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Emerge Aotearoa Celebrates The Generator’s Success With Inspirational Expo

A highly successful initiative that assists people to start their own businesses and decrease their dependency on government support is celebrating with a sensational expo on 15 and 16 March at Ngā Tohu o Uenuku/Māngere Arts Centre.

The Generator Expo & Fashion Fix will include two days of entertainment, fashion and food, all produced by businesses that have received seed funding and support from The Generator. The event will also feature the presentation of $30,000 worth of Visa Innovation Fund grants to help some of the businesses scale up to the next level. (Details of recipients are below).

The business owners are mostly Māori and Pasifika entrepreneurs who are using their skills and talents to support their whānau. The innovative businesses are focused on everything from catering and fashion design to vehicle mechanics and food production. Guests at the expo will include MPs Paulo Garcia, Helen White, and Lemauga Lydia Sosene.

Emerge Aotearoa Group Chief Executive John Cook said, “The Generator has been so successful. We are just delighted to see the impact it has had on improving outcomes for people in our communities.”

“Through The Generator’s work, we are seeing more and more people either significantly reducing their reliance on a benefit or coming completely off it. The additional support provided by Visa will go a long way to supporting the businesses to further grow and improve the owners’ livelihoods.”

The Generator, which is funded by the Ministry of Social Development, was pioneered by Emerge Aotearoa in collaboration with Vaka Tautua. Starting in 2019, it aimed to provide mentorship and seed funding to Kiwis experiencing financial hardship, but who had the drive and ambition to build their own business.

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More than 1700 kiwis in hardship are now working towards better futures thanks to the support of The Generator and over $3 million in seed funding has been released since its launch. As a result, 70 per cent of participants report an increase in their financial wellbeing, with two thirds saying they are no longer on a benefit, have moved off it, or are reducing their benefit. Ninety per cent of those funded are still actively managing their businesses.

Anthony Watson, Country Manager, Visa New Zealand and South Pacific, said: “Visa celebrates the achievements of Māori and Pasifika entrepreneurs through the Visa Innovation Fund, highlighting their exceptional talent and resilience. These individuals exemplify what’s possible, fostering a better future for themselves, their communities, and contributing to a thriving New Zealand economy. It’s fantastic to see their talents realised and unleashed, and we look forward to following their success.”

The four applicants granted full Visa funding of $6000 are Danielle Adams (Adams Family Productions, Kaiwaka); Nikita Ball (Nails on Wheels NZ, South Auckland); TK Taito (TK Bridal & Couture, South Auckland); and Viliami Tomu and Kaloline Kaufusi (V Town Shiloh Gardens, South Auckland). Three additional recipients were also granted Visa funding. They include Tavita Salu (Tavita & Sons Automotive, Whangārei); Latisha Slade (In First NZ, Whangārei); and Lloyd Matiu-Whiri (V1BEZ100, Dargaville).

Recipients Viliami Tomu and Kaloline Kaufusi said, “We are very appreciative of The Generator as it has enabled us to expand our gardens and include a greater variety of produce. The price of imported island kai is prohibitive for many but we can grow and sell it here at a much more reasonable price. We also donate some of our kai to people in hardship and the elderly.”

Seven businesses have also been granted funding through The Generator Growth (Response) Fund. They are: Tavita Salu (Tavita & Sons Automotive, Whangārei); Amber Freer (POLY-NIZED, Paparoa); Edgardo Buenvenida (Edgardo’s Grill, Christchurch); Israel Rika (All Aspects Concreting Experts, Whakatāne/Kawerau); Lameez Salie (Meezies Kitchen, Hamilton); Rata Raemon Twogood Taiwhanga (Etu Rakau, South Auckland); Val Jefferson and daughter Amy (Nia’s Beauty Room by Amy, Dargaville).

“All of the recipients are determined, talented, start-up entrepreneurs using their skills and talents to create livelihoods and better futures for themselves and their whānau,” The Generator’s National Manager Therese Ireland said.

To be eligible for the funding, the businesses needed to demonstrate they had put financial and business processes in place to successfully establish their enterprise; were making a profit and were now ready to scale up or modify their enterprise to increase income and wellbeing, or reduce costs; and were making a positive impact on their community. A panel of experts considered all proposals and financial statements, and met with applicants to hear about their businesses and plans for growth.

Tickets to The Generator Expo and Fashion Fix, can be purchased here: https://bit.ly/48Th3uR

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