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Joint initiative to support Māori entrepreneurs in Northland

October 21, 2019

Northland Inc, the regional economic development agency, and Auckland University of Technology (AUT) are pooling their resources to launch a business accelerator programme aimed at enhancing Māori entrepreneurship.

Te Kōrau weaves Māori perspectives and values in, to focus on building entrepreneurial capability and validating sustainable business ideas. The pilot programme will run in the Hokianga region on Northland’s west coast, with more planned to follow during early 2020.

“The programme will help to equip aspiring entrepreneurs in Northland with the insights, relationships, and tools needed to turn ideas into action and develop a passion into a sustainable, thriving business,” said Joseph Stuart, General Manager, Business Innovation and Growth at Northland Inc.

“There’s no shortage of ideas, or entrepreneurially-minded people with the potential or drive to make those ideas happen in Northland. What is lacking is a support system for people who are at an early stage with their business or business idea, a framework that will nurture, develop and accelerate that potential.

“People have dabbled in trying to correct that situation, but until now there’s been no focused programme to support or invigorate Māori entrepreneurship when you are just starting out. Te Kōrau will help to bridge what has become a huge gap in our region. It will play an important foundational role in building entrepreneurial capability and stimulating the creation of new businesses.”

Te Kōrau is the first Māori contextualised version of the global CO.STARTERS programme, which boasts an impressive track record. AUT has been running CO.STARTERS since 2016 and, during that time, the programme has built up budding entrepreneurs through to the wider business community. The programme forms an essential part of AUT’s strategy, aimed at strengthening support for students to start their own businesses and develop an entrepreneurial mind-set.

“Collaborating with AUT on this programme is the perfect fit for us; it’s exciting because it’s something we’ve been looking to do for a while now,” Stuart added. “We don’t have a strong university research base here in Northland, and the breadth of AUT’s networks – it is New Zealand’s second biggest university – and its extensive entrepreneurial engagement will undoubtedly be something we can tap into. AUT’s support in delivering this programme will be invaluable.”

Stuart explained that the partnership involves plans to train a group of local facilitators and community champions who would help deliver Te Kōrau in the future and assist in getting businesses off the ground. “This project really ticks all the boxes for us and aligns perfectly with our desire to build stronger cohorts and create positive outcomes for Māori businesses and entrepreneurs, which is one of our key strategic focus areas.”

In the short term, he added, the immediate objectives of the initiative were to expand personal capacity for generating ideas, to broaden individual perceptions of market opportunities, and to build a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem through collaboration rather than competition by working alongside existing networks, communities and services.

“Ultimately, we want to grow Māori enterprises and increase the number of SME’s in the region that can scale into medium and large-sized businesses while, at the same time, enhancing the attractiveness of Northland as a place to live and work.”

An introductory workshop will be held at Rawene Town Hall on Thursday, 24 October (5-7pm). The pilot programme is set to take place at Pa Te Aroha Marae over the weekends of 16 November and 6 December.

For more information or to register, visit www.tekorau.co.nz.


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