We have ambitious aims for Launchpad Work. First and foremost, we want to support the 8 amazing social enterprises going on this six month journey with us to accelerate their growth and maximise their positive impact. Following closely behind that is a desire to shine a spotlight on social enterprise and the impact it can have, contributing to a conversation that is only just starting here in New Zealand.

Conveniently for us, these two goals complement each other nicely. A crucial part of any organisation’s growth is growing awareness of that organisation, the sector it is in, and why it needs to be there. Launchpad Work’s three part public speaker series brings together some of New Zealand’s leaders in the social enterprise space to share their insights and experiences with both the participants of the program and the general public who attend.

‘Social Enterprise Disruption:’ the first speaker event, catalysed a conversation around social enterprise, its potential, and some of the awesome enterprises who are creating significant impact here in New Zealand. Vic Crone, CEO of Callaghan Innovation and Chair of Figure.NZ (a kiwi social enterprise which helps people understand data) observed that the potential of social enterprise is something that people across government and business in this country are now waking up to:

“Social enterprise is unique because it understands community in a way other sectors cannot. There is increasing understanding of what social enterprise can achieve; the wider outcomes and their impact, and the fact that social enterprise is here only to deliver community outcomes.

Before challenging us to do what it takes to move the sector forward:

“…it’s important for social enterprise and government, in particular, to come together, and to foster an environment in New Zealand that supports social enterprise. With currently over $17bn social investment globally – and a predicted one trillion over the next decade – we need to be thinking about how we tap into that global investment, because even just a small percentage of that could mean amazing things for New Zealand.”

Ākina’s very own CEO, Alex Hannant, then took the stage to outline how Ākina is working to build a system of support around social enterprises in New Zealand, with the Launchpad Work programme being one example of Ākina’s work in this space.

“It takes a village to raise a social enterprise. Launchpad Work provides an environment where social ventures can get support to connect to new partnerships and tap into new funding and trading opportunities.”

Levi Armstrong spoke passionately about his experience as a social entrepreneur. A participant in the first Launchpad programme with his venture, Patu Aotearoa: a gym for Māori focused on improving health and wellbeing. Patu’s aim is to create achievable, affordable and accessible exercise programmes for anyone, to help address the obesity epidemic he was seeing amongst his people.

“We are the third fattest country in the OECD. We believe we are fighting a war, and we want to fight it together. We’re about bringing people together and exercise is a benefit that comes out of that. Our aim at the beginning of our time with LaunchPad was to take Patu national, and we’ve achieved that. We’ve created a movement, spreading our ‘gang’ across Aotearoa to create positive change, and social enterprise was the only way I could see to achieve what we’ve done.”

Having opened 12 Patu Aotearoa franchises around New Zealand, it’s fair to say Levi and his team are well on their way to achieving their aims, and they attribute part of this success to the social enterprise model they’ve chosen to adopt.

The audience then had the opportunity to ask our speakers questions, followed by some networking time. Going by the fact that there were still people in the room talking an hour after we had planned to finish the event, it’s safe to say the event definitely turned up the volume on the conversation around social enterprise, and we hope this will only get louder at future events and more broadly throughout New Zealand.

If you’d like to attend the next Launchpad Work speaker event, please click here for more information.