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'As a young person, I started learning about some of the big social and environmental issues'

Guy Ryan, founder and CEO of New Zealand charity Inspiring Stories joined Purposely Podcast to share his founder story

Guy talked about the challenges faced by the young people they set out to help:

‘We help young people who have lived with or have overcome significant adversity. They face challenges in their communities including drugs, gangs and violence, sometimes multi- generational welfare dependency. There is also the impacts of colonization and unemployment.’

We also talked about the aims of Inspiring Stories:

‘We set up inspiring stories with a big bold vision to see every young New Zealander unleash their potential to change the world.’

As a young person, I started learning about some of the big social and environmental issues in our world. I found that really confronting. The huge inequality that exists in our world, the challenges around climate change. At the same time, I could see all this incredible creativity, passion potential of young people around me, and I just thought, you know, imagine, if every young New Zealander could unleash their potential to change the world, what would it take to make that happen?

‘To be able to feel like change is possible, more than ever…and having relatable examples of role models and people who are demonstrating incredible leadership and actually driving real change in lots of different circles and then pathways to support them’

Guy Ryan grew up in Granity – a tiny town on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. After finishing High School his passion for adventure and surfing took him to Otago University, where he completed a double degree in Commerce and Design, and then a Masters in Science Communication. It was at University he discovered his passion for entrepreneurship – from trying to build tech company, to creating an adventure festival, to co-founding a film production company and winning international awards for filmmaking. In 2010 he co-directed and produced a film called Carving the Future, a 25-minute documentary about four young New Zealanders taking action on climate change and environmental issues.

Building on the lessons of previous ventures and the success of the film Carving the Future, Guy founded Inspiring Stories in 2011, initially winning a ‘World of Difference’ scholarship from the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation. The next few years would become a whirlwind adventure of developing and testing programmes, partnerships, and building the organisation into the phenomenal force it is today.

However it wasn’t without it’s challenges:

‘I come from a tiny little rural community, I don't come from any wealth and lacked significant credibility. As a young person with a big bold vision I was trying to knock on doors… it was honestly really challenging. People and organizations wouldn't take me seriously, they wouldn't give us the time of day… not even a chance to share what we were thinking. It took a long time to build street cred, you know, which inevitably can lead to a bit of resourcing and support to make things happen.’

What they do today:

Their Festival for the Future attracts 1,200+ people annually. Their Future Leaders programme is changing lives for a diverse range of young people in New Zealand’s rural and provincial communities. Through The Impact Awards, they’ve awarded thiusands to support New Zealand’s most driven and inspiring young social entrepreneurs.


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