Sydney, 22 Oct 2015
Pro bono skilled volunteering by Macquarie Group staff has increased in recent years with many finding it a practical and valuable way of lending their support to community organisations.
Kick Starter is one example of a skilled volunteering initiative where more than 100 Macquarie staff have mentored 60 students and graduates from the School for Social Entrepreneurs since 2011.
As part of Kick Starter, participants work on their social enterprise – revenue-generating businesses tackling social problems - with their mentors to progress their venture and develop comprehensive business plans. These business plans are then submitted to a judging panel who select three grant winners from each Kick Starter round.
SSE graduate and Kick Starter 2015 round one winner Aviva Beecher Kelk and her business partner Jenna Moffat worked towards developing their social enterprise Clickability, with the help of their Macquarie mentors Elaine Fok and Elizabeth Bartlett.
Tech start-up Clickability is an online disability services directory which enables people to rate and review support services in the disability sector. The platform creates peer-generated information which supports people affected by disability to make informed choices about the disability services they use.
Fok and Bartlett were each drawn to Clickability for different reasons but both mentors found it a rewarding experience.
“I was inspired by the Clickability business model and have a personal interest in the disability sector,” says Bartlett.
“My mother suffered from a stroke four years ago and my experience in navigating the disability system when we were seeking help was challenging.”
“I needed something like Clickability at that time and when I saw Aviva and Jenna’s pitch it immediately appealed to me. I can see how Clickability will be useful for so many people, particularly with the National Disability Insurance Scheme coming into effect.”
The Clickability Kick Starter working group completed 12 sessions together, focusing on one component of the venture’s business plan per session, including financial projections, risk management, technology, marketing and budgeting.
Both mentors brought different knowledge and skills to the partnership along with connections to their own extended networks.
“Every session we did a deep dive into one area of the Clickability business plan to talk it through and develop it to where it needed to be. While Aviva and Jenna were great at communicating the vision, our role was to support and guide them in developing the detailed business structure,” said Fok.
With extensive backgrounds in social work, Beecher Kelk and Moffat were receptive to Fok’s and Bartlett’s business nous.
"We went into Kick Starter to get Clickability to a point where it has a solid business plan and can progress to becoming investment-ready, and we wanted Elaine and Liz’s input because we don't have the knowledge or skills they have. They offered us really great constructive feedback and we had a huge jump in skills as a result. Our good ideas were made better and it’s the best mentoring experience I’ve ever had,” said Beecher Kelk.
Other winners of Kick Starter 2015 round one included Anna Donaldson, founder of Life Experience, a social enterprise that brings together young and old people to increase employment and social connectedness. Lauren Shuttleworth, founder of Words With Heart, an eco-friendly stationery social business which funds female education and empowerment programs, also participated in Kick Starter.
Both entrepreneurs worked closely with their Macquarie mentors to strengthen their business acumen and drive forward their social enterprises.
As part of the Kick Starter program, each social entrepreneur also had the opportunity to work through a particular challenge they were facing within their social enterprise in a ‘Hackathon’ style event with small groups of Macquarie staff. Each Macquarie participant brought different skills and experience to help the social entrepreneurs work through their challenges over the course of a day.
“This is the kind of thing we work on every day so applying our business brain and being able to pass on our knowledge is rewarding,” said Bartlett, who also participated in the Hackathon.
“The participants were very adaptable and open to constructive comments and we were there to support the social entrepreneurs to work through their stumbling blocks.”
Since the Kick Starter competition, Beecher Kelk and Moffat have gone on to win ‘Winners Best Start Up Community or Social Impact’ in the 2015 Talent Unleashed Awards judged by Richard Branson, and are working on getting Clickability to an investment-ready stage.
“It’s the right time and space for Clickability and our community in the disability sector are very positive about where we’re headed,” said Beecher Kelk.
Image caption: Jenna Moffat and Aviva Beecher Kelk, co-founders of Clickability.