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The kids are alright

Everybody wins with a successful Gen-Y social enterprise
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Photograph by Hamish Trounson

Who said Gen Y was selfish? Give them a cause and they’re quick to help—and their new-media skills are in hot demand with community groups. These two factors gave a couple of Wellingtonians an idea that they’ve turned into a successful social enterprise.

In 2007, former schoolmates Pamela Minett and Adele Barlow hatched the idea of matching IT students—who often wanted to be involved in their community but didn’t know how—with community groups that had technology needs but no budget. The only thing missing? Money.

No problem. The pair won a grant from the Tindall Foundation enabling them to run the first yMedia Challenge, a two-week programme where students immersed themselves in a community group then set about finding and using the right technology for their needs.

Since then, yMedia has found support and sponsorship (in cash, in kind and in consultancy) from Telecom, Microsoft and InternetNZ, which has enabled Minett and Barlow to run the business full time.

They’re not thinking small, either. In 2009 they plan to launch a digital TV station/blog for youth, a documentary produced with Enviroschools, a tertiary engagement programme in information technology with the New Zealand Computer Society, and online portal yChallenge365, which Minett describes as “the next step up from the yMedia Challenge”.

For an idea that arrived over a quick catch-up between friends, yMedia is meeting a remarkable number of needs. Maybe that’s the best thing about Generation Y—the need to make sure everyone wins.