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Social entrepreneur's new thinking celebrated


Massey University Pro Chancellor Dr Helen Anderson with Hans Zuur, the grandfather of Silvia Zuur, who accepted the New Thinking Award on her behalf.

Silvia Zuur

Social entrepreneur Silvia Zuur is this year’s winner of the Massey University New Thinking Award announced at last night’s Gold Awards.

The annual event celebrates the best of Wellington business, while the award recognises a Wellingtonian who has demonstrated world-class intellectual or practical application in their chosen enterprise–such as Ms Zuur who is a director of the Wellington-based social enterprise Enspiral.

Since being established seven years ago, Enspiral has gone on to become one of the most recognisable names among do-it-yourself collectives of social enterprises, ventures and individuals.

Having supported many social entrepreneurs to move their ideas into reality, Ms Zuur has run entrepreneurship programmes, training academies, conferences and retreats – all with a focus of supporting more people to work on what Enspiral calls “stuff that matters.”

Three of her favourite ventures involving Enspiral include the Dev Academy that brings population parity to the technology workforce, the youth wellbeing intervention Lifehack and the online decision-making software Loomio.

“Enspiral fosters a new way of working, focusing on empowering people to do the work that needs to be done to create that future world, rather than organise and re-establish the world of the past. Enspiral helps everyone think forward.”

She sees the award as wider recognition of the Wellington start-up community and the work they have undertaken together. “New thinking is hard. Old thinking, the status quo has a powerful force that can be hard to overcome,” she says. “New Thinking is courageous, acknowledging fear and acting anyways.

“I appreciate the ability to take a moment to reflect on the work that has been done, and then also to see with more clarity the work that still needs to be done. So, for this reason I’m actually in Europe right now on a thinking break. So, there is a wonderful humour and smile on my face to recognise the timing of this award!”

Her grandfather Hans Zuur accepted the award on Ms Zuur’s behalf at the glittering event presentation held at the TSB Arena.

“Personally, it’s also nice to celebrate my thinking, because so often I’m caught up in the doing. It has reminded me that my thinking and my ideas are valuable,” Ms Zuur says.

“Often I Have this sense that the magic of Enspiral is seen more around the world than in Wellington. So, for me this award, presented amongst my Wellington peers, re-welcomes Enspiral home from the world and celebrates the world-class new thinking and initiatives that we have been creating from here to the world.”

It also reaffirms Massey University’s connections with the city’s business community as an active and engaged stakeholder offering opportunities for the importance of ventures like Enspiral to be acknowledged – a fact recognised by Ms Zuur too.

“It’s easy to feel like one in a million in larger cities around the world. Wellington seems to have this perfect size balance. Big enough to be entertaining and interesting and diverse, but small enough to feel connected and supported.”

Massey University student services director and former Wellington campus registrar Deanna Riach says the award reinforces the collegial support offered by the University to stakeholders in the city such as Ms Zuur and Enspiral.

“Just as creativity is at the heart of thinking for social entrepreneurs like Enspiral, it is also a key driver of teaching, research and the development of relationships within the city’s business community that Massey University values.”

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