Today Warren and I were proud to attend the launch of the latest Envision report - Enterprising Auckland: A social enterprise approach to local economic development. The report aims to support the work of Auckland's Local Boards and their efforts to stimulate social enterprise within their communities through providing another approach to add to their tool bags. 

Our thanks go to Billy Matheson from Auckland Council for commissioning the report and endless patience as we thrashed out various ideas and proceeded down some dead ends. We are also grateful to Bevin Fitzsimons from Breakthrough Strategies and Jamie Newth from Soul Capital for their support and input.

You can view or download the full report here, but in the meantime here's the Executive Summary to wet your appetite...

The potential for social enterprise to address some of New Zealand’s pressing social issues has long been understood, and there are an increasing number of fledgling social enterprises enthusiastic about contributing to this mission. However there also appears to be a ‘missing middle’ - the gap in funding and support that would allow the field to grow sufficiently to make significant inroads into solving some of the social problems we face nationally and locally. Additionally there seems to be no clear plan for getting around this gap.

The Community and Cultural Strategy Unit of Auckland Council commissioned this discussion document to address the missing middle and provide a model for Local Boards to foster social enterprise in their communities. The model proposed in this document is intended to compliment, and add to, the tools Local Boards already have available for advancing social enterprise in their communities rather than replace or superceed those methods.

The aim of the model is to stimulate innovative local solutions that will help build strong resilient local economies. It involves Auckland’s Local Boards taking a leadership role in identifying opportunities for social enterprise within their community. These may include providing goods and services to Council through social enterprises tendering for Council contracts, or maximising the social value of Council assets such as land and buildings through their use by social businesses.

The model proposed in this document is based on the following six steps:

1.     Identification of clear commercial opportunities that support the Local Board’s Plan

2.     Identification of an organisation, or collaboration of organisations, that could successfully exploit the opportunity while maximising social benefit

3.     Encouraging the creation of a purpose-built social enterprise that can realise that opportunity on behalf of the local community

4.     Supporting the resulting entity with seed, match or innovation funding

5.     Advocating for Council’s various business units to use a social procurement approach, opening the door for social enterprises to access Council contracts (procuring goods and services) and Council assets (land or buildings)

6.     Maintaining a watching brief and providing governance support as appropriate

The model involves actively brokering relationships, advocating for opportunities, and encouraging a competitive tender process that incorporates social or community outcomes. This brokering function can be undertaken by Local Boards themselves, by a skilled volunteer, or carried out by a professional agency.

The model was partly inspired by social enterprises that have established businesses in the waste sector in New Zealand. These groups have successfully set up a network of community recycling centres utilising a social enterprise model to divert waste, generate employment, and contribute to local economic development.

Learnings and experiences from this sector provided an initial framework for thinking about how to translate this success into other areas.

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