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Small-town NZ The Winner In $500,000 Māori Ecommerce Scholarship Awards

A Māori ecommerce programme working with global online sales giant Shopify has handed out nearly $500,000 in scholarships to Māori students, with more than half going to small-town New Zealand.

A total of 65 scholarships worth $7500 each have been awarded for the 12-week Ka Hao i te Ao bootcamp in ecommerce and digital marketing, run by social enterprise Te Whare Hukahuka.

Te Whare Hukahuka CEO Travis O’Keefe said well over half the available scholarships had been awarded to applicants in smaller towns and rural New Zealand.

“We put more than $250,000 in scholarships where we know it will have the greatest impact – at home, in our smaller, harder-to-reach communities,” O’Keefe said.

He said scholarship candidates had been put through a challenging application process. It included five video and social media tasks designed to test candidates’ commitment to succeeding in ecommerce.

“We had more than 250 applicants,” O’Keefe said. “We took our time over selecting 65 scholarship recipients from Southland to the Far North and Australia who are a good fit for this intensive online bootcamp.”

Te Whare Hukahuka developed the programme as part of its mission to improve the lives of 10 million indigenous people. It has partnered with Shopify and Te Puni Kōkiri to offer $487,500 in scholarships for the online learning programme. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise also contributed toward scholarships for iwi and Māori businesses.

Scholarship winners range in age from 18 to 61. The programme requires participants to form and collaborate in virtual teams around the country and in Australia, where five scholarships have been awarded.

Recipients range from small business owners with bricks-and-mortar shops who want to develop an online presence, to budding entrepreneurs with a great ecommerce idea but no knowledge of the industry.

“Most of the scholarship recipients are owner-operators or small businesses, and we have a large number of creatives, including artists, poets, fashion designers, content creators and photographers, as well as strong representation from iwi organisations and Māori development professionals,” O’Keefe said.

“By the end of the 12 weeks, they will all have learnt the skills to have opened a Shopify store and be making money from it.

“Our aim is to enable anyone anywhere to become a digital entrepreneur and build economic prosperity for their families and communities.”

The programme starts on August 17, and will include a series of master classes from ecommerce experts around the world.

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