Live the Dream: Empowering dreamers with entrepreneurial skills

Live the Dream: Empowering dreamers with entrepreneurial skills

An entrepreneurial programme for New Zealanders "Live the Dream" is underway at CPIT over the Christmas holiday and New Year period.

Started by social enterprise organisation the Inspiring Stories Trust three years ago, this will be the first time the Live the Dream programme has been held in South Island, the charity's  brand, marketing and communications director Charlotte Graham said. A CPIT New Zealand Broadcasting School graduate, Graham was part of the selection panel for this year's Live the Dream participants, and helped launch the nine-week programme in Christchurch.

Bringing it home: CPIT New Zealand Broadcasting School graduate Charlotte Graham, who now works for social enterprise charity Inspiring Stories, helped set up the first South Island "Live the Dream" entrepreneurial programme, which is being hosted by her former institute over the next few months.

"We knew bringing Live the Dream to Christchurch would be a fantastic experience, because the city has such a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity. The community of social entrepreneurs in Canterbury is a flourishing one, and it's partly thanks to their generosity with their time, experience, and connections that the programme has launched successfully there."

Aimed at 17 to 30 year olds, Live the Dream is designed to help young New Zealanders grow their social entrepreneurship skills, and to use those skills to create a venture or initiative that tackles a social or environmental problem the world faces.

A dozen young Cantabrians were selected for the Christchurch chapter amongst 55 participants nationwide, to learn from and be inspired by some of Christchurch's leading thinkers and practitioners from a range of sectors, who donate their time as guest speakers, workshop facilitators and mentors. The programme is also being held in Auckland and Wellington.

"Part of our work this summer is to embed our young people within that community, so that even after Live the Dream finishes, our participants will have the support of others creating social change, as they take their ventures forward, " Graham said.

Some graduates of the programme are now running successful social enterprises or other ventures that prioritise social impact, including a few who are now full-time social entrepreneurs. They include Bonnie Howland, who created the social enterprise Indigo & Iris during last summer's Live the Dream. Her first product, Mascara for Sight, will fund sight-restoring operations in the Pacific through cosmetic sales.

CPIT has put up $2,000 in sponsorship and the use of its facilities for the programme's home base. A CPIT mechanical engineering student, and another graduate of CPIT, were among those selected to participate

As Live the Dream's Christchurch chapter was also run in partnership with tribal organisation Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, participants would have access to a wealth of entrepreneurial experience from the iwi, she said. Three Ngāi Tahu rangatahi were also among the participants.

The 2015 Young New Zealander of the Year Award recipient and Inspiring Stories chief executive Guy founded the charity as a start-up in 2011, and went onto create Live the Dream. In the last three years, more than 5,000 young Kiwis have participated in its programmes, including Live the Dream, Festival for the Future, a weekend of inspiration to change the world and the annual, national Making a Difference film competition. Ryan was also a panellist at the 2015 Social Enterprise World Forum in Milan with Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus, who invented microfinance. Supporting the next generation of social entrepreneurs to change the world was a strong theme at the conference.

Ryan said there was a massive opportunity ahead for Christchurch with the recent announcement that the city would play host to the 2017 Social Enterprise World Forum.

"This has the potential to raise the profile of social enterprise, and the idea that first and foremost, a business does good, to new heights in New Zealand," Ryan said.

He hoped some of the ventures from this summer's Live the Dream would grow to be part of the future of social enterprise in New Zealand.

Live the Dream began in November, and will pause during the Christmas break, resuming on January 11, 2016. A final showcase event will be held on Tuesday February 16. At that event, participants will pitch their venture ideas to the wider Christchurch business, leadership, and social enterprise community in hope of gaining support for them.