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New Business Thinkers: Unearthed by the quakes

In the second part of her article on new business directions for Christchurch, Gaynor Stanley spoke with some local thought-leaders about social enterprises springing up around town.

Canterbury Tech former chair Michael Trengrove, commented in a 2016 report that the terrible circumstances brought upon by the earthquakes led to the development of some exceptional initiatives and forced our local tech sector to share more knowledge, be bolder and think bigger.  

Another who attributes the earthquakes to a transformation in the way Christchurch ticks is Parry Fields lawyer Steven Moe, who says the changing culture of the genteel Christchurch he grew up in is one of the reasons he moved back in 2016 after 11 years overseas living in Tokyo, London and Sydney.

“I was doing major deals and helping many wealthy people become wealthier and I kind of came to a realisation that maybe this isn’t what I wanted. Maybe I wanted to live more with no regrets,” says Steven. So he and his wife decided to move back home with their four children and, since coming back, he has been focused on ways that business can combine profit with purpose and writing a book on social enterprise. “It’s been a fascinating journey to learn more about this idea of taking the heart of charity and the mind of business and fusing them together to create social enterprise.”

Discovering many other likeminded locals challenging ways of doing things, open to new ideas and “thinking beyond how much money can I make?”, Steven launched his weekly podcast Seeds to interview, so far, 85 mainly Canterbury locals leading what he terms “lives of positive impact”.

“The quakes shook up the earth and buildings and they also shook up the way people think. A key thing that people are realising is that maybe it’s their time to try something new and that now is their greatest shot at succeeding.”

It’s this realisation of the temporary nature of life that has caused many people to reprioritise what they value, he says, and to proactively build a new culture alongside the new buildings and infrastructure.

Leading Social Entrepreneurs

MARS Bioimaging is a local superstar leading the world in next generation colour x-ray technology with its incredible advances in medical scanners. With 300 million people getting a CT scan around the world, getting better information, less invasively on cancers, cardiac conditions, and bone calcium levels and how these conditions respond to treatment is hugely impactful and satisfying work for good.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that in 30 years all medical imaging will be in colour,” says Professor Anthony Butler, who co-founded the Christchurch firm with his father Professor Phil Butler, who also founded Science Alive. The company has grown from just the two of them in 2007 to 50 people partly because of the Christchurch environment that fosters multi disciplinary work because everyone knows each other.

Camia Young’s Collett’s Corner is a community-owned property development initiative in Lyttelton, which Steven Moe describes as bumping up against current conceptions of property ownership in a radical way. The building has been developed in close collaboration with the community after a design competition and will include an extraordinary 22% public space alongside a wellness centre, retail and apartments. In just a few weeks over $150,000 has been committed to a crowdfunding campaign closing March 21 to kickstart the next phase of the project and get the Warren & Mahoney-led build (pictured top) out of the ground

Kilmarnock Enterprises' Michelle Sharp is empowering people with disabilities by employing 100 staff.

Profits from Alanna and Pete Chapman's 27seconds wine go to reduce human slavery in SE Asia.

Cookie Time founder Michael Mayell has now set up Nutrient Rescue to ensure more Kiwis get our ‘five a day’ of fruit and vegetables and avoid micronutrient-poor diets he says contribute to the modern epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and dementia.

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