Ākina Foundation, New Zealand’s largest social enterprise intermediary, have formally announced that Alex Hannant will be stepping down from his role as Chief Executive after six years in leadership.
Alex will be replaced by former General Manager Louise Aitken, who has overseen the operational management of the Foundation since February 2016. The change will take immediate effect, with Alex Hannant remaining at Ākina until the end of the year to support the transition.
In his role, Alex strived to increase innovation and business capability in the fields of sustainability and social change. Ākina has provided direct support to more that 1500 social enterprises across 15 regions and developed groundbreaking programmes such as Launchpad – New Zealand’s first accelerator for social impact.
Alex has also played a key role in developing New Zealand’s social enterprise ecosystem. This includes building partnerships across the private, community and public sectors, helping to inform the Government’s decision to invest $5.55m in sector development, launching the Impact Investment Report last month with EY and JBWere, and proposing a new legal structure for social enterprise in New Zealand.
The team at Ākina are all very proud of what has been achieved on his watch – culminating in the successful hosting of the Social Enterprise World Forum in September.
“I am proud of what Ākina Foundation (formerly known as Hikurangi Foundation) has achieved over the last six years,” says Hannant. “I came into the role with a belief that the world of social change and sustainable development was changing, and that new models of practice, organisation, and collaboration were both possible and necessary. I wanted to enable more people to innovate and make social enterprise the new normal.”
Anake Goodall, Chair of Ākina’s board, announced the appointment of Louise Aitken as CEO to stakeholders on Tuesday 24 October. “Alex notified the Ākina board of his intentions earlier this year, and we have since conducted a careful process to identify his replacement,” he said. “Louise brings considerable energy and new skills to the role and the Board is looking forward to working with her as Ākina enters the next stage of its journey.”
Prior to joining Ākina in February 2016, Louise was the Programme Manager of Global Sustainability and Social Responsibility at Fonterra. In this role, she lead Fonterra Milk for Schools, New Zealand’s largest Corporate Social Responsibility programme, and KickStart Breakfast, in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development and Sanitarium.
“I’m excited for this new opportunity to lead Ākina and to continue to support the strengthening of the social enterprise sector in New Zealand ,” says Aitken. “After the success of the Social Enterprise World Forum in Christchurch last month, Ākina Foundation will be taking the opportunity to conduct a strategic review in order to ascertain how we can make the biggest impact going forward.”
Louise joins the growing number of women in CE roles in New Zealand, which as of June 2017, sees only one woman lead the top NZX 50 companies.