A woman who founded a social enterprise energy company at the age of 22 says she hopes her business expands and benefits more community initiatives.
Hamiltonian Kelly Johnson founded Her Energy as a means of benefiting organisations leading women’s initiatives in Waikato and now Auckland.
It has seen her make the YWCA's inaugural Y25 list, which celebrates 25 young women under 25 who are future leaders in their fields.
“Coming out of university I knew I wanted to work in social enterprise and I knew I wanted to focus on having a purpose on everything I wanted to do,” she told Jessie Mulligan.
“I was very fortunate that I had the opportunity to intern at with a tech firm in Hamilton and they had basically created this technology that had automated electricity retail and the technology itself is incredible and I was very fortunate to be in that position."
Her firm is benefiting its clients as it creates profits that are funnelled back into the organisations its serves.
“I proposed that we take that technology and use it to create this sort of social enterprise power company… I’m a young woman and those causes are close to my heart and I think there are some things that need a little bit of support and it’s great to get into a position where we can provide more impact for smaller initiatives.”
She spent months researching the industry before embarking on the project, which involved looking at the market and which community initiatives should benefit from the project.
“It’s not something I think a lot of people know about and I definitely didn’t before coming into it. While the industry can be quite complex, it can also be simplified. I know that’s one of the things that, when I talk to people, I get that response.
“It was a huge learning experience, but I’ve definitely demystified a lot of stuff I previously didn’t know about and it’s important that we increase the awareness around that. I'm big on having these conversations with the customers... I have had to do a lot of explaining.”
Creating a customer based was not a complex task, with traditional methods of meeting potential clients and explaining what you could offer them paying dividends.
“I initially started this whole thing by reaching out to a number of organisations in the area, women’s organisations and I was very lucky that these people were willing to give me the time of day, have a coffee and have a conversation with me.”
There is still a lot to achieve and she is looking forward to changing the electricity retail landscape as the business progresses, while benefiting the organisations she caters to.
“We have a long way to go before we are fully established. We’re in our first year and a start-up can be a test-run for everyone, so we are making sure all of our processes are in place and we’re really well established.
“We want to ensure we have our relationships in place with the community, that we can grow and keep things as personal as possible and from there on I just want to establish Her Energy as a company for people and keep that community-based option, and as we extend throughout New Zealand get on board more initiatives from different areas.
“For me the focus is on almost acting like a funnel for initiatives and charities, so we get money going back to those initiatives. I’m very excited about that.”