The Lifeboat in Greymouth is about so much more than coffee …
Below is a case study from a New Zealand Social Enterprise. To learn more about Te Whāngai Trust, visit their website.
Who are the Te Whāngai Trust?
Te Whāngai was established as a charitable trust in September 2007 by Gary and Adrienne Dalton, who were inspired by their late daughter’s passion for the environment and helping others. Their mission is to create a sustainable ecological, social and educational enterprise that supports, trains and advocates for people who find it challenging to enter the labour market. Te Whāngai takes a holistic whanau-centered approach and supports each trainee with an assessment and programme tailored to their individual needs and goals. Their trainees can face complex challenges ranging from drug, alcohol or mental health issues with some also experiencing physical or learning challenges.
What Problem Are They Trying to Solve?
Te Whāngai are trying to create solutions to a number of problems.
- Over the last century and a half, the industrial revolution and demand for cheap food to feed lower socio-economies have placed unsustainable pressures on our environment.
- The pursuit of financial profit without measuring social and environmental or cultural consequences, has led to the denigration of our environment and social structure.
- Whāngai — an indigenous concept of Aotearoa — is a means of meeting community social needs especially for the young, ensuring they are provided with adequate opportunity to grow and Te Whāngai want to uphold this.
How Does Their Model Work?
Te Whāngai operates a commercial eco-nursery and a dairy farm where people are supported to learn how to grow and nurture each other as well as the environment by growing native plants that are then sold, alongside environmental services, to private companies and the government. They also work with trainees to help them understand what’s involved in protecting the environment while managing a commercial farm. Key partners include Fonterra, NZ Steel and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). Te Whāngai generates most of their revenue from their services (30 percent of their revenue is generated via a contract with MSD) and they currently rely on only 20 percent of their funding from philanthropic sources. In the future, they aim to be entirely self-funded.
What's Their Scale and Impact?
- In 2011 the Trust planted 55,500 trees.
- As of June 2012, 198 employees have found full time employment in the community while participating in the Te Whāngai programme. This amounts to a 60 percent success rate.
- During their first five years of operation, Te Whāngai has supported more than 270 people through their 26 week programme and over 700 people through their daily programmes.
- Te Whāngai’s Hi Road Programme, tailored to support vulnerable youth, has resulted in 66 vulnerable youth participants testing drug free; and their pilot programme with high risk recidivist youth offenders has resulted in 73 percent not re-offending.
Te Whāngai currently operates on three sites where they employ 16 people and support 100 trainees annually. They are planning to scale their operation over the next five years via a social franchising model – working with people and community organisations to adopt the Te Whāngai training and business model. Scaling will also involve partnerships with commercial partners. Te Whāngai is aiming to set up a pilot nursery at Fonterra’s production facility in Te Rapa, Hamilton. If successful, the programme will be rolled out across many of Fonterra’s sites.
How Can You Get Involved?
Te Whāngai received support from MSD to build capacity and strengthen their existing operations. This year, the Ākina Foundation is providing support for the next stage of their accelerated growth. Ākina is helping Te Whāngai to develop their business case and financial model for scaling through replication. Alongside this direct support, Ākina has brokered advice from a business analyst and staff at New Zealand Post on systems, reporting and human resources management.