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Can we consume our way to a better society?

Today we launch a week-long series of videos and articles which explore the possibilities, challenges and potential of social enterprise in New Zealand. The first episode asks: is a charity also a social enterprise?

The rise of social enterprise in recent years can be seen as an attempt by capitalism to self-medicate – fixing some of the problems it creates by harnessing the power of conscientious consumption and enterprise. The idea of business making profits and a difference is hardly a new one – businesses have worked with higher goals than profit alone for decades and the former was described more than 30 years ago. Yet it’s undeniably an idea which is gripping the world as a product, perhaps, of the paradox of this era: that we seem to have the means to solve any problem we care to name, but not the will.

This week the Social Enterprise World Forum arrives in Christchurch, running from September 27-29. In association with forum sponsor Kiwibank, we’ll be running a series looking at the area from different angles to examine what’s working, the challenges of definition, when social enterprise goes wrong, and how it can work most effectively.

Part of that work will be text-based, but we also ran a conversation, chaired by Simon Wilson, which brought together some of New Zealand’s most prominent and active voices in the area. Highlights from that conversation will run as both text and video throughout the week. The first runs below.

Episode one: Is a charity also a social enterprise?

Some charities are social enterprises, but many social enterprises are not charities. How do they fit together? It’s a question of “mission first”, says Alex Hannant from social enterprise enabling company Ākina Foundation. Lisa King of Eat My Lunch also talks about why her company isn’t a charity, and Michelle Sharp of Kilmarnock Enterprises explains how losing big government contracts was the best thing that happened to her organisation.

The content is brought to you by Kiwibank in association with the Social Enterprise World Forum.

The Social Enterprise World Forum is on September 27-29th in Christchurch.

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