationships.  

WeVisit began operating in Christchurch in 2016 and, as a participant in Launchpad Work, are aiming to continue scaling their business, particularly into the Auckland market, while continuing to develop and iterate their products.

After getting to know Sam & Tyler, it’s no surprise that the business they’ve founded is all about people. Back in 2010 Sam made history as the founder and leader of the ‘Student Volunteer Army’, and was awarded Young New Zealander of the year for his efforts in disaster relief. Through this experience he learned that people will go the extra mile for ‘strangers’ if you give them the excuse to do so, and he sees WeVisit as another opportunity bring out the best in communities.

Tyler on the other hand, moved to New Zealand four years ago to complete his PhD in Ecosystem Ecology. He is much more interested in people than that title may have you believe, and is increasingly amazed at the positive impact simple connections can have. He has found that bringing people together across generations and socio-economic backgrounds can combat a broad range of issues we face today, from lack of education access, through to suicide and mental health. “Unless we fundamentally shift the way we develop these community based relationships to mutually support one another, I don’t know if we’ll make serious progress in health or education.”

One of the unique and great things about WeVisit is the extent they’ve let people drive their business. Not only did they found it to help people, but they’ve also been talking to people consistently throughout their journey to ensure that what they are doing is what people need. And by talking, we don’t just mean light-level customer validation. To ensure they really understood their customers properly, WeVisit have even engaged a social anthropologist.

Social Anthropologists interview, observe and participate in a group in order to understand their perspective. This data is collected and compiled into a written report, a useful way of understanding a community’s needs and measuring a business’ social-impact.

While many start ups struggle to prioritise the time in the early stages to do complex and deep research into their customers, Sam and Tyler have found that ethnography has been invaluable to WeVisit, as it not only identified problems their customers are facing, but also guided the mission of their entire business.

A simple example of a problem this research uncovered centers around the struggle elderly have with technology. Family members often tried to help elderly through this, but this was often quite a frustrating situation for all and it generally wasn’t an effective solution. But having a ‘stranger’ help them with the technology didn’t result in the same frustrations. As Sam says, “we are always a better version of ourselves when we help someone who isn’t immediate family”. So, WeVisit have since created the WeVisit Tech Help, where they match unrelated young people with elderly to teach them how to use their technology.

At a high level, the research has helped them understand the needs of their customers and the community they hope to impact. It has led to the realisation that they are not just creating a service, but creating lasting friendships in people’s lives.

Our philosophy is that we can all benefit from connecting with each other.

Moving ahead, WeVisit are looking forward to a stronger national presence. They believe that fostering these relationships has the potential to change our stories across a number of areas, from aged care to mental health, unemployment and inequality.

Whether developing a business model, engaging in social research, or looking for societal development; WeVisit have found potential in taking the time to listen to one another.


Halfway Update!


Three months in, three months to go. And what a three months it’s been.

As we sprint past the halfway mark of Launchpad Work, it’s been great to look back and see the progress all the ventures have made in the first three months of the programme. Amazing, and perhaps not that surprising when we reflect on how hard the teams have been working.

On top of managing the day to day running of their businesses, participants have been learning about everything from customer validation and business model testing to impact modelling and stakeholder engagement. And through all this, they have still managed to achieve some major milestones along the way. This post is a snapshot of some of these.

  1. Employing more staff: We’re really pleased to say that 50% of the ventures have taken on new employees since starting the programme as they continue to scale their businesses. Congratulations to The Fresh Desk, Dine Academy, Global Action Plan Oceania and WeVisit.
  2. Supporting others into employment: Multiple ventures have supported others into employment through their training programs, some of which have faced major barriers to employment. Congratulations Destination Trades and WeVisit.
  3. Securing major contracts: Thanks to a whole heap of hard work, The Fresh Desk team recently secured their largest cleaning contract yet!
  4. Starting operations: The Mangere East Access Trust team have recently launched their cafe, named ‘The Village Cafe’, where they are selling healthy food to the Mangere East community. Destination Trades have also recently completed their first programme which helps prepare women for a career in trades.
  5. Securing funding: The Dine Academy have recently confirmed major funding which enables them to double the number of programmes they deliver next year.

Did we mention this is only at halfway through the programme? Needless to say we’re really happy with the progress the teams are making so far, and are excited to see what they can achieve in the next three months, and then in the next few years as they continue to help those who face barriers to employment! Keep an eye on this blog for more updates.

Team Spotlight: Global Action Plan Oceania


Three words to describe Global Action Plan Oceania? Waste, bold and growth.

And I don’t mean waste in the typical sense of that word. They certainly aren’t rubbish. I use that word because what others see as waste, GAPO sees as opportunity. So much so that they have created a business out of dealing with other people’s waste. And a very successful one at that.

