The country’s first online social procurement platform has launched today, bridging the gap between social enterprises and potential buyers.
Fwd: (pronounced ‘forward’) is an online marketplace that fosters social procurement. This is when environmentally and socially-minded businesses can purchase goods and services from social enterprises.
About 40 certified social enterprises have already joined the platform, including Kilmarnock Enterprises, with another 10 expected to gain certification soon.
The platform is the work of The Ākina Foundation and New Zealand Post. The two companies believe that social procurement is the way forward, particularly as businesses move away from models purely based on financial return.
The Ākina Foundation chief executive Louise Aitken says that many businesses are taking social and environmental impact into account. Fwd: will be 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”.
New Zealand Post is one of the first large businesses on Fwd:. The company has a public social procurement target to add three social enterprises to their supply chain. The company ended up adding five social enterprises and is currently trialling a sixth.
“It’s really important to us that who we chose to do business with reflects who we are as a company,” comments 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.”
“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 partly funded by the Social Enterprise Sector Development Programme, which is the partnership between Government and the Ākina Foundation. The goal of the development programme is to enable a flourishing social enterprise sector in New Zealand.
“Government, New Zealand Post and Ākina are working to lead this conversation, but we know we can’t do it alone,” says Ākina Foundation social procurement lead Dr Sean Barnes.
“Government, New Zealand Post and Ākina are working to lead this conversation, but we know we can’t do it alone.”
“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,” Barnes concludes.