While communities in Tohoku have turned a devastating earthquake into an opportunity to grow social entrepreneurship, opportunities have likewise opened up for one social enterprise in New Zealand.
Because of damaging earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, approximately 10,000 homes in Christchurch were beyond repair and had to be demolished. This left behind copious amounts of wood waste, prompting Juliet Arnott to set up a social enterprise that would salvage the waste to make furniture and support local communities.
Arnott grew up on a farm where a philosophy of using resources to their fullest capacity was embedded in her. Wood was a prominent resource for cooking, construction, and repairs around the farm.
In 2012, her social enterprise Rekindle gave their first woodworking workshop. The enterprise opens up employment opportunities for young people through skills development. Profits from reconstituted chairs, tables, jewelry, and sculptures go towards further expanding this work.
Over the summer Social Enterprise Startup Weekend took place in Wellington, where a 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck on its opening night. Similar to other Startup Weekend events, teams meet for a 54-hour period in which they develop new business ideas that they will pitch to a group of judges on the final day. But because this event was part of Social Enterprise Week in the country, participants were challenged to build social enterprises.
Stampede, an idea to promote challenges for reducing carbon footprint, came out as the winner of the event. Good Good Wonderful, aiming to make timebanking easy and fun, came in second place. Other ideas include turning waste plastic into high-performance insulation by OllyProp and tailored books for children with reading impairment by Butterfly Books.
“I want all businesses to have a positive social impact, but there is just as much importance to see social ventures display a smart, sustainable business model to ensure they can build and grow on the good work they are doing,” said Startup Weekend facilitator Dave Moskovitz.
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