To inspire a nation, inspire a generation

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Sure, the above title is something I just made up, but it touches on everything that an awesome social enterprise at The BizDojo is all about. In actual fact, this team isn’t only planning on changing our three little Kiwi islands, but also the whole world. Pretty ambitious, but given their track record so far, there’s no doubt that they’re already doing it.

Founder and CEO Guy Ryan kicked off Inspiring Stories back in 2011. Since then he’s given an opening Tedx Talk, received the Young New Zealander of the Year Award, and touched hundreds, if not thousands of lives. It all started with his passion for film, and the idea was to tell awesome stories about young Kiwis doing awesome things and changing the world. Hence the name.

This can be a different narrative to the one we often hear. Regardless of which generation we refer to, it seems that the younger one is lazy, wild, too progressive, lacks foresight, and a whole raft of other adjectives people choose to arm themselves with. Millennials are no different. They’re too stuck on their cellphones, they’re lacking social skills, they’re lazy, they’re unaware and so on. But Guy, and the whole Inspiring Stories crew, have a different story to tell. Millennials are super connected to each other by way of technology, they’re incredibly socially apt, they’re the most intelligent and aware generation in history, and they’re more knowledgable of the world’s social issues than ever before. With this skillset, they stand to become a huge global force that can affect change in massive, interconnected ripples that grow into world-wide-waves. It’s also important to remember that millennials are on the tail end of a global recession, with some of the toughest financial barriers facing them, in a world that bombards them with the idea that they can be superstars if they try hard enough, which in turn can lead to a sense of disillusionment when they realise that even landing a reasonable job takes a fair amount of work.

With this in mind, Guy also used the Inspiring stories platform to launch additional methods of bringing this demographic to the forefront of change. Rather than just documenting awesomeness, it was time to help facilitate it. Thus was born Festival for the Future in 2011. This event brings together young people, innovators, creatives, workshops, food, and entertainment. It’s an inspirational weekend, especially for tomorrow’s changemakers. In one powerful burst, it allows them to network, learn, create, and dream. It’s like an accelerator program all in one event. The festival is fast approaching in Auckland; the whole team is working to make this fifth event the best one yet. Hundreds of tickets are already sold, and with six weeks to go, it’s lining up to be a massive success (for those interested, it’s coming up in the first weekend of September).

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Another huge initiative that kicked off in 2013 was what the team called Live the Dream. It’s an intensive 10 week accelerator program for budding young (roughly 18 - 30 years of age) social entrepreneurs, in an effort to help them push their ventures further. What started as an Auckland and Wellington based program, is this year jumping to Christchurch as well. Up here at the BizDojo Auckland, we’re privileged to support the program by offering space for the Live the Dream graduates, in an effort to keep watching them grow in a supportive, collaborative space. Currently we have three awesome new companies in the space at the start of their journeys: Plastic Diet, Coplay, and Day of Deeds.

Ultimately, Inspiring stories is becoming an umbrella company that’s trying to inspire, but also help people take physical action in order to make ideas a reality. That’s the key to change actually happening, and in a measurable and tangible way. With all the different initiatives, Guy Ryan and the crew are increasing the tools and skill sets for these young people to solve our world’s problems. With that in mind, the next serious jump will be exhibited in September, after the festival, when they launch an ambitious fundraising campaign to provide their services to more Kiwis, as well as actual seed funding for the ventures - often the reason why ideas stop dead in their tracks. The hope, of course, is that these socially aware enterprises become significant contributors to our country’s economy.

So, what have we learned from this awesome, ambitious team? For me, it’s that an immense amount can be done in only a few short years. Countless lives can be affected in positive ways, and in such a way that those lives go on to affect others as well. It turns out that perhaps we can actually change the world; in this case, one awesome Kiwi at a time.

Gil Amir is the Community and Communications Coordinator of the BizDojo Auckland

Editors note: This week the guys from Inspiring Stories have been rallying support for a new initiative: The Future Fund. This professionally managed fund  will help financially back programmes and initiatives created for and/or by young people. To find out more head over to the official website and if you have a few spare dollars maybe even donate.