New Zealand Post has given part of its uniform contract to a social enterprise that helps workers in India © PA Images
New Zealand Post has given part of its uniform contract to a social enterprise that helps workers in India © PA Images

'Social enterprise is going to grow'

19 March 2018

New Zealand Post is sharing contracts with social enterprises, which reinvest profit for the benefit of community or social gain, delegates at the CIPS New Zealand conference were told.

Procurement is evolving and value is now defined beyond purely financial considerations, said Matt Parsons, procurement team manager of New Zealand Post. The state-owned enterprise has been working with the Akina Foundation, an organisation that helps connect businesses with other social enterprises.

New Zealand Post, which delivers over 800 million items a year, is dedicated to supporting social enterprise, enabling the business to continue with an overarching commitment to community investment. “We have an obvious connection with communities and care about supporting them,” Parsons said. “Social enterprise is going to grow,” he added.

It has been working with the Akina Foundation for about four years and recently increased activity, moving the relationship to a partnership, said Sean Barnes, venture manager at Akina, following the Social Enterprise World Forum when the postal company’s chief executive announced that it would contractually engage with at least three social entereprises in the coming 12 months.

One of the opportunities Parsons found led to a contract for polo shirts moving from the usual uniform supplier to a small business whose purpose is to create a positive social and environmental impact - it pays a good living wage to workers in India, provides education and helps improve their life. “We talked to the incumbent. We have a really good relationship, so they knew that there was good reason,” he said.

Parsons and Barnes offered some tips on involving social enterprises:

• The contract size needs to be worthwhile enough for the social enterprise and still suit the wider business and the incumbent.

• Set out a road map and implementation plan to build momentum. Take the quick wins, but plan for the harder part that need time.

• Support others. As well as engaging an expert, such as Akina, buyer to buyer support opportunities are important.

• Engage with the supply chain. You’ll likely find suppliers are keen to take the same journey.

• Align action strategically across the organisation, gain high level support and engage with any pockets of interest around the organisation.

• Learn. Capture the learning from the quick wins, create case studies and talk to your suppliers and buyers.

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