The organization Inspiring Stories is about to launch its youth social enterprise workshop for its third consecutive year. Live the Dream is a program designed to help youth across New Zealand bring their ideas on social change into fruition. A nine-week intensive program, Live the Dream equips its participants with an increased sense of purpose, business connections, and the capabilities to realize their goals. Young people aged 18-30 across the country are encouraged to apply with a social or environmental issue they are passionate about. Individually, or in groups of two to four, applicants must present a problem that is negatively affecting the world in some way. They can also suggest an entrepreneurial solution, although it is not yet necessary as the professional development opportunity works with youth to develop practical solutions to problems afflicting society or the environment.
The program starts on November 30th and runs until February 19th 2016. Throughout, participants develop their ideas into social entrepreneurial initiatives, working with mentors from the non-profit and for-profit sectors and a number of industry leaders to learn invaluable job skills. When participants finish the program they will have tested their idea, developed an enterprise model, created a 90-day business plan, as well as networked with mentors and friends who become potential investors and supporters.
Guy Ryan is the man behind the program. He founded Inspiring Stories in 2011 in an attempt to empower youth across New Zealand, and Live the Dream is an extension of that pursuit. “Social entrepreneurship – the idea of using traditional business models to solve social problems, with a responsibility to purpose before profit – is an invaluable skill set for our young people to develop,” said Ryan. Through social enterprise Ryan hopes to inspire young people to foster real change in their communities, nationally or even globally.
Success stories from previous years light up the organization’s website. One participant, Lindsey Horne claims, “I’ve learnt more in the past 10 weeks than I have at five years of university.” A prominent example of a business practice that took off is Bonnie Howland’s Mascara for Sight initiative. This Live the Dream alumni took her socially responsible product to the market in an effort to cure treatable blindness in the Pacific Islands. Other examples include education initiatives for disabled children, renewable energy development, and youth theatre programs.
There is no cost associated with applying to the program. All fees to complete the program are externally funded, which breaks down to around $3000 per applicant. If you wish to make a donation to Inspiring Stories, you can do so through their public outreach initiative http://www.thefuturefund.org.nz/ with a mission of helping young people of New Zealand change the world.
SEE Change intern Samantha Scalise is currently living in Montreal studying international development at McGill University. Focusing on culture and society she hopes to use her degree to promote positive social change locally and globally.