Charity or Social Enterprise?

At the heart of our decision to become a social enterprise rather than a charity, was our belief in the rights of people living with disability. We have no moral opposition to charities but we think that our vision for the future would be best served by breaking the chains of dependency. Or at least starting our adventure without relying on the largesse of grants. If our idea is to succeed then we can’t be reliant on a source of income that is, at best, insecure. Not a sink or swim attitude, rather a belief that we were capable of initiating change and that we wanted to take personal responsibility for making that change happen.

Society through the last hundred years or so has created charities to protect the vulnerable from destitution. Not eliminate the causes of poverty or exclusion but to take the hard edges off. It is difficult for charities to challenge societal norms or political decisions. Often their own constitutions preclude them from taking sides politically. If the people who bestow grants change in the political winds, then upsetting one side could be the death knell for that charity.

For people with learning difficulties like autism we have created a raft of charities that act as both a safety net and often simultaneously as a shark barrier of exclusion. A net that keeps people in and yet out at the same time.

As a Social Enterprise our business either succeeds or fails on its own merit. If we succeed that success will be dependent upon the services we provide and the support of our customers and other supporters. If we succeed it will be because our community wants us to succeed; almost as much as we want it to succeed.

Further we will only continue to survive whilst our community supports us. Theoretically we could call ourselves a charity, get someone in Wellington or wherever to tick the box that gets the grant and put our feet up. We could, maybe, get another grant next year. That’s not to say that that is what Charities do. But we could.

Mahatma Ghandi once famously said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world”.

We want to be the change we want to see in our community and we want our community to walk with us.

We want to continue supporting young adults from our local Special School into employment.
We want to grow even more food biodynamically throughout West Auckland.
We want to teach more young people how to grow food for themselves and their family.
And we want to minimise waste and normalise urban composting.

We and the people we are serving are not a charity. But we acknowledge that, just like everyone else, from time to time, we need support. So please feel free to get creative and tell us how you could support us and our community with the unique range of talents you have.  

Our community is in West Auckland yet our wider community is the world we live in. We know that we have both local and International support. What we cannot know is the variety of simple or complex ways our community will help make this happen.

Think Global, Act Local.

If any of the above rings a bell here are some things you could do right away to support us:

  1. Like our Facebook page and share our Facebook posts.
  2. Sign up to our mailing list. We would like to keep in touch and Facebook isn’t always reliable.
  3. Come visit us. If you have manure or compost or eggshells or shredded paper or coffee grounds or time to volunteer, even better. But come anyway, please.
  4. If you have kids and live local you might want to look at our school holiday programme. If it appears too expensive then talk to us, we have potential silent sponsors and none of our goals are to become rich.
  5. Growing this idea has taken time and a lot of money. It is what we want to do so no complaints from us. Yet if we had more money, we could let our first year be focused on student and land development, rather than crop yields. Our bank details (ANZ) are Katrina’s Kitchen Garden: 06-0193-0789318-00 

-Steve McCarthy (Katrina’s Kitchen Garden)