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"Shared Vision" Brings Māori Startups Together

Highly contested business accelerator, Tupu, welcomed its inaugural cohort of Māori founders last week, kicking off its ten-week programme to drive sustainable growth for Māori businesses.

Inaugural Purapura (Founders) of the Tupu accelerator at the first wānanga last Friday (Photo Supplied)

Developed by Tapuwae Roa, in partnership with Sprout Agritech, the accelerator onboarded eleven teams of aspiring pakihi Māori (Māori businesses) from an initial applicant pool of over 300.

"The response to Tupu has exceeded our expectations, and it was an honour to receive so many applications from rakahinonga (Māori entrepreneurs) across the motu who have bold aspirations to take their pakihi to the next level," says Te Pūoho Kātene, Kaihautū of Tapuwae Roa.

Shortlisted teams were invited to participate in a two-day wānanga to pitch their business for selection on the programme with successful applicants officially onboarded as Purapura (Māori founders) at the accelerator’s inaugural launch on Friday.

Delivered from April to June, the accelerator will coach Purapura with the essential tools, mentorship, and resources to grow their businesses from grassroots to global, culminating in a capstone showcase.

Member of the inaugural cohort and founder of Toi Tī, Timmy Smith (Whakatōhea), hopes the accelerator will assist her in forming an innovative herbal tea offering from waste streams of traditional horticultural and viticultural production.

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"There are thousands of pakihi Māori who deserve to have this level of wrap-around support and manaaki of their concepts and companies. I will do everything I can to honour having been selected into Tupu Accelerator by utilising all the taonga and mātauranga that this programme has to offer."

Fellow Purapura and CEO of Mīti, Daniel Carson (Ngāi Tahu), believes Tupu’s focus on impact is what sets it apart from other accelerator programmes.

"When we first found out about Tupu, I was unsure how this accelerator was going to be different from others on offer apart from the focus on Māori entrepreneurship," says Carson.

"Participating in the first wānanga it quickly became apparent that we were surrounded by a cohort that shared our values of balancing people, planet, and profit. We are honoured to be selected and excited to continue the mahi."

Hanna Ngatai (Ngāti Porou), founder of Taurus Concrete is excited to join the Tupu cohort and participate in a business programme that is uniquely by Māori for Māori.

"To be surrounded by other entrepreneurs and founders who are on a similar journey to us is an invaluable experience. The way Māori view the world and business is unique; it is great to be in an atmosphere of shared vision."

To find out more about Tupu, or to read more about the cohort, visit:

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