If you want your business to do more to help people or the planet — or you run a social enterprise — help is at hand. Try these tips, and tap into government support.
Running your own business is a great opportunity to bring your values into your working life. Not only can this benefit the greater good, it can make sense for your bottom line.
Be open about how you’re trying to make a difference. More and more customers choose to spend their money with businesses that share their values.
Likewise, employees want to feel good about going to work. They increasingly look for positions at organisations with a wider purpose. Hiring people who share your values will make for a happier and more productive workplace. It can help you hold onto workers for longer too.
To recognise the important role socially conscious businesses play, the Government has set up the Social Enterprise Sector Development Programme, a partnership between the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ākina Foundation. This programme has already produced New Zealand’s first online social procurement marketplace, and more initiatives are on the way.
Social enterprises typically use a portion of their profits for good causes. But other elements of social enterprise can be added to any business.
Think carefully about which businesses you buy from. Who are they and what do they stand for? By rethinking where you spend your money, you can make an impact.
This could mean businesses that:
Suppliers might include this information on their website or sales material. Or you can join the new social procurement website for business-to-business sales — see Resources available for details.
This is part of business planning. Take time out from your day-to-day tasks to ask yourself big questions:
These websites can help any business keen to be more socially conscious — not just social enterprises.
Fwd:, the social procurement website
This online business-to-business marketplace links buyers to socially conscious suppliers.
You need to join fwd: to be able to buy or sell through the website — and sellers must first be certified as being socially conscious or social enterprises.
The platform to engage with the Social Enterprise Sector Development Programme, which is one year into its three-year time frame.
As well as updates on the programme, it features:
This website has tips and online tools tailored for important business milestones, including starting a social enterprise, growing your business, and how to get funding.
Social enterprise is a way of using business to tackle the big issues we are facing. Issues like homelessness, climate change and income inequality can feel big and unwieldy as individuals, but businesses can make change on a larger scale.
Some businesses are socially conscious. Others go a step further and use the social enterprise model.
For the Ākina Foundation, the government’s partner in developing the social enterprise sector, being a social enterprise means:
Unlike a charity, social enterprises exist to make a profit. Unlike a traditional business, profit is generally reinvested in the area the business is trying to help. “You might say they have the mind of a business and the heart of a charity,” says Louise Aitken of the Ākina Foundation.