Authenticity, Values, and Social Impact with Ezra Hirawani | Ep 5

Season #1

Today's conversation and dose of ideas and inspiration comes from Ezra Hirawani here in Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Ezra, alongside Rob and Ben, his colleagues, is a co-founder of the Kaupapa Maori business, Nau Mai Rā, which is an alternative energy firm founded in Maori values and principles. They provide electricity to their customers and that enables them to support communities and the 130,000 families here in New Zealand who are living in power poverty. 

They have recently raised more than $600,000 from their community for their community. 

Ezra's work and impact led to him being recognized as the Kiwi Bank Young New Zealander of the Year. And he talks a little bit about how he stayed grounded following the sudden visibility that this brought. 

Every conversation I've ever had with Ezra fills me with joy. 

His humility and authenticity shine through in every word. He's living proof that you don't have to change who you are and you don't ever have to compromise your values to be an effective leader and to secure the funding you need to turn your idea into impact. 

I hope our conversation makes you think differently about how social impact is evolving and who can make a difference. 

Ez and Nau Mai Rā aren't just disrupting the energy sector here in Aotearoa New Zealand, they're creating a new model of social impact that is founded in values and thoughtfully balances business and financial sustainability with deep social impact. 

They're also building a carefully balanced community and shifting people from being one dimensional customers to becoming engaged citizens, leveraging their energy consumption to make a social difference. 

There are lessons here in how we approach this shift from customer to citizen with our own communities of donors and partners. 

This conversation is also about finding the spaces for collaboration where incentives and motivations overlap. If we can understand what motivates individuals and groups to action, then we can leverage commercial products and behaviors. And that means we can build organic movements, nurture and grow social impact, and we can transform customers into citizens. And then together, we make systemic change possible. 

For me, there's something powerful about the equity and respect within the Nau Mai Rā community. These citizens, whether they're living in power poverty, or they're purchasing power, they're all part of the extended community that are the whānau of Nau Mai Rā. 

But this isn't just about patiently and thoughtfully solving power poverty in partnership with others. It's about shifting how we think about community and how we engage and mobilise citizens within our society to deliver and achieve equity. 

How all of this takes deep confidence, the sort of resilient confidence that can only root and grow in the most powerful places. Those places where our causes overlap with our convictions. 


Resources and links mentioned in this episode:


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