What’s a social enterprise and why are some Kiwis so scared of them?

A social enterprise is an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximise improvements in human and environmental well-being — this may include maximising social impact rather than profits for external shareholders.

I love social enterprises. I tend to care more about companies which have three bottom lines instead of one: people, planet and profit.

The thing about social enterprises is they’re different — this scares a lot of people.

Social enterprises challenge the norm because there is no legal company structure which truly recognises this approach. People and teams literally have to figure out how to maximise their multiple bottom lines in their effort to make New Zealand (and beyond) a better place. Again, this scares people.

We currently have two companies running campaigns doing it differently. These social enterprises are using the two different channels of project and equity crowdfunding to fund the things they care about.

EAT MY LUNCH

What’s the most impressive thing you’ve done in the last three months?

Well Lisa King and Iaan Buchanan, Co-Founders of Eat My Lunch (EML), have served up 50,000 lunches to hungry Aucklanders in the first twelve weeks of opening their kitchen. Seriously, it has all happened out of the kitchen of their own house.

EML is doing things differently. They operate a ‘buy one, give one’ model. So you pay $10 and you get a lunch is delivered to your workplace and they deliver another lunch to a Kiwi kid at a low decile school who may have gone without it.

In their first twelve weeks they’ve fed more than 25,000 kids.

This is a business with purpose beyond pure profit and this confuses some people. I had a conversation with someone last week about EML who told me:

“A company like this shouldn’t be saying they’re a business and do charity work. What they’re doing is profiting off children.”

I don’t quite see it this way. EML are solving two problems:

  1. Many Aucklanders want a healthy lunch option but few pack their own, and
  2. There are many Kiwi kids who go to school without lunch.

Lisa and Iaan are providing people with a healthy option and using that money to do a little bit of good for some of the thousands of children who wouldn’t otherwise eat.

Instead of just doing the bare minimum of making a profit, they’ve decided to also help solve another social problem the country has.

‘Buy one, give one’ has been a successful business model in other shapes and forms globally. Companies can be built, turn profitable and make a difference beyond a financial return for shareholders. People shouldn’t be talked out of doing this, they should be recognised for doing things differently. Doing things better.

eml_hero

OOOOBY

Ooooby (it stands Out Of Our Own BackYards) is a company which has built an online platform to help communities deliver fresh local fruit and vege directly to people’s doorsteps.

The company was founded in 2010 through the realisation and understanding that the world’s globalised food structure was failing us at a local level. Tomatoes from Australia, grapes from Italy, apples from Canada — when much of the food we need is grown and produced locally!

Ooooby have helped deliver more than 70,000 boxes of fresh fruit and vege to more than 5,000 happy customers.

Ooooby’s founders and core team put mission before money when they launched their equity campaign. Ninety percent of company shares of Ooooby Ltd have been transferred to a charitable trust dedicated to helping our local food systems. Investment into Ooooby comes with the caution that any dividends paid must be put towards projects in this spirit.

This is different than any equity crowdfunding offer New Zealand has seen before.

It’s interesting reading the NBR comments about this story, Ooooby’s social and environmental focus was is bound to rub the old fuddie-duddies the wrong way. By the way this article was great and made very evident this offer is not a ‘normal’ investment, so thanks NBR.

Here is a good comment (and of course it’s anonymous):


NBR

What Anonymous User #3 has neglected to understand is that the growers supplying Ooooby receive 50% of the market value (e.g. what it’s sold for) compared to a standard 30% with supermarkets.

Also as outlined in their Information Memorandum they have a very defined plan on how this money will be used.

Spoiler alert: it isn’t on Fijian getaways — it’s on building this business and making greater impact.

Ooooby’s achievements and mission are admirable, alternative, and really challenge New Zealand’s current offering of entities.

Social enterprises, impact investing and this whole new space of people doing, and investing in, things for more than just money lacks understanding with a lot of Kiwis. Whether that changes now or never, PledgeMe is working with awesome people and companies to help them fund the things they care about… because we care too.

Matakana Box

———————— & as of this post:

Eat My Lunch has raised +$45,000 towards a goal of $180,000 in their Project Campaign to help fit out a commercial kitchen to feed more hungry Aucklanders (big and small).

Ooooby has raised +$75,000 towards a minimum of $200,000 and a maximum of $800,000 through their Equity Campaign to help grow their team, enhance their systems and assist in setting up new Ooooby Hubs.

(I originally posted this on PledgeMe’s Blog)

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