Following a four month co-design period, the Ākina Foundation are kicking off a three-year programme of work to grow the social enterprise sector in New Zealand. As part of this programme, Ākina is launching The Impact Initiative, a platform to engage with the sector.

The programme will be delivered in partnership with the Department of Internal Affairs, working closely with the sector and other government agencies.

Interested parties can view and interact with activities planned within the programme’s four work streams for Year One; Engaging with the social enterprise sector, Developing Capability, Facilitating Access to Finance, and Unlocking Access to Markets.

In the last months, Ākina has spent time collaborating with the Community Enterprise Network Trust (CENT) – representatives of three social enterprise networks; Community Energy Network, Environment Hubs Aotearoa and the Zero Waste Network, to design the thinking and structure behind the programme. The programme activities were developed using these networks to talk to social enterprise practitioners around the country about what would be helpful for them.

“There’s been a huge amount of work to get us to this point,” says CEO of The Ākina Foundation, Louise Aitken.

Since the programme establishment began in January, there have already been significant milestones achieved, including the close of the first round for the Impact Enterprise Fund, at $8m, as well as the launch of the National Advisory Board for Impact Investing NZ last month.

“Now that the programme has officially begun, we will be using The Impact Initiative as a platform for capturing and sharing the voice of the sector.” says Aitken.

From here, the programme will be undertaking face to face meetings around the country to engage with social and community enterprises, to give them the opportunity to have input into the four work streams and proposed activities, and to capture a diverse and deeper understanding of sector needs.

Social enterprises are purpose-driven organisations that trade to deliver social and/or environmental impact. Social enterprises take many forms and span between charities and for-profit enterprise on the business spectrum. They use a business model as a tool to solve social, environmental and economic problems.

To find out more information about the Social Enterprise Sector Development Programme and engage with the programme, visit