Nisa wins inaugural 'What's your impact?' competition



Nisa, a social enterprise that supports women refugees coming to New Zealand to find jobs, has won $25K worth of ImpactLab’s GoodMeasure impact measurement service in BDO and ImpactLab’s inaugural ‘What’s your impact?’ competition for Not-for-Profits and for-purpose organisations.

Nisa is an ethical underwear swimwear and activewear label that provides employment opportunities to people from refugee and migrant backgrounds in their Wellington workshop.

Nisa’s dream is to build an alumni of 100 former employees who go on to inspire their own communities and start their own businesses.

For Elisha Watson, the founder of Nisa, success is not just providing a first job in New Zealand, but in providing a first step in a long career:

“I was blown away by the calibre of the other finalists and winning the competition makes me feel like I can stand shoulder to shoulder with them. I’m really proud that we were the only social enterprise among the competition finalists and I hope this inspires other people to use social enterprise as a new way to improve the lives of the people around them. The ImpactLab report will help us grow in the right ways and impact the lives of more people.”

Sir Bill English, Lisa King and BDO judge competition winner

The live online judging panel took place yesterday, February 23, where competition judges Sir Bill English (ImpactLab founder), Lisa King (Eat My Lunch founder), Henry McClintock (Not-for-Profit Lead, BDO) and Justin Martin (Advisory Partner, BDO) heard from the top five competition finalists, as well as shared their own insights and advice for the Not-for-Profit sector.

The judges chose Nisa to win the competition from the top 5 finalists due to their impressive interventions to date in improving job opportunities for refugees and migrants. The judges felt that an impact report could highlight a different model that government and other organisations could use to provide opportunities and change the lives of more refugees.  

Sir Bill English said: “The effects of an ImpactLab report for Nisa will be significant. The employment rate for refugees and migrants coming to New Zealand is very low and while governments have tried to intervene in this, progress has been slow.

If Elisha can show the significant impact she is having on improving job opportunities for migrants through a detailed ImpactLab GoodMeasure report, she will be able to prove a major point to government and other organisations about the effectiveness of her model in improving outcomes for migrants. This should in turn increase hope and opportunity that this can be replicated for the thousands of migrants and refugees that come to our shores in the hope of a better life.”

Lisa King said: “I love that Nisa is a social enterprise. Elisha’s story showed that businesses can make a huge impact - they’ve got a really practical solution to a very significant problem and I’m really looking forward to seeing how Nisa scales their impact through use of the GoodMeasure report.”

Nisa will now work with ImpactLab over the next six to nine months to produce a GoodMeasure impact report, which will quantify the organisation’s social impact and put a social return on investment figure on the work that they do. This in turn will help Elisha better fulfil Nisa’s strategic vision, and as ImpactLab puts it, do good better.

Growing market understanding of the need to measure impact

This is the first time BDO has run the ‘What’s your impact?’ competition in conjunction with ImpactLab.

“We work with a lot of Not-for-Profits and for-purpose organisations, and know how difficult it has been for them to put solid data behind their impact,” says Henry McClintock, BDO’s Not-for-Profit Lead. “But funders are increasingly driven by data and the organisations themselves can only truly achieve their strategic vision if they have a solid understanding of their impact. We hope to grow market understanding of how to go about this through the competition.”

Justin Martin, Advisory Partner, BDO said: “It was great to see so many people from the Not-for-Profit and for-purpose sector, including several key funders, tuning in to the event – it really highlights the importance of impact measurement and good data driving the sector.

It was also encouraging to see some organisations that were not specifically Not-for-Profit viewing the panel too – with so many businesses focussing on ESG nowadays, impact reporting is soon going to be a central focus for any organisation that wants to tell their ESG story better, and BDO is already working with a number of businesses that are doing this.”

Our five finalists:

Nisa was one of five finalists (chosen from over 40 competition entrants) to present about their impact journeys and how better understanding their impact will help them change more lives.

“All our finalists did an amazing job and it was a real pleasure listening to them speak,” says Lisa. “They are doing incredible things for Kiwis across Aotearoa and it was a really difficult choice picking our winner.”

The other finalists were:

  • Friendship House Trust - Friendship House has worked in South Auckland for 40 years, primarily in the farmily harm space and violence prevention programmes for male perpetrators of family harm.
  • Hōhepa Canterbury - Hōhepa Canterbury is a well-established provider of services and support to people with an intellectual disability and/or autism.
  • Arthritis New Zealand - Arthritis New Zealand aims “to improve the life of every person affected by arthritis”. It is a national charity that provides information, advice and support to people diagnosed with any of the more than 140 forms of arthritis.
  • Sisters of Compassion - For more than a century the Sisters of Compassion have taught, nursed, and provided homes for children, the sick and the elderly in New Zealand and the South Pacific. The sisters are committed to delivering “compassionate care” throughout the community by providing meals, food, and basic needs to those who have very little, caring for the elderly, and providing individual and family support. They seek to bring dignity to the lives of the aged, the powerless and the poor.