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Seed Waikato is a social enterprise that was established in 2017 to provide opportunities for connection and growth for people under the age of 30 in the Waikato region.

They hold inspiring events and educational workshops, re-write the millennial narrative through story-telling, provide mentors and advice, and this year will launch their online courses (micro-credentials) that develop soft skills, facilitate social innovation projects, and empower millennials to move into governance.

Gemma Major, Seed Waikato Chair and Co-founder, explains that, like every generation, the millennial generation faces unique challenges. “We know millennials experience high levels of disconnection, depression and anxiety, all influencing the horrific youth suicide statistics. In Aotearoa, every 63 hours a young person commits suicide, the highest rate in the developed world.”

“In our local research, the biggest challenge facing young people is lack of meaningful connections such as finding new friends, being a part of a community, walking away from toxic friends or finding mentors,” says Gemma.

“A recent Action Stations survey of 1,000 young people told us they’re strongly concerned that they don’t have the relevant skills to flourish in the 21st century, with 31% of jobs estimated to be automated over the next 20 years.”

In Seed Waikato’s local research they also found that 28% of millennials wanted to be inspired, challenged or encouraged to develop themselves personally and/or professionally, and that there is lack of understanding of what opportunities are available to do this.

Initially a volunteer-led movement running monthly events, Seed Waikato brought together three inspiring successful leaders to discuss topics such as reslience, growth mindset, vulnerability and culture. “We were overwhelmed with the response!”

“We received requests for us to do more, including political engagement, workshops, video content, blogging, volunteering, mentoring, awards, collaborations and partnerships, and we have evolved from there. The need is huge,” explains Gemma. 

Seed Waikato began as a registered charity, relying heavily on grant funds, but have a clear plan for 2019 to become more sustainable.  “This year we launch our consulting business on how to attract, maintain and attract top quality millennial talent, working with a range of organisations to remain competitive,” says Gemma. “Our goal is to use 100% of the profits to fund projects and programmes.”

Seed Waikato are currently fundraising to appoint their first employee to drive what millennials want. There has been interest from Auckland and Wellington to replicate the model, and they are investigating how to support millennials across the country, then around the world.

Seed Waikato aims to improve the wellbeing of young people through education and connection, empower the millennial generation to be engaged in in all parts of society, and build a celebrated community.

Since their beginnings in 2017, there have been many Seed Waikato success stories, and two are shared below:

“StrEAT Feast Community Meets is a new community based initiative that came out of the dreaming at the Seed Waikato Dreamshop in November 2018. The idea is to hold community potluck dinners in our neighbourhoods with the belief that food is one of the best ways to bring people together to connect, and that we need more connections and a sense of community to better our mental wellbeing. A village-like approach. Without Seed Waikato providing the environment and tools to create this idea it may not have been realised - they provide a space for people to dream big.” (Rachel Bauer, Co-founder of StrEAT Feast Community Meets)

"In a hard time in my life when I was unhappy in my job and considering whether to stay or go, attending a Seed Waikato evening helped me realise what was really important in my life and progress forward. It also gave me a sense of camaraderie, knowing other young people in the community were on the same quest to find out what is important to them." (Anonymous, event attendee). 

“We have been truly humbled by the dreaming and doing our millennial community is up to here in the Waikato. We have inspired and encouraged individuals to begin volunteering, launch a business, start a charity, find their creative voice through blogging, connect with a mentor, improve their mental health through reaching out for help, connect to their Iwi, find purpose and meaning through work, and find friends to do life with,” says Gemma.

For more information or to donate go to seedwaikato.nz.

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