International business experts have jumped on board with Christchurch-based social enterprises to boost productivity and reach those in need.
Last updated 05:00, June 4 2017
The 2017 SAP Social Sabbatical had 12 international and local business experts mentor the founders of Christchurch-based social enterprises: Ethique, Kilmarnock Enterprises, Science Alive, and Cultivate.
SAP, based in Germany, was a technology company providing software solutions for thousands of organisations around the world.
SAP Australia New Zealand head of corporate affairs Perry Manross said the mentors became so invested in the enterprises they called contacts from around the world to help out.
The enterprises were chosen out of about 40 that applied in January.
Two Australian and one Kiwi mentor helped business owner and scientist Brianne West’.
Almost ten years on, her company Ethique was internationally recognised and made cruelty-free, environmentally friendly cosmetic and household products using 100 per cent vegan ingredients.
Despite her success, West hit a road block most businesses hope to one day run into: keeping up with burgeoning demand.
“The challenge we are experiencing is how on earth do we keep up with the demand we are forecasting, which is pretty significant,” she said.
“We’re expecting 25 million [orders] by 2022. It would be amazing if we can do it.”
Quality assurance was the main issue West worried about.
“Making sure we can keep up with demand for packaging. Growing is very difficult,” she said.
The mentors helped West’s team look at their manufacturing and lab processes to figure out the best way to grow the business.
“Social enterprises are so in the moment,” Manross said. “They’re resource stretched and don’t always have the capacity to take a step back and say hang on maybe we should do it this way or that way.”
“So many social enterprises are at a cross roads and what they decide now could shape what they look like 5-20 years from now.”
West valued the opportunity to take a step back.
“It’s been incredible. I was unsure to start with because having new people around can be quite disruptive, but they’ve been very good and positive, it’s been really exciting,” she said.
Every year, SAP employees were eager to be involved in the sabbatical to bring back passion and drive to the company.
Manross was always surprised at the amount of interest in the program.
“Some people have been supported by a social enterprise or charity hybrid in their lives. There are certain causes our people identify strongly with.”