Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and Auckland Unlimited have swung their support behind a Papatoetoe based social enterprise company by purchasing cleaning products for their office kitchens and cafeterias.
Will&Able is a charity dedicated to employing people with disabilities, particularly intellectual, and those with mental health issues, who struggle to find permanent, fully paid employment elsewhere.
In 2019 Auckland Council became the first public sector body in the country to announce sustainable procurement targets of 5 per cent.
“The decision by Auckland Council and its CCOs to purchase from us represents the single largest commitment yet made by any local or central government agency in New Zealand,” says Craig Burston, Will&Able’s General Manager.
This follows the recent decision of two major supermarket chains to stock Will&Able products and a raft of other major corporates to join the growing list of companies purchasing for social good.
Economic researchers BERL have estimated social enterprises contribute up to $1.8 billion in GDP annually, plus several billion dollars more in social and environmental value.
Mayor Phil Goff is pleased that Auckland Council is supporting the social enterprise.
“Will&Able provides employment and livelihoods to people who might otherwise be excluded from the labour market,” he says.
“This is an innovative approach to procuring necessary products for the council that provides additional benefits to society, as well as being ecologically sustainable.”
“More than 28,000 online customers and many more corporates are already using our products, but local and government agencies have been slow to get behind the movement to buy from social enterprises like Will&Able,” explains Craig Burston.
He is hopeful the leadership shown by Auckland Council might prompt other councils around New Zealand and central government departments to support fast-growing and innovative social enterprises like Will&Able.
Sustainability is a key component of the business. The eco range of products is stored in bottles made from 100 per cent recycled milk bottles which can be returned to the 70 Aon Insurance branch locations nationwide. They are then sent to a network of disability organisations around the country to be washed and returned to Will&Able for reuse. This closed-loop recycling model is unique in New Zealand.
“It feels good to do business with an organisation that’s creating positive social and environmental outcomes for Auckland,” says Robert Irvine, General Manager Corporate Support Services at Auckland Council.
“Will&Able is changing our traditional view of procurement and challenging us to think differently about how we purchase products. For us, it’s no longer just about price, it’s about social good,” he adds.
The purchase of products by Auckland Council organisations will result in more jobs being created as Will&Able strive to employ 100 plus people nationally over the next three years in jobs paying minimum wage to those who might otherwise have been unemployed and dependant on welfare benefits.