Irecently had the pleasure of attending a presentation from four millennials talking about social enterprises here in Christchurch. The future leaders were excited to share their findings with the baby boomers and gen Xers. After all, in their minds, social enterprise is a relatively new concept, largely driven by their generation.
Those of us with laughter lines and natural ‘highlights’ in our hair openly questioned if it was a new concept, or just the re-labeling of an existing model?
Currently there is no nationally agreed legal definition of what a social enterprise is. The Akina Foundation, the Government-funded entity charged with growing social enterprise, defines them as purpose-driven originations that trade to deliver social and environmental impact. Akina also references that they use commercial methods to be financially self-sustained.
Based on that definition, I’m sure we could all draft a list, including many larger long-established charities, that have developed commercial products to underwrite the social or environmental services they deliver.
Christchurch has been informally recognised as a hotspot for social enterprise since the 2010/11 earthquakes. Last year we hosted the Social Enterprise World Forum because of this.
I have certainly seen an increase in entities popping up that want to make a difference, largely driven by impressive younger talent. However, our own Kilmarnock Enterprises was established in 1958.
I don’t believe social enterprise is a new concept. What we call it is largely immaterial; what is important is the amazing work they do and what can be achieved by taking this approach.