Kōkiri is the name of New Zealand’s very first government-supported business accelerator programme for Māori, and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is looking for 10 Māori entrepreneurs or business startups to take part.
The accelerator programme starts in February 2018 and aims to nourish globally-focused business ideas that have high-growth potential, speeding up processes of getting ideas to market and getting ready for investment.
“Māori are unique and innovative, and therefore we anticipate a wide range of ideas being submitted for Kōkiri. Our scope for startup businesses is wide, so whether your venture supports iwi, or you believe there is an opportunity in the market to develop a new piece of technology we want to hear from you,” the Kōkiri website explains.
“Kōkiri is a three-month, mentor-intensive, business acceleration programme that has been specifically developed as a hybrid of best practice business accelerator models and values and principles within te ao Māori.”
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa’s director of innovation and development, Aisha Ross, says the partnership brings together industry and government to help Māori with their business plans.
“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. “They also have a track record of successfully engaging with Māori participants,” Ross explains.
The ten chosen participants will receive mentoring from leading business leaders, education and networking opportunities, as well as a pitching round to investors in a setting similar to Dragon’s Den.
“Our aim is to grow Māori involvement in Aotearoa New Zealand's economy, and provide you with the platform to build sustainable business with the potential to go global,” the Kōkiri website continues.
To spread word about the programme, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa will be taking Kōkiri on a roadshow between September and October to attract interest and answer any questions about the accelerator program.
Applications open on October 2. Participants will be announced on December 1, and the programme starts in February 2018.
Kōkiri is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Te Pūnaha Hiringa Māori Innovation Fund.
The fund is also a partnership between Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Callaghan Innovation, Creative HQ, Crowe Horwath, Robert Hollis and Ernst & Young Tahi. Kōkiri is also looking for additional programme partners, mentors and investors.