New Zealand needs to grow a dynamic market of social enterprises, with access to appropriate capital, says a new report Social Enterprise and Social Finance: A Path to Growth.

Prepared by a strategic group, the report supports social enterprise as an innovative and viable mechanism to drive economic prosperity in New Zealand. The report also proposes actions  for government and other sectors to address a range of barriers for social enterprises and investors.

Social enterprises are organisations that achieve a social purpose and generate income by doing business. “Social enterprise harnesses the talents of entrepreneurs who want to achieve social or environmental goals as well as commercial success” says the group’s co-chair, John McCarthy, Manager of The Tindall Foundation.

“While there are a number of examples in New Zealand at the moment, other countries are reaping a growing number of benefits as a result from investment in social enterprise. For instance, in Scotland, social enterprises now contribute more than 112,000 jobs to the economy while also providing a wide range of services and positive social impacts for communities.”

The report, prepared for the Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Jo Goodhew, says social enterprises have the potential to make a strong contribution to social and environmental outcomes, and to economic development.

Priority actions proposed for government include support for specialised business development services for social enterprises, and collection of core data on social enterprises.

Government participation in an initiative to kick-start the social finance market through a new investment fund, is also proposed.

“The report gives us a common framework which we hope will stimulate initiatives from central and local government, philanthropy, investors, corporates and social enterprises on how to accelerate growth and investment  in this market” said Mr McCarthy.

The strategic group, convened by the Department of Internal Affairs, comprises members from philanthropic and non-government organisations, with academic, iwi and local government representation.

Members of the Group