The Äkina Foundation and New Zealand Post are launching Fwd: (pronounced "Forward"), a new platform for socially and environmentally minded businesses. Fwd: includes an online marketplace that connects buyers with certified social enterprises.
The initiative is considered New Zealand’s first platform for social procurement - the idea that businesses can generate social and environmental benefits by purchasing the goods and services they need to operate from social enterprises.
Chief Executive of the Äkina Foundation, Louise Aitken, is excited by the changing attitudes that are moving companies away from business models that focus solely on financial return, and also take social and environmental impact into account. She sees the online marketplace as a key tool in driving that change.
"Businesses have the power to deliver social and environmental change simply by choosing to do business with impact-led enterprises" she says.
"Over $560 billion was spent by businesses in Aotearoa last year. If even a small portion of that can be directed to suppliers who work to improve people’s lives or care for our planet - the collective impact is enormous".
Last year New Zealand Post set a public social procurement target to add three social enterprises to their supply chain. They went beyond this, with the addition of five social enterprises and an additional sixth being trialled currently.
This work was recognised at the 2018 EY Procurement Awards, at which New Zealand Post was the supreme winner. The Äkina and New Zealand Post partnership has been named as a finalist at this year's NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards. New Zealand Post developed the fwd: marketplace alongside Äkina, and they are on board as one of the first big businesses on the platform.
"It’s really important to us that who we chose to do business with reflects who we are as a company" says New Zealand Post CEO David Walsh.
"We’re proud to have offered contracts that have resulted in jobs for people with disabilities, diverted waste from landfills, supported fair trade and gender equity, and tackled equity issues in employment," he says.
"Ultimately, we see social enterprise as a way to help Kiwis help themselves, and build resilience within the communities in which New Zealand Post operates."
Fwd: is part-funded by the Social Enterprise Sector Development Programme, which is the partnership between Government and the Äkina Foundation. The goal of the development programme is to enable a flourishing social enterprise sector in New Zealand.
Fwd: is launching with close to 40 certified social enterprises, and another ten lined up to be certified soon. A number of well-known social enterprises like Kilmarnock Enterprises and new ones, such as All Heart NZ are included in the first group of suppliers on the platform.
Dr Sean Barnes, Social Procurement Lead at the Äkina Foundation considers Fwd: as the start of a journey for social procurement in New Zealand.
"Government, New Zealand Post and Äkina are working to lead this conversation, but we know we can’t do it alone" he says.
"We’re putting the challenge out there to other businesses to get involved. Find out more about social enterprises. Take a look at your supply chain; small changes add up to a huge positive impact when we work together"
Dr Barnes recommends that anyone interested in more information could visit www.fwd.org.nz or get in touch with the Äkina Foundation.