Year Five. What a start!

Kia ora!

It’s been an incredible start to the year – 2015, our fifth year of operation. Our accelerator programme to grow young social entrepreneurs and their ventures, Live the Dream, supported 18 early-stage youth-led ventures across Auckland and Wellington. We ran two programmes (AKL + WGN) at the same time, and have had an incredible community of participants, guest speakers, workshop facilitators, mentors and supporters involved – with a combined audience of about 400 at the final showcase events. It’s been epic.

On Feb 20th at our Wellington ‘Final Showcase’ event for Live the Dream, Youth Minister Nikki Kaye announced $500k investment into our flagship programmes as part of the ‘Youth Enterprise Fund‘. This will enable us to grow both Festival for the Future and Live the Dream to reach and support more young New Zealanders. To put that in perspective, that’s about ten times as much as any previous single chunk of funding we’ve ever had. It’s going to enable big things – watch this space.

Literally the week after, I (Guy) was awarded the 2015 Young New Zealander of the Year Award. The New Zealand Awards are the most prestigious of their kind, and were presented in front of an 700-strong audience at the Langham Hotel in Auckland. To have both the $500k announcement and this award all within the space of a week was unreal. It’s a huge validation for our work, and the community of remarkable people and organisations who have rallied around our vision. To everyone who is part of this community – on behalf of our board of trustees and crew – thank you!

Since the announcements, my schedule has gone from ‘busy’ to ‘intense’. It’s been humbling and exhausting, and I don’t think I’d ever looked forward to having some time to chill out over the easter break quite so much. There have been a few exciting things that have followed. One of which, has been being invited to speak at the Social Enterprise World Forum in Milan in July, sitting on a panel as part of the closing ceremony with world renowned social entrepreneur and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Mohammad Yunus.

I’m also delighted to share that we now have a very clear Strategic Plan for where we want to take things 2015–17. It sets out a very strong intention towards growing a generation of young New Zealanders to change the world. If you’re keen to check it out – here it is. There are some very exciting things on the horizon. Watch this space! Nga mihi nui.