Budding Māori entrepreneurs and business start-ups are in line for a major boost with the help of a Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (TWoA) led business accelerator programme.

TWoA has partnered with Callaghan Innovation, the government’s business innovation agency, and industry leaders* in the Māori economy to deliver the programme called ‘Kōkiri’.

The four-month programme, developed and designed alongside key stakeholders, focuses on entrepreneurs and business start-ups that meet the criteria of having globally-focused business ideas and high-growth potential.

Kōkiri is aimed at speeding up the process of getting these business ideas into the market and investment-ready.

The programme, which starts in February 2018, is a mix of five in-residence workshops where teams are brought to the Waikato for training by industry leaders, supported by mentoring, coaching, and access to industry professionals in the participant’s home regions.  Applications officially open on October 2nd.

Up to 10 successful teams will receive mentoring from leading business figures, education and networking opportunities before they pitch their ideas to prospective investors in a Dragons Den-type setting in June 2018.

They will also receive financial assistance to enable them to focus solely on their business ideas during the programme.

Aisha Ross, who is Director Innovation and Development for TWoA, said the partnership with government and industry to aid Māori entrepreneurs and start-ups to develop and advance their businesses was a first.

The accelerator programme is funded under the Te Pūnaha Hiringa Māori Innovation Fund administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Aisha said pivotal to the success of TWoA gaining support from Government was our organisation’s ability to leverage our strong relationships in particular with Creative HQ, Robett Hollis, Crowe Horwath and EY Tahi who are significant partners in the journey.

“The industry figures we are engaging with on this programme have been selected because of their experience in delivering successful and recognised business accelerator programmes,” said Aisha.

“They also have a track record of successfully engaging with Māori participants.”

Aisha says the aims of Kōkiri aligned with TWoA’s mission of tauira success.

He says TWoA was the optimal provider for the programme having already produced hundreds of small business graduates who had established successful businesses.

The official launch of Kōkiri was held recently at Matariki Xponential 2017, and a roadshow is currently underway with up-to-date information found on the Kōkiri Facebook page www.facebook.com/kokiribiz.

For more information, please go to www.kokiri.biz where you can register as a mentor or participant, or contact Ian Musson (Kōkiri Programme Manager) ian.musson@twoa.ac.nz

Facebook – www.facebook.com/kokiribiz

Twitter – www.twitter.com/kokiri_biz

Instagram – www.instagram.com/kokiribiz

* The Kōkiri partnership consists of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Poutama, Callaghan Innovation, Creative HQ, Crowe Horwath, Robett Hollis and Ernst & Young Tahi.