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Start-up Programme Success

25 jobseekers just graduated from the startup-support programme Start Me Up after completing a highly-focused seven-week business accelerator programme. 

Launched earlier this year, the programme is a part of ChristchurchNZ’s and Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) effort to give residents of Greater Christchurch, Selwyn and Ashburton whose employment was impacted by COVID-19 a fresh kickstart in their career through starting a business.

The region-wide call to action resulted in the participation of over 120 residents in the online course. 25 participants were then selected into the next phase which was a deep-dive seven-week accelerator programme designed to take their ideas to the next stage. 

The programme culminated with a graduation ceremony where the accelerator participants had the chance to celebrate their success with fellow participants, friends and whānau. 

Having gone through the programme and received tremendous support from the partners involved, participants agreed that the programme succeeded in helping them make meaningful progress in their business.

At the graduation ceremony, $15,000 worth of prizes were also awarded to businesses that showed potential. The rewards were given for businesses with Best innovation, Best Social Impact, Best Market Potential, and Best Scalability. Each is worth $3750 which can be used to purchase equipment and items they need for their business. 

In addition, ten teams were selected to each receive a free 12-month access to the Business Mentors NZ; another ten teams also each received a membership to the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce. MSD will also provide Flexi-wage funding to suitable businesses based on the quality of their business plan.

The teams that received prizes are:

Best innovation

  • Midnight Mint: The Midnight Mint aims to be a high-tech end-to-end manufacturer of quality high-resolution small metal components and manufacturing services
  • Business owner: Janet McGregor

Best Social Impact

  • Our Hauora: Holistic child development programme that helps children with physical, mental/emotional, spiritual and social needs. 
  • Business owner: Ella Sidey

Best Market Potential

  • Badass Brownies: Sell delicious low allergen chocolate brownies and help disenfranchised women to get work experience to get back to workforce
  • Business owner: Hannah Airey

Best Scalability

  • ShareStay: Marketplace that facilitates the actual experience of staying in the home, or renting your space to a guest, for an agreed price based on a fair share of the cost of running the household.
  • Business owner: Julian Bell

“For Clever Little Bees, the Start Me Up Programme has been an incredible experience. Start Me Up has given me a new skill set as well as confidence and belief that I can create a successful business doing something that I am extremely passionate about.”, said Kathryn Jer, founder of Hive Mind Education, an after school programme to teach beekeeping to primary school aged students.

“I have, as a result, started turning my ideas into reality and now have secured a community hub and primary school as venues for my after-school apiculture course. I would never have considered beginning a new career without the guidance and support from the Start Me Up team.”

“When informed that I was selected for the 25 person class, I was so happy that I actually cried a little. I’ve faced some really tough life stuff and have been knocked back over and over. I made a decision that I was going to form a company at the start of the year, but was aware that I had gaps in my kiti.” says Joseph Chapman, owner of PRO-Property Maintenance. 

“The great leadership and support from the facilitators equipped us with all essential skills and knowledge we needed to get our businesses started. Thank you for believing in me, for the encouragement and for the door you’ve helped open for me to enter into. This is life changing for me and my kids.”

Boyd Warren ChristchurchNZ General Manager Headshot

Congratulations to all the participants, your mahi has been impressive. It takes guts to start a business but I hope the support and knowledge shared by the local business community, mentors and start-up experts has given you the confidence to follow your passions. It is businesses such as yours which help to fuel our economy, create jobs and build a more sustainable city for future generations.” 

Boyd Warren General Manager – Innovation and Business Growth at ChristchurchNZ

“MSD strongly supports this initiative, because we recognise that while we can’t deliver the full self-employment pathway for people on our own, we are able to be there as a supportive mechanism for organisations that are assisting start-up businesses at each step along the way,” says Diane McDermott, Regional Commissioner MSD Canterbury.

“Seeing the strategic support, not only around the business plan but also through mentoring entrepreneurs as they move forward to attain their business aspirations, is the aspect that will make the difference for these participants. It’s pleasing to see the diversity of business plans coming through from the graduates.

“MSD is focussed on ensuring that all participants of the Start Me Up programme, whether of the on-line and/or the accelerator programme, will continue to get the support needed to progress in their self-employment journey.”

Start Me Up is delivered through a partnership with the Ministry of Social Development and ChristchurchNZ, and delivered by startup hub Ministry of Awesome, incubator ThincLab at the University of Canterbury’s Business School, and Prosper Professional Coaching. 

The programme also receives backing from Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, Te Puni Kōkiri, Ashburton District Council, Selwyn District Council, Business Mentors NZ and Westpac.

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