Tauranga is, in many ways, at the forefront of a shift towards social enterprises. More and more we’re seeing businesses prioritise causes and community before profits and Not-for-profits look for sustainable economic engines to support their work, rather than rely on funders. As entrepreneurs increasingly move into this space, we’re determined to give them all the support, learning opportunities and networks they need to succeed.
Metro Marketing is a local social enterprise, an outsourced marketing service, run by Michelle Whitmore. Here she tells us, in her own words, what Metro does, why their focus is squarely on their community and why you should consider this path, too.
Metro Marketing is a supplier of outsourced marketing services with clients ranging from local government and CCOs to smaller, privately-owned businesses. Our inhouse team includes marketing advisors and strategists, graphic designers, Google adwords and social media specialists and journalists.
We are like a one-stop shop for people who know that marketing is important, but don’t want to take care of it themselves. In reality, the digital and marketing world is changing fast, so it’s easier for clients to outsource the digital work and know there is a team of specialists across it, who are discerning enough to know how best to optimise their budget and get best bang for buck.
Corporate Social Responsibility has always been a value that has driven me personally and it inspires a greater good in our business. The truth is that good actions act as magnets for good people and good people invariably become good clients and good employees. I heard someone once say ‘serve first, profit second’ and it really resonated with me.
You can have a good business while also doing good in the world, and that is what we try to do. Other businesses with similar philosophies have noticed that, and that is invariably why they choose Metro. Also, we do a lot of pro bono work or work at charity rates for not-for-profits and often their board members will have businesses who notice our ‘for good’ approach and endorse it by offering us their business’s work.
We have had to cap our pro bono and charity work to manage the demand (I wish we could do more, but we need to also have an eye on the business drivers, too). Every charity needs extra funds which is something we are acutely aware of, so we do what we can to help.
Many of us at Metro are on Boards, including Waipuna Hospice, Papamoa Surf Club rebuild, Merivale Community Centre, Creative Bay of Plenty. Over the years we’ve helped the Breast Cancer Support Services Trust, Wish for Fish, Alzheimers, Zeal Hamilton, Seed Waikato, Rotary, Sistema Waikato… the list goes on.
Giving back is just part of our ethos. We also donated $2000 to be the catalyst for fund-raising for the beach mat for disabled access and that sparked the other $13,000 to come in, and for the beach mat to stay in the Bay of Plenty. It feels good everytime I go past that mat – and see disabled people on the beach or in the water. Magic.
I think it’s important for businesses to give back to their communities because everyone should endeavour to leave the world better than they found it. We all operate in a giant ecosystem and it behoves all of us to do what we can. In my view, it’s just good practice and as the person or organisation that’s making the gift, you always receive more in return - sometimes in ways that you least expect. I can be moved to tears when I see something that we’ve initiated changing someone’s life for good. Money can’t buy that feeling.
For anyone out there considering this approach, I’d say that you can have both – profit and community good. One doesn’t have to be at the expense of the other, and in fact, one informs and contributes to the other.
I have received so many commissions for amazing work because people have read about our community good, seen what we do, made note that it’s authentic and not just to tick a box, and so they have rung us. Most of our great clients are also givers, and so we all have a common understanding and language. That’s the buzz – that there’s other people out there too who think like we do.
We are also proud to be founding sponsors and partners of StepChangers - a social enterprise created to help New Zealand businesses develop and manage strong corporate social responsibility programmes, so everyone in your team can go home proud. Check out the StepChangers website to see how they can help you support communities.
Extra for experts
To join in and meet with other social entrepreneurs, or people with an interest in social enterprise, join in the newly created Tauranga Social Enterprise meetup kicking off on March 20.
Venture Centre works to connect people on enterprising journeys - with each other and the mindset, skillset, toolsets, networks and resources they need - to build an ecosystem that delivers real-world, learn-by-doing events, activities, projects and experiences, and more... This would not be possible without the support of Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District councils.