Q + A?

What is the New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship ?

• The New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship is a group of about fifteen outstanding change-makers who are participating in a peer learning community aimed at developing wisdom and effectiveness in creating social innovations. The Fellowship meets on retreat every six months to share aspirations and experiences and to explore the skills of social enterprise.

What is the Social Innovation Investment Group ?

• The Social Innovation Investment Group was brought together in 2006 by Stephen Tindall, founder of The Tindall Foundation. It is a key group of about a dozen grant-makers, philanthropists, and philanthropic representatives who are learning how to more effectively support social entrepreneurship in New Zealand.

The Social Innovation Investment Group’s first major project has been to establish the New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship.

• During 2006, vivian Hutchinson, the Executive Officer of the Social Innovation Investment Group, was commissioned to interview a wide selection of people involved in creating or supporting projects addressing New Zealand’s major social challenges.

After 86 primary interviews, and over 450 recommendations, he drew up a short-list of 25 recommendations for the Fellowship, which he presented to the Social Innovation Investment Group. The Group then invited these people to consider applying for membership of the Fellowship.

• We had five criteria for the Social Entrepreneur search process. We were looking for:

1. outstanding change-makers who are pioneering innovative solutions to our country’s social challenges

2. people in whom making a longer-term investment in their learning would be seen as a very worthwhile investment for New Zealand.

3. people who would be comfortable being seen as role models for social entrepreneurship in New Zealand, and would be prepared to represent social entrepreneurship both in New Zealand and overseas.

4. people who would be prepared to have their innovations and projects analysed and profiled in the promotion of social entrepreneurship.

5. people who would be motivated and prepared to reach out to a new generation of emerging New Zealand social entrepreneurs.

Just how many social entrepreneurs are there in New Zealand ?

• Social entrepreneurs are rare ... but there are many more than we imagined when we started this search process. It was encouraging to see just how much innovative work for systemic social change is happening in this country.

We have chosen fifteen people to start this initial Fellowship ... and will add more people at a later date. But to some extent, the numbers are just scratching the surface of the many people who could equally be qualified to take advantage of this learning experience.

Can I apply to join the Fellowship ?

• No. Membership is by invitation.

Are the Fellows receiving an income from this ?

• No. While many of the Fellow’s projects may be receiving support from different New Zealand philanthropic organisations, the Social Innovation Investment Group itself is only funding the costs of the Fellowship retreats, and its associated learning strategies.

What will the Fellows be actually doing ?

• They have each made a commitment to the peer learning community for three years. This will involve attending the Fellowship retreats held every six months, with the purpose of exploring the skills of social enterprise, and sharing experiences on creating and supporting social innovation. The Fellows are also participating in a learner buddy-system with another member.

Once the Fellowship is more fully established, we will be embarking on our second project ... a gathering for emerging social entrepreneurs.

How are you going to do that ?

• We’re not sure yet. But one of the main purposes of the Social Innovation Investment Group and the Social Entrepreneur Fellowship is to foster and develop the next generation of social entrepreneurs in New Zealand. We’ve got many ideas on how to go about this ... but we are getting the Fellowship established first.

What’s new about all this ?

• While the term “social entrepreneur” may be fairly new, these people have been always with us in New Zealand. We have had a long history of creative leaders who have made a fundamental and practical difference on our major social challenges.

What’s new here is the current explosion of social entrepreneurship on an international level. Much of it is happening in developing countries who are only just starting to build an infrastructure of social services. It is also happening in developed countries that are having to look again at their welfare states that are still not addressing complex social problems.

Bill Drayton, the founder of the Ashoka social entrepreneur network, says that social entrepreneurship is experiencing an expansion which is similar to the rapid expansion of commercial and consumer entrepreneurship which took place after the end of the Second World War.

In our Internet Age, many of the new ideas and examples are being more quickly communicated as “patterns for change” elsewhere in the world. The emergence of formal networks of social entrepreneurs is generating new inspiration and knowledge, creativity and resourcefulness that is having an effect well beyond the boundaries and borders of the original projects or innovations.

The New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship is a way that New Zealand change-makers can learn from and contribute to this international network of inspiration and experience.

Why haven’t I heard of this before ?

• The rise of social entrepreneurship is a story that has largely gone un-noticed in the mainstream media ... although alternative media networks are abuzz with websites, newsletters, blogs and journals which are telling the stories of this expanding international network of social change.

David Bornstein, author of the recently published book “ How to Change the World — Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas” has observed that in the last five years there have been many more social entrepreneur networks emerging in the world, than terrorist networks. The trouble is that the forces of violence get a lot more attention.

What is the role of philanthropy in this explosion of social entrepreneurship ?

• On the international context, it is the new sources of wealth coming into the philanthropic sector which is also bringing in a greater focus on social entrepreneurship. The business leaders who are creating new Foundations — Gates, Schwab, Omidyar and Skoll are examples — are also shaping their philanthropy with the same sense of enterprise that they made their money.

Private philanthropy has a unique capacity to provide “venture capital” for social innovations ... and are able to give a level of support which cannot usually be found in risk-averse government social programmes.

For some years now, leaders in New Zealand’s philanthropic sector have been exploring how to develop their support to social innovations — beyond the framework of their existing grant-making practices. The Social Innovation Investment Group and Social Entrepreneur Fellowship will provide many lessons on how this might be done.

Are Universities getting involved?

Yes. There is a growing awareness that the literacy of social innovation can be taught, affirmed and valued much more than it is at the present time.

There has also been an explosion of academic support for teaching and promoting the skills of social enterprise. Most of the leading universities in America and Europe are now offering social entrepreneurship studies alongside their mainstream business degrees.

Where can I go for more information ?

• Take a look at the “Links and Learning” section on this website.