10 Dec 2017

Start-up to foster Māori entrepreneurship

7:36 am on 10 December 2017

Ten Māori entrepreneurs have been given an opportunity to work with some of the country's most prominent business leaders.

Young man pointing at Startup concept over a tablet computer.

Photo: 123RF

A new start-up business accelerator, Kōkiri, will begin early next year to help Māori entrepreneurs turn their ideas into profitable businesses.

The four-month programme aims to get new Māori ventures market-ready with the help of business insights from partners MYOB, Air New Zealand and Spark.

The successful applicants will also get access to business workshops, investor groups, and co-working facilities.

Programme director Ian Musson said there was incredible potential.

"What they're doing has the potential to be scalable, to have global impacts, and as simple as that sounds you sit there in awe watching and thinking this kid or this person, they've got something really special and we know we're going to back a winner."

One of the requirement for the programme is that at least one member of each start-up team must identify as Māori.

Some of the business topics from the 10 participants next year included bilingual digital games, sign language education programmes, and medical cannabis production and distribution initiatives.

The programme was about increasing the representation of Māori within start-up communities and giving them a platform to express a Māori world view.

"The traditional perspective of a successful start-up business is that you build something, you scale it and you sell it, and while this is success it's really only success for the one person, effectively.

"We felt that Māori, as more of a collectivist culture, there's a desire to build communal outcomes and what I mean by that is the opportunity to create employment, to build whānau enterprises, or actually build an enterprise that is intergenerational."

MYOB New Zealand manager Carolyn Luey said start-ups were a great place to invest and Māori were underrepresented in the start-up community.

"By helping them through this accelerator programme, we can help give them the right tools to help them become more successful and get their ideas to market much faster."

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