Accelerating employment opportunities for those who face the greatest barriers

 In General

6 months, 8 social enterprises, and 1 million dollars in major contracts and funding later, Launchpad Work is now complete.

Launchpad Work was New Zealand’s first business accelerator for ambitious social enterprises whose purpose is to provide jobs or training for individuals who face the greatest barriers to work. Whether this barrier is a disability, a lack of skills, or anything else which has led to an individual being marginalised, Launchpad Work is a programme which wraps support around organisations tackling these problems to enable them to grow their business, and in doing so increase their impact.

Internationally, social enterprise has proven to be an effective model to support people into employment, largely due to the fact that success to a social enterprise is not just making a profit, but achieving a positive impact in the world. In Scotland, 45% of social enterprises aim to create employment opportunities, whilst the broader social enterprise sector adds almost $2 billion to their economy each year. With the ability to benefit both the local community and the wider country, Ākina, the Ministry of Social Development and SkyCity Auckland Community Trust were excited to create a programme which accelerates the growth of employment-focused social enterprises.

To do this, Launchpad Work took the ‘startup accelerator’ format, made famous by programmes such as Y Combinator and TechStars, and tailored it to create a more bespoke programme to better suit social enterprise. Rather than having a predetermined outline of workshops & learnings, we assigned each business a business coach, or Venture Manager, at the beginning of the programme who was tasked with providing the Venture with wrap around support in whatever form they needed to enable them to accelerate through the programme.

One of the key ways this support was delivered was via a pool of mentors with deep experience within their respective fields. At the beginning of the programme, the participants had a ‘speed dating’ session with the prospective mentors, leading to ‘mentoring matches’ where the ventures secured amazing mentors to provide insights, challenge and support to them along their journey.

The other key structure of the programme was fortnightly ‘check-ins’ at GridAKL / John Lysaght – Startup Hub in Auckland, where we brought all of the participants together to reflect on progress, discuss goals, and enable them to learn from (and be accountable to) each other. This was really valuable time to enable the teams to ‘step out of the weeds’ and ensure it was the longer-term strategic goals they were focusing on and taking actions towards.

And the outcome of all of this? Well, we think the below infographic speaks for itself

This all occurred over just a six month period. And based on the goals these participants have over the next couple of years, we’re really excited to see their impact continue to grow and, alongside this, more and more people who face major barriers to employment find themselves in a rewarding role, and on a new life trajectory.


 This blog was prepared by Jackson Rowland | Venture Manager at Akina. Launchpad Work would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors, The Ministry of Social Development, SkyCity Auckland Community Trust, GridAKL and the team at the GridAKL / John Lysaght Startup Hub, and Foundation North. Thank you for enabling this impact.

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