New Zealand’s Wellington: an example of a partner state / enterpreneurial state approach

The City Council is starting to modestly support a social enterpreneurship ecology.

Excerpted from JAZIAL CROSSLEY:

“Business collective and incubator for entrepreneurs with a social conscience Enspiral has caught the attention of Wellington City Council, earning it a $5000 grant from public funding.

The democratically run hub for startups that want to create social change has helped several businesses become successful.

It was founded by Ruby on Rails and PHP web programmer Joshua Vial in March 2010 as a consulting company when he moved to Wellington from Christchurch and wanted to blur the line between his work and volunteering for causes he cared about. As potential jobs grew in number, so did staff.

Enspiral now has people in design, law, accounting, urban design, architecture, engineering, and environmental planning on board. The 83 people within 11 companies on board consider it an ”ecosystem” working towards what it calls ”a brighter future”.

Sam Rye works as a community connector at one of the businesses being incubated at Enspiral, production of software for food distributors BuckyBox.

He said Enspiral grew from Vial’s desire to create a business environment that was optimised more for happiness.

”It sort of morphed out of this idea of wanting to spend our lives doing something purposeful and meaningful that has grown from IT contracting into a much bigger ecosystem. We call it an ecosystem because first of all, that acknowledges it as a living system, not just about mechanistic cogs and wheels. Traditionally we talk about hierarchies [in business] but this is a headless organisation that is more about the flows of energy, resources and information,” Rye said.

”We now have sales, communicators, designers, marketing, advertising – pretty much anything and everything.”

The way Enspiral operates is getting results from the businesses under its wing such as Chalkle Whanau, which creates new kinds of community classes. It was recently awarded $13,000 of council funding to develop a range of affordable classes for local children and families.

Other businesses on board include community advocacy organisation Action Station, open- source web development company Rapid, and Loomio, creator of software for online discussions. When Loomio is used in the workplace, employees can propose their own ideas and vote on other peoples’ suggestions.”

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