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The Generator’s co-design process

Our initial co-design interviews with clients who are experiencing hardship and using budgeting services, along with budgeting service providers, identified that even a great budget can’t make up for not having enough money to survive day to day.

People who are experiencing hardship want to be able to provide for their family and be financially secure rather than their life being a constant struggle. Meanwhile, budgeting advisors are looking for opportunities to help their clients increase their income and resources.

Out of this co-design came 12 concepts aimed at building a spectrum of support from prevention to crisis that would build the financial capability and resilience of people experiencing hardship.

One of these concepts was to support people with income and resource generation. From there, we began to develop a prototype of the idea of practical and aspirational income and resource generation options that help people to actively maximise their situation and ideally grow their resources.

What people in hardship told us

We talked with people experiencing hardship about this prototype and were told:

  • People want to learn and find different ways of generating income and resources, but lack the signposts. There was general excitement about the concept and how this could help them.
  • The prototyping process generated indications of buy in and value to the user – e.g. people went off to look at how they could generate new income etc.
  • They are frustrated with wanting to do better, of wanting a job, of wanting stability, but find it so hard to make that first step.
  • People need support and encouragement to build their confidence and self-esteem. There is power in stories from people who are like them, who have been there and made change.
  • They said that ways to generate income and resources, other than getting a job are not visible or promoted in the community, or you have to know where to look.
  • They said they were frustrated that employers were not seeing the wealth of experience they had just because they didn’t have a qualification or job experience.

Bridging the gap in support

This research of our prototype indicated that services aimed at people experiencing hardship are currently aimed primarily at building their financial capability, and training for employment.

Between these, an in-between step is required to help bridge the gap from “where I am to where I want to be”. There is a need to create opportunities for people, families and whānau to reduce their hardship, by taking steps to increase their income and resources as well as employment opportunities through community action and enterprise initiatives.

Making of a half-baked pie

To build on what we had been told by people experiencing hardship, the Ministry ran a five-day design Sprint in July 2017. The purpose of the Sprint was to design a structure and process that would maximise the impact of growing people, families, whānau and communities to move beyond financial hardship.

Our target group were communities (of place and identity) experiencing the highest levels of hardship. We knew that this was primarily Māori and Pacific peoples, sole parents (who are mostly women) and younger people.

During the Sprint, we listened and took ideas from people who were currently working with communities to help them move beyond hardship, we researched and prototyped possible interventions, and then took the best of these to develop The Generator.

We then tested this with a range of stakeholders.

Our intent was to develop The Generator as a ‘half baked pie’ that could be built upon by the successful provider.

Some sources that informed our approach

  • The Generator’s implementation approach builds on principles for collective impact movement building as advocated the Tamarack Institute; and for place-based systems change as elaborated by Collaborate.
  • The online platform supports a system that learns and innovates, which is part of the collective impact approach, and also advocated by the Productivity Commission’s report on More Effective Social Services.
  • The Generator’s approach to funding of innovative social ventures is drawn from NESTA.
  • The community generators way of working is based on principles of community-led development, and draws from the Participatory City study on mass participation to build resilient neighbourhoods.