There’s a first time for everything.
Last night, as we hosted our first networking event ‘Good Story,’ we witnessed the beginning of what’s becoming a vibrant conversation around valuing Environment, Community and Innovation in the Social Value space within New Zealand. We were lucky to have two unique perspectives, with Dawn Baggaley, sustainability manager with the NZ Post Group and the SROI measured Bikes in Schools initiative, and Julia Jackson from the Sustainable business network.
Dawn is a pioneer of SROI in New Zealand and a highly experienced sustainability consultant with 10 years’ experience as sustainability manager for the New Zealand Post Group and 10 years’ experience working in the NFP sector in NZ, UK, and Denmark.
Working in Denmark she was first introduced to the SROI model. This led her to spend three years working pro-bono to develop and measure the wildly successful initiative, Bikes in Schools. She saw schools all over the country provided with a fleet of bikes and training for their pupils; and was able to measure and report the remarkable benefits of kids being more engaged in classrooms, and more confident and healthy from having regular access to bikes at school.
“It may not have been a perfect SROI but it was a beginning.” Dawn spoke of the challenges of undertaking an SROI study, largely having to figure it out along the way, identifying what was working well and, “Where did I feel comfortable attributing value?” Dawn was mentored by Social Ventures Australia’s Simon Faivel. To have an open dialogue with somebody as knowledgeable and experienced as Simon was invaluable to her developing her practice. As she now works with NZ Post and the London Benchmarking Group to start reporting and measuring ways that they can connect and involve the people in the communities they serve from a corporate perspective.
Her words of advice to our attendees: if you want to undertake an SROI, rather than try to tackle it in small chunks, “Just go for it.”
“New Zealand can be a model sustainable nation for the world,” Julia Jackson declared, joining us last night as the Community / National Network Coordinator at SBN. Julia’s journey began as a young graduate on her OE in a Mayan community where she first saw the real benefits of involving and nurturing a community’s commitment to bounce back and respond to an environmental disaster. This sparked a fire in her belly to work with communities in New Zealand to educate and change minds about business practice and how we can bridge the gap between business and community. She saw that business can be a positive influence on the community and she talked about finding practical solutions to environmental issues – leading projects that help a business to reuse or repurpose materials and finding ways to keep resources in circular use.
With Social Value being such a new conversation, we’ve all got our own Social Value goals, after her presentation Julia set up a mini workshop where we could talk about them, find common ground and gain new understanding. This led to a lively conversation about doing business from the ground up, rather than filtering down to stakeholders. The difficulty of this change in thinking, was outweighed by the immense benefits when you actually are able to get through it: developing a closer relationship with stakeholders and ultimately a stronger business model. As a network we are excited to be connecting with like-minded organisations where we can put our heads together and collaborate rather than compete: “It’s great to be on this journey together, there’s so much we can collectively learn,” Julia concluded.
We’ve hit the ground running and it’s all go at Social Value Aotearoa! Our Project Co-ordinator Jo Nicholson joined in on the discussion at Te Pou Matakana’s event, Sharing Ideas and Experience, attending workshops on outcomes reporting frameworks and collective impact. As we gear up to represent NZ at the annual Social Value International conference it was inspiring to share our stories from a New Zealand perspective: what’s happening, what are our concerns and who is involved. We look forward to sharing these and learning new perspectives on an international stage. We’ll be live tweeting and blogging from the epicentre at Critical Mass. Keep in touch, and watch this space!