At their core, GAPO are a community recycling centre, but have also identified a range of other business streams including sustainability consulting, education and recycling services to the Auckland community. One day of the week you may find them on-site at their Devonport Community Recycling Centre, another day out at their Otahuhu shop, another on Waiheke, and then the rest of the week you may struggle to find them as they are around New Zealand consulting to larger organisations on how they can better manage their waste. As a living wage employer, they create opportunities for people who face barriers to employment, improving environmental outcomes by diverting waste from landfill, repurposing waste into value products, and teaching people to “do the right thing” with their rubbish: GAPO’s aim is to transform the waste industry for the good.

This is a bold goal. Luckily backed by a pretty bold team, with a great deal of professional and industry experience. The driving force behind GAPO are Andrew Walters, Jane Walters and Adam Benli. Andrew and Adam met when they both worked together within a local government sustainability team. They both enjoyed the work, managing the sustainability practices for a region, but they both experienced first hand the inevitable inefficiencies of local government, and knew there was a better way to achieve the impact they wanted.

So, they started a business on the side of their day jobs providing waste consultancy services to organisations on their own terms. And when they got their first major contract, both Andrew and Adam resigned from their day jobs and made this business full time. Andrew also managed to convince Jane to leave her day job to help steer the ship, and it’s fair to say since then they’ve seen some pretty phenomenal growth.

When they created their first business plan, their five year goal was to have five permanent employees and be earning a reasonable income. One year later – yes only one year later – they have found themselves with 17 employees, a reasonable income and are cashflow positive. Fair to say they have smashed their goals, and have even more ambitious ones going forward.

What’s even more impressive is the fact that, in hiring these staff, GAPO have committed to hiring those who face barriers to employment, and working with them to help them find rewarding employment. Some of their staff have intellectual disabilities, but with a bit of patience and support, the GAPO team have helped these employees excel at their job, and greatly improved the quality of life of the worker. On top of this GAPO have committed to paying the living wage, a higher salary than the minimum wage, to help their employees maintain a better standard of living.

Growing at this rate is difficult to sustain though. Whilst there is still growing demand in the industry, there comes a point when a business needs prioritise and strengthen the streams of work that have the most impact, in order to consolidate and organise itself to ensure it is stable enough to continue to grow. And this is one of the key reasons GAPO applied for Launchpad Work. With the support of their Venture Manager they are looking to create some order amongst the growth, enabling the founding team to step out of the doing and into a more strategic managerial role, so the company can grow in the right directions going forward, as they build self-sustainable operations that can scale.

We’re really pleased to have GAPO as part of Launchpad Work, and to work with them as they solidify the broad foundations they’ve created in their first year, and further identify exactly where and how they are creating impact. Already they are starting to prioritise business opportunities which create impact that most aligns with GAPO’s purpose, and we look forward to see where this takes the business next.

Team Spotlight: The Fresh Desk


Three words to describe The Fresh Desk? Fresh, hearty, hungry. It’s an infectious combo. So we are extremely happy to have them as participants in Launchpad Work.

Founded by Caroline de Castro and Nicole Oxenbridge, The Fresh Desk is a commercial cleaning company which was started in Wellington three years ago after the founders took a situation many of us have faced before, and did something differently to solve it.

After moving to New Zealand from Australia, the pair began applying for jobs to continue their careers here. However, they pretty quickly discovered that getting a job wasn’t as easy as they expected. In fact, even getting a reply from an application was hard to come by. It didn’t take long before, between them, they had applied for more jobs than they could count, but still hadn’t found suitable employment.

To make ends meet during this time the pair started cleaning at the house they were staying at in exchange for reduced rent. And whilst doing so, the idea dawned on them. There is always something that needs cleaning. And there are a lot of cleaners working in pretty tough conditions. Maybe they could start their own cleaning company, and give up the job seeking game. And maybe, just maybe, they could one day grow big enough to recruit new staff. And when they did, they would be sure to reply to every single applicant they got!

And it was that dream which made them apply for Launchpad Work. Through the program the Fresh Desk are looking to scale their business, especially into the Auckland market.

One of the things which stands out about the Fresh Desk is that this hunger for growth is equally matched with the heart to do good with their business. Because of this, very early on they decided that, on top of creating a successful cleaning company, they want to reduce the poverty rate in New Zealand. This is no simple task as it is a rate that is much higher than most are aware, and is an extremely complicated issue to tackle. While this might put others off, it simply fuelled the Fresh Desk’s motivation to make a difference.  

1 in 4 Kiwi kids, or 270,000, live in poverty. It stifles educational achievement, reduces labour productivity and earnings ability and increases the costs of healthcare and crime. 2016 data from the Dunedin Study found that poverty is the single greatest threat to child wellbeing. Its negative effects endure and escalate across the entire lifespan, and poverty has the single greatest direct impact upon New Zealanders’ health, educational and social outcomes. It’s a pretty big problem. But, the Fresh Desk want to change this.

