Recently we were lucky enough to have Clementine Baker and Laura Ansell from the Akina foundation in the Lightning Lab GovTech space to speak to our teams about impact. The Akina foundation is making a huge difference in the social enterprise sector by working towards building a supportive, sustainable and prosperous Aotearoa.
What does it mean to have impact?
Social enterprises are rapidly growing around New Zealand and the world. But what’s a social enterprise? It’s simply a business that has its roots in creating social change. Social enterprises are designed to raise revenue, but their core goal is always to create a positive social impact.
To simplify, we can think about “impact” as a sum of the positive outcomes that happen, as a result of the activities of a certain business or project. Let’s say that a cafe employs a barista who knows sign language and can communicate with deaf citizens. Local people with hearing disabilities now have a place where they can order coffee easily without any confusion or potential difficulties that might arise in other cafes. This simple consideration can make a huge difference to the local deaf community, contributing towards increasing their sense of belonging, while also ultimately benefit the cafe’s revenue.
Why is impact important and why you should talk about it?
Understanding the level of impact of your organisation can provide you with useful information about your project’s direction and objectives; it will also help you create a clear link between the actions taken by the organisations and the outcomes generated by these actions.
Don’t be afraid to talk about your business’ impact. Displaying the impact of your business or project can help you demonstrate the value that you are delivering to stakeholders and society as a whole. In order for consumer’s to make informed decisions, it’s important to clearly show how your business approach is aiming to create a positive impact for our society.
Where can you start from?
The first step is to clearly understand the impact of your business and how to measure it. Start with these 3 simple questions:
- What are you working towards and why would it be a good thing if you achieved that?
- Have you chosen a good approach to help you achieve that good thing?
- Can you show the logic that links the approach you are taking and the good thing you are working towards?
A good way to show the logic behind your approach, is by adopting the Theory of Change.
The Theory of Change is a common methodology for planning, participation, and evaluation often used by social enterprises, not-for-profit and governments. This theory defines long-term goals and then begins to map backward to identify the necessary steps for the success of the project.
Organisations like Akina, have done amazing work when it comes to defining and understanding the impact of a project or business. They even have developed an “impact model“ to create an outline for businesses to refer to, with in-depth information through each of the stages. If you’d like to find out more, head over to Whare Āki, the community space they have created which provides highly useful resources, a forum for discussion and many other tools to help you get started.
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