A Kiwibank and Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust initiative has been named the overall winner of the NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards held last night at the Auckland Museum.
The awards were now in their 10th year and had been restructured this year to better recognise businesses that were making a real difference by transforming the country's business landscape.
The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) was focussing on areas that encapsulated the future direction of the economy, SBN chief executive Rachel Brown said.
"The finalists and winners are responding to the many issues facing businesses, communities and the planet today.
"They are re-thinking business models, products and services and using a social and environmental lens to create a platform for change," Ms Brown said.
Kiwibank in collaboration with Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust won the Community Innovation Award and also won the overall award for 'Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable New Zealand' by addressing a critical issue which is about breaking the poverty cycle.
During the past two years, Kiwibank had supported Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust, the first microfinance initiative in New Zealand, Ms Brown said.
The programme addressed the causes of poverty and helped bring people in low-income areas out of debt.
The initiative, which reduced the impact and appeal of loan sharks in low-income areas, was a partnership of Child Poverty Action Group, NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services, and the NZ Council of Christian Social Services, she said.
"Kiwibank provides Nga Tangata with the capital to make small, safe and fair loans (of $2000 to $3000) to households in South Auckland.
"Loans are directed to responsible, asset-building purposes such as education, family wellbeing, and essential home goods. Kiwibank also provided essential business support and advice to set up the programme, and is currently the only bank in New Zealand supporting microfinance initiatives."
Now in its third year, Nga Tangata was extending its services from Auckland to the Waikato region.
"The Kiwibank/Nga Tangata initiative stood out to the judges because of the collaborative nature of the project, which ensures a genuine knowledge and understanding of the causes of poverty. It's directly addressing these causes, as opposed to supporting initiatives that simply look at the symptoms or stop gaps.
"The judges also felt that Kiwibank has taken on board this initiative out of a genuine desire to address poverty, rather than simply for commercial benefit," Ms Brown said.
• NZI Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable New Zealand (Supreme Award): Kiwibank / Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust
• Sustainability Champion Award: Sam Judd, Sustainable Coastlines;
• Communicating Sustainability Award: The Nappy Lady;
• Community Innovation Award: Kiwibank / Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust;
• Community Impact Award: Turning Trash into Treasure;
• Mega efficiency Innovation Award: New World Supermarket, Newlands & Foodstuffs NZ;
• Mega efficiency Impact Award: AUT University;
• Renewables Innovation Award: Vector Ltd;
• Renewables Impact Award: Yealands Estate Wines;
• Restorative Innovation Award: BioBrew Ltd;
• Restorative Impact Award: The Farm Butchery;
• Energy management Award: Yealands Estate Wines.