Minnie Baragwanath

BLAKE Leader 2013

Leader in Social Change & Disability; Chief Executive, Be. Institute – ‎Be. Accessible.

Minnie Baragwanath has been a leader in driving social change over the last 15 years, for New Zealanders with disabilities. Minnie is Chief Executive and founder of the Be. Institute, a social enterprise that aims to work across all sectors and communities throughout New Zealand to change attitudes and break down barriers.

Undaunted by a rare eye condition that has impaired her own sight, Minnie brings her personal experience to her impassioned mission and with genuine compassion and drive has ensured tangible change in people’s lives.

A naturally positive leader, Minnie seeks to change perceptions by referring to “accessibility” rather than “disability”, about possibility rather than limitation, and about innovation rather than the status quo. With a visionary and collaborative approach, she has dedicated herself to the dream of a 100% accessible New Zealand.

Minnie’s point of difference is that in an extraordinarily fragmented sector, she has mobilised a number of organisations to work together. Leveraging off international models and adapting them in a New Zealand context, Minnie has led the charge in re-positioning the sector from a focus on disability to a focus on ability. Backed by the New Zealand Government, Be. Accessible has received funding to encourage businesses to improve accessibility.