More than monitoring: developing impact measures for transformative social enterprise

Abstract - EN

Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 involves transformational change in the business of business, and social enterprises can lead the way in such change. We studied Cultivate, one such social enterprise in Christchurch, New Zealand, a city still recovering from the 2010/11 Canterbury earthquakes. Cultivate works with vulnerable youth to transform donated compost into garden vegetables for local restaurants and businesses. Cultivate’s objectives align with SDG concerns with poverty and hunger (1 & 2), social protection (3 & 4), and sustainable human settlements (6 & 11). Like many grant-supported organisations, Cultivate is required to track and measure its progress. Given the organisation’s holistic objectives, however, adequately accounting for its impact reporting is not straightforward. Our action research project engaged Cultivate staff and youth-workers to generate meaningful ways of measuring impact. Elaborating the Community Economy Return on Investment tool (CEROI), we explore how participatory audit processes can capture impacts on individuals, organisations, and the wider community in ways that extend capacities to act collectively. We conclude that Cultivate and social enterprises like it offer insights regarding how to align values and practices, commercial activity and wellbeing in ways that accrue to individuals, organisations and the broader civic-community.

SDGs in this paper:

01. No Poverty02. Zero Hunger03. Good Health and Well-Being04. Quality Education06. Clean Water and Sanitation11. Sustainable Cities and Communities