Ethnic forum to discuss social entrepreneurship

An Auckland forum discussing ethnic diversity will focus on the potential of social entrepreneurship to create change and harness the skills and experience within communities.

The keynote speaker for the free EthnicA Auckland conference is Sir Ray Avery, the 2010 New Zealander of the Year. Sir Ray is perhaps best known as the man who brought intraocular lenses made in laboratories in Nepal and Eritrea to the world, so making modern cataract surgery available to the poor.

Mervin Singham, the Director of the Office of Ethnic Affairs, which is organising the conference says Sir Ray exemplifies how innovative ideas can connect communities, a key theme for the forum.

“Sir Ray’s experience is inspiring and he’s skilled at engaging people from all walks of life in projects that make a difference.”

A workshop takes up the theme of social enterprise – that is, organisations that use a business model to generate profit that is used for a social purpose.

Social enterprise is becoming an increasingly important concept for not-for-profit organisations searching for ways to become more sustainable within the tight economic climate.

Singham says the Office of Ethnic Affairs has launched a project aimed at fostering a network of ethnic organisations and mainstream experts who can promote social enterprise and the forum will help to explore this.

The conference will also look at the development of immigration trends in New Zealand.

A panel of experts will discuss the benefits and challenges of the shift in focus from Europe to Asia in the1980s to the present day.

“There’s been a drive to attract people to New Zealand who are wealthy, healthy, wise and skilled. There’s also room for the young who want to get an education, make a go of it, support their communities and achieve the best in their own lives,” says Singham.

“Maximising these opportunities will make New Zealand a stronger, more prosperous country. Finding and securing the connections within and between communities will make us all better off.”

The challenges and opportunities of maximising the potential of international students is the focus of another of the conference workshops.

The economic value of international education to the country is around $2.5 billion.

Leading experts will discuss how the contribution of international students can also benefit New Zealand’s research, innovation, trade and tourism sectors.

In another session; “Cultural Currency” Shortland Street actor, Brian Manthenga, who hails from Zimbabwe, will join Korean rapper, Joshua Jang from Auckland, in talking about the importance of the art and entertainment sector to the economy.

Singham says celebrating culture through the arts has become a significant part of the entertainment scene in New Zealand. We now want to look at the part the cultural sector plays in enhancing the economy and explore some of the challenges that may exist for business opportunities.


When: 9.00am – 4.30pm, Saturday 31 March 2012 Programme

Where: Alexandra Park, Greenlane Road West, Epsom, Auckland

Free and open to everyone.


EthnicA Conference Hamilton,                     1 April, 9.00am – 4.30pm.  Programme

EthnicA Conference Christchurch,               28 April, 9.00am – 4.30pm. Programme

EthnicA Conference Wellington,                  26 May, 9.00am – 4.30pm. Programme


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