Charity Begins At Work

As I explained recently, iwantmyname has just completed a decade in business. Like most tech companies, we had our ups and downs. But one thing we never lost sight of was that we wanted to do social good, once the company was in a position to help others.

Clean Water

Our initial strategy simply involved showing up to tech meet ups and hackathons around town and volunteering our time to help out. I was a mentor at the very first Startup Weekend ever held in New Zealand and have helped organise many events since then. Our co-founder Lenz has been a facilitator at Startup Weekends for a few years now and has become somewhat of a startup midwife, helping to give birth to a bunch of new ventures. We also provided funding to get Startup Weekends launched in Bali.

Eventually we were in a position to provide sponsorships more widely. So we started thinking about how we could help support social enterprises around the world that aligned with our values. This led us to declare that we would set aside 10 cents from every domain registration and renewal annually. That figure added up over the years, I’m pleased to say.

One of the areas we have been especially active in involves supporting charities assisting with tropical cyclone disaster recovery in the Pacific Ocean region. With the impact of climate change, there seems no let up in storm disasters and often it is children that are impacted the most. We have also placed a heavy focus on projects involving water sanitation and security, because access to clean water is one of the most basic human rights. This led us to support some amazing water projects in Bali as well as in Vanuatu.

We were most interested to receive news from our friends at UNICEF recently about progress with the upgrading of water and sanitation across schools in Vanuatu, an initiative we backed in 2017. As the programme was about to get underway, there was a huge volcanic eruption forcing the entire population of the island of Ambae to be relocated. Suddenly the more immediate problem for UNICEF aid workers became how to address water and sanitation for displaced people now living in tent villages on neighbouring islands. Fortunately considerable progress has been made with improving the water infrastructure. Now a health education programme is underway to ingrain good hygiene habits and reduce the incidence of communicable diseases.

Sometimes other important opportunities randomly crossed our path. For example we’ve assisted with funding Orca research after our team visit to Vancouver Island and this month we backed a campaign to support an individual in need of assistance after a shocking accident that led to a burn injury. There was also the workshop aimed at lifting skill levels among Bangladeshi women developers to help them secure better incomes.

In case you think this is about blowing our trumpet - yes it is! But let me explain why. At iwantmyname we firmly believe corporations of all shapes and sizes have a responsibility to their shareholders and employees to do good in the world. Although we are not a huge company, we like to think that in some small way, we set an example for others to follow.

Photo credit: UNICEF New Zealand