Social Procurement’s Value Recognised by Business Community

Social Procurement’s Value Recognised by Business Community


Changing consumer expectations are making businesses more aware of social procurement’s value delivering a positive social impact, says the woman tasked with growing New Zealand’s burgeoning social enterprise sector.  

Louise Aitken is CEO of the Ākina Foundation, the principal intermediary for social enterprise in New Zealand.

She spoke to Pro Bono News following her recent appearance at the Procure with Purpose Luncheon in Sydney, where she discussed the importance of social procurement.

Aitken said social procurement was becoming better recognised by the business community, as a changing market made organisations increasingly aware of the importance of purpose and impact.

“We have consumers who are asking more questions of traditional businesses around what they are delivering in the communities in which they serve,” Aitken said.

“Even employees are asking questions. They are starting to think about how they can work within organisations that are delivering a positive social and environmental impact.

“You’ve also got investors asking the same questions, and the increase in size of the impact investing space is making boardroom tables have different conversations, not only focused on the risk side, but also on the delivery of positive impact.

Ākina Foundation has been appointed strategic partner to the New Zealand government to further establish the nation’s social enterprise sector.

Aitken acknowledged Australia was still the “big cousin” when it came to social enterprise, and praised Victoria in particular for its social procurement achievements.

“We’re on a journey probably slightly behind Australia, certainly at state level. I think probably the most advanced state in Australia as far as social procurement goes is Victoria. They are doing some amazing things with our partners Social Traders,” she said.

“In New Zealand we are really forming and establishing as a sector. It’s been a pretty organic growth over the past ten years or so.

“Over the next three years we’ll be looking not only to increase capability and impact, but also to increase the market size and the investment that’s available to social enterprises.”

Aitken said social procurement was the accelerator for growth in New Zealand’s social enterprise space, not only within corporate supply chains “but also within local and central government”.

She stressed however the importance of social enterprises measuring their impact, although she said it had to be in a way that made sense for the organisation.

“There’s lots of different frameworks that can be used but ultimately it’s about examining what the organisation is doing to help solve whatever social or environmental problem they’re working towards,” she said.

“And technological tools like the amazing things that’s happening in the blockchain space will hopefully make it a lot easier for organisations to build reporting mechanisms within their own organisation.

“That’s something the social enterprise sector globally is really focused on. We want to be able to really deliver good capability to organisations so they can understand their impact and report this to all their stakeholders, whether they be employees, consumers or investors.”   


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