Wednesday 19th February. A beautiful summer evening in Wellington and Mac’s cable room on the waterfront is packed with 200 people, all there to listen to the final showcase of NZ’s first Social Enterprise Accelerator programme.
All 7 teams delivered fantastic pitches – true and worthy reflections of the blood, sweat and fire they have poured into their ventures all summer long.
The blank stares and uncertainty from day 1, distant memories. The nerves of not being able to pitch without notes, a killer 5 weeks ago, also long forgotten. Replaced on the stage with strong confidence and ownership, they all presented like established founders running credible ventures. And so they should.
We designed Live the Dream with clear goals – to radically upskill and grow the capacity of New Zealand’s next generation of social entrepreneurs and help them launch their ventures. The final event showed us not just that the teams learned to pitch, but they learned to build a business, grew in confidence, created networks and partnerships and, most importantly learned fundamental processes and techniques that will hold them in good stead – not just for their current projects, but the next ones, and the next ones, and the next ones after that.
Pitches aside, a significant highlight of the final event was the diversity of the crowd – a room full of people from large corporate businesses, SME’s and consultancies, local government, NGOs and the vibrant startup community. All of these people – excited, inspired, business cards flying and new connections being made.
The community in Wellington has been so responsive, so supportive of Live the Dream; it seems everyone genuinely wants to see more of this type of thing happen – and quite genuinely, we need it. The more people upskilled to use entrepreneurship to tackle the big social and environmental problems in front of us, the better off we all are.
Social Enterprise, the 4th sector, allows us to break the rules. It is a call to arms, a completely inclusive exercise in wide collaboration, and can be actively supported by everyone: From multinational corporations, to local governments to small non-profit charitable trusts. When designing businesses towards positive impact there is a part for everyone to play.
And the game has started.
A massive thanks to the partners and contributors to the programme to help us kick this off. If we keep raising the bar for partners, for mentors, for contributors and for founders and their ventures – I’m sure that as a community, we’ll rise to the challenge.
So let’s do it, let’s keep the momentum going, let’s keep pushing. Let’s rise to the challenge and make New Zealand a world leader in launching and supporting impactful, viable social enterprises.