Building a more resilient financial model – our social enterprise adventures!

It's crazy to think that this little organisation I founded in 2011, Inspiring Stories, is now in it's 7th year of operation. We’ve had an incredible journey, and hit the ground running in 2017 – but certainly not without our challenges!

Last week was huge, with the showcase events for our  Live the Dream programme in three cities – Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. More than 300 people attended in support. There is an incredible community building around this work, it's humbling, and I'm so proud of our young social entrepreneurs – their courage, the progress they’ve made, and the next steps they will take in building their ideas for a better world.

We've developed New Zealand's accelerator programme for young social entrepreneurs from scratch, and it's amazing to see it grow from the seed of an idea to something powerful that is achieving impressive outcomes for young people, and creating positive ripple effects across the country. As well as developing their enterprise capability, participants report increases in their level of ambition, creativity, initiative, leadership, open-mindedness, sense of purpose, and resilience. 

In the context of the major challenges our world is facing right now, there has never been a more urgent need to give young people hope, capability, and support to create the future.

In late 2016 I spoke openly about a big challenge we're facing – I want to be really transparent with you about our current situation, where we want to take Inspiring Stories from here, and to give you an open invitation to be part of the journey moving forwards.

The big challenge is that the funding we received from government to help scale our Festival and our Live the Dream programmes is unlikely to roll over. It's enabled us to grow the Festival – doubling in size last year to nearly 1,000 attendees, and expand Live the Dream to three cities over two consecutive summers. Without MYD support, this means a $200k gap in our budget for the year ahead. It's a big challenge, or a big opportunity.

Whilst we're legally a charity – and grants, donations and sponsorship are hugely helpful to fuel our work, being dependent on these leave us in a vulnerable position. We need to build a more resilient financial model. We started by asking the question – "what assets and strengths do we have, and where do we see an opportunity to use these that could meet a real market need and generate new revenue for the Trust?" These questions gave us a starting point, from there we brainstormed ideas, and now we're working to develop and test three new social enterprise ventures, with 100% of the profit going towards supporting our programmes. If successful, these will help to fund our work, and propel young New Zealanders into the future. These ventures are: 

From humble beginnings in 2011, we’ve built one of the most awesome youth development organisations in New Zealand, with an impressive track record of programmes and partnerships. We’ve worked with more than 6,000 young New Zealanders – the courage and imagination they bring, and the projects and ventures they're working on are incredibly inspiring. On our new website you can now see a range of the stories of these inspiring young New Zealanders.

Whilst we've got a $200k resourcing challenge right now, we've got a strong foundation to build on. I’m particularly excited about the opportunities ahead, including a number of partnership conversations we're having that have the potential to be absolutely game-changing. Imagine if every young New Zealander unleashed their potential to change the world. As crazy as that can sound, I truly believe there is no other country better positioned to unleash the potential of an entire generation. Imagine. Now – let's make it happen!