To do so they have committed to paying their staff the living wage. And they are the first cleaning company in New Zealand to do this. They have also committed to employing those who have been marginalised or discriminated against previously in their employment. Refugees, LGBT, solo parents, anyone who may have struggled with employment because of prejudices held against them. The Fresh Desk is committed to justice in employment, and support them along their journey. It’s certainly not the easiest path for them to take, but with their commitment to their vision of fair employment for all, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Along their journey the team have jumped at the opportunity offered by the Ministry of Social Development to implement a flexi wage subsidy to do this, to help them with some employees. Flexi-wage is a subsidy which MSD grants to employers who commit to hiring employees who require support to gain the required skills for the specific role. Receiving this subsidy enabled the Fresh Desk to employ someone who may have otherwise remained unemployed, and spend the time with them they needed to upskill and help them maintain a rewarding role within their company.

And around all of this, they still manage to get a lot of work done, demonstrated by the seven day a week hustle they’ve shown throughout the program so far. Whether it be doing the cleaning, managing their staff, meeting new clients in Auckland, or even having a go at legal agreements, these two do it all. Which is why we weren’t surprised to hear that only a couple of weeks ago the team landed their biggest cleaning contract yet, and biggest by a considerable margin. If we were betters we’d quite comfortably put money on them landing an even bigger contract before the end of the program.

Over the next few months this team have an ambitious list of goals to achieve, and have already surrounded themselves with extremely strong mentors to guide them on this journey. Whether it be creating a new legal structure, better identifying their customers and how to communicate with them, or better defining the impact they want to make and how they are going to achieve it, these two have a lot of work ahead of them, and are climbing each mountain as if they had been doing it forever.

Work: What’s Working?


With a son who looks Māori and a daughter who looks pakeha, Jody Hamilton was surprised by their radically different experiences growing up. Statistics show that you are three times more likely to be suspended if you are Māori, two times more likely to find yourself NEET and three times more likely to commit suicide. Jody realised that if her son and others like him were to succeed, there needed to be better pathways to employment, and that she could be a part of the solution. Now, eighteen years on, Jody has broad experience in economic and social development with a focus on indigenous and youth employment, and runs a consultancy business that connect communities and companies. “Business can only prosper in communities that prosper.”

This personal reflection formed part of a powerful introduction to Launchpad Work’s second speaker event, titled Work: What’s Working. At this event we gathered the wisdom of three social impact forces – Jody Hamilton, Andrew Nicol and Tania Pouwhare – to discuss the barriers facing New Zealanders in the workforce, and the role of social enterprise in tackling them. Of the many themes emerging throughout the session, some of the strongest were the importance of building careers, future proofing skills in a changing world, and the power of embedding social value into procurement practice.

Building careers is something Andrew Nicol is passionate about, but he is the first to admit that he hasn’t let this be his sole driver. Andrew comes to social enterprise from a business perspective, using strong business cases to address social outcomes. He has already successfully applied this approach as the Managing Director of Agoge, and is now taking it to a new startup social enterprise, coHIRED, which connects people with jobs they love using specialised matching software. He encourages businesses to understand the correlation between valuing their employees and the overall success of their business, as well as the way it can drive the individual employees career.

Going beyond helping someone find the right job, we asked our panel what it takes to turn that job into a career for a person who may need extra support. We know that for people with significant barriers to employment, such as those with drug and alcohol dependency, challenges in the workplace can be enough to deplete their independent support networks very quickly. Tania Pouwhare highlighted research which has found that if a person can stay in a role for 3 months they have a significantly higher chance of staying in employment long-term, and spoke to the role of mentoring in supporting a person to develop their own resilience.  

As an intrapreneur, Tania has been changing the way Auckland Council thinks about their role in addressing social issues – supporting and enabling social innovation with a focus on social procurement in South Auckland.

“In Auckland we’ve been involved in 9 council-family contracts with social objectives. It’s taken five years to get this far. Last year I spent 300 hours trying to convince colleagues to take a strategic social procurement approach. Convince them that instead of funnelling money into addressing social problems in a conventional, piece-meal, grants-based way, if we pulled the procurement lever we can achieve the same positive outcomes through the money we have to spend anyway on the day-to-day core business of local government.”

As councils use their buying power to embed social procurement into the tendering process, new talent pipelines are created with mutually beneficial opportunities. In Europe and the UK 80% of procurement processes have a social component, and there hasn’t been any evidence that social outcomes create more cost for either party. Although still in its infancy, social procurement is starting to grow here in New Zealand, and holds a lot of potential to address social needs. We hope that over time we will see similar rates of social procurement here.

Future proofing of skills was another strong topic of the evening. Faced with the rapid depletion of jobs in the next 20 years as technology continues to develop, the panel discussed the future proofing of skills in a changing world. Tania noted, “resilience – and building resilience – is crucial. There’s a need to focus on problem-solving and innovative thinking – fostering entrepreneurial thinking.” The other speakers agreed that encouraging self-employment, entrepreneurship and creative thinking will equip future generations to face the changing job market, along with introducing technology into training, and building the cognitive and non-cognitive skills that build resilience.

And considering these issues, what role does social enterprise have to play? A very important one. And if you ask any of our panellists, it can be pretty effective at that role. As Jody put it, “you can’t underplay the opportunities that social enterprises create. They’re closer to the ground – they have real, genuine reach into communities and the environment they’re working in.”

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