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Proceeding expectations

8 October 2022
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Christchurch local Bridget Williams is an ex-lawyer, entrepreneur and change-maker who uses beads and "a bit of paint" to bring about sustainable and positive change. Words Hannah Brown

Bridget Williams is the founder of Bead & Proceed, a social enterprise that exists to educate people on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

It was after a bad day in court that the Bead & Proceed seed was born. After coming home exhausted and drained, Bridget wanted to put her energy into something creative and positive. 

She decided to make a necklace with brightly coloured beads. 

The next day she was flipping through the pages of a magazine when she found a page on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

She was shocked when she read that New Zealand had signed onto these goals in 2015, yet she had not heard of these economic, social and environmental goals that each aligned with a different colour. 

Bridget says that was when she came up with the idea that people could make five-beaded necklaces or keyrings, which represented the five sustainable goals they felt most passionate about. 

That was the beginning of Bead & Proceed, and in the following few years, Bridget thought about the idea and developed it. 

She started to realise the potential for growth, and a pivotal moment was when a leadership retreat reached out to her and asked her to run a workshop. 

Bridget says she loves how the workshops “engage and inspire people to connect with their goals.” 

She says that businesses also find them useful for finding out what their staff care about. 

Then Bridget started offering presentations at conferences, where audience members each painted one bead each, with the colourful goal they aligned with the most. 

Bridget then would weave all the beads from the audience into a beautiful mural. 

“The artwork serves as visual data,” she says. 

Alongside these facets of Bead & Proceed, Bridget also offers consulting services and programmes to educate on the sustainable development goals in the community. 

Bridget has been running the social enterprise full time since 2019 and says that in recent years she has been fascinated by the changes she’s observed in the Sustainable Development Goals that people align with the most. 

“The top SDGs at the moment are SDG 10 Reducing equalities and SDGS 13 climate action,” she says. 

“When the covid pandemic started SDG 3 health and wellbeing became prominent, because everyone realised the importance of health and wellbeing.” 

Bridget says, “I am a firm believer social enterprises are the future of business.” 

Her advice for others thinking of starting one is that “it's okay if your idea changes, and if it does, challenge yourself to constantly grow and change with it.” 

“We live in a society that expects instant results, we need to realise that we are not going to see the result instantly,” she adds. 

And from looking at what Bridget has achieved, it's fair to say, her mantra “progress compounds” has taken her and her creativity very far. 

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