Jamie Newth, from impact investment specialists Soul Capital, is a lead investor in the business, which connects ‘conscious’ consumers with ethical retailers. “It’s no surprise that this is one of the largest capital raises in history for a New Zealand social enterprise,” says Newth. “Internationally, ethical spending is on the rise, and home-grown companies like Conscious Consumers are well-placed to promote their product to a global audience. There has been a huge amount of interest from UK investors.”
Conscious Consumers co-founder and chief executive Ben Gleisner is pretty chuffed. “We wanted to help connect people with companies that were doing the right thing,” says Gleisner. “We knew heaps of businesses were working hard to make a difference – from fair-trade coffee to carbon conscious businesses. But it was really tough for consumers to find them and understand what they were actually doing,”
From small beginnings with their first customer, Wellington’s iconic Fidel’s Café, the programme now lists organisations like Meridian Energy, Icebreaker, and Kathmandu as clients. It has 500 retailers signed up to the programme, and over 20,000 customers use the app on a regular basis. “We are collecting some really amazing data on the issues consumers care about and their spending patterns,” says Gleisner. “These insights help inform retailers on new initiatives they can adopt, and enables them to promote their sustainability story to new and existing customers – direct to customers’ phones.”
Meridian Energy’s Melanie Lynn said it was a “no-brainer” to partner with the organisation. “As a 100 percent renewable energy generator, it’s really important for us to show we are genuine about our sustainability goals,” she explains. “We’re also keen to offer something that gives real value to our customers.”
Gleisner says Conscious Consumers hopes to raise another $1 million from UK-based investors in the coming months. “Our programme provides a strong financial return, and it’s easy to measure the positive social and environmental impact from day one,” claims Gleisner. “So it’s very attractive to the large international impact investment funds who are looking for these triple bottom line returns.”
Local investment has come from a wide range of sources, including Soul Capital, Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 Fund, The Icehouse, Angel HQ, and a number of individual investors.