PGF helps grow InnoNative Economy

Sept. 16, 2019, 3:06 p.m.

InnoNative Economy has been providing opportunities for small Māori businesses to grow for the last few years and after recently receiving a portion of the Provincial Growth Fund has plans to expand nationally.

InnoNative, which houses a pop-up stall, online sales and a co-sharing work space was set up as a collaborative initiative for Māori to become more involved in the local economy as entrepreneurs.

CEO for InnoNative Raewyn Tipene said the aim is to help companies increase their productivity as suppliers to a local market.  

“We want our whānau to think how best they can be involved in the economy apart from just consumers. We don't want them to think they have to have a million dollar idea, you can have little ideas and still do well.

“Helping them to increase their productivity to 50-100,000 off their block, not millions, something they can cope with and handle.  Our retail area has about 70 people supplying into that and it’s enough for them to make a few hundred dollars a month to help them out.

“That's the kind of stuff we are talking about.   It doesn't have to be huge, high risk and we work collectively and we’re moving forward together,” Tipene said.

Native XP, a tourism initiative, Kaianuku Organics and IT hub N-Gen are three successful businesses running from InnoNative with N-Gen recently granted funding to grow their educational space.

“N-Gen is the last of our projects and it wasn't the one we expected to get funded first,”  Tipene said.

“The idea was to increase the number of Māori in IT so we can have an impact in the technical area because everything has a technical base now, even on the land.  There aren't enough Māori in the IT industry.”

The fund will help educate a programme for 20 young people who have an interest in IT around all aspects of coding, robotics, AI, data and content creation.

“The idea is if you’ve got an interest, we will show you what's available...then we’re going to specialise in those areas, then we will start making products and creating a portfolio so they can go into a level five programme for higher learning or direct into employment in the tech area.”

The next area of growth for InnoNative Economy is the expansion and roll out of the retail store to various areas around Aotearoa.

“We want to increase exposure for our people, our whānau, our artists outside of Whangārei.  We’re looking at purchasing a space in Waitangi and Paihia so we’ve got a constant presence in the bay of islands.  

“We’re also looking at whether it's a possibility for our whanau to grow bananas in a plantation to make a little bit more money for their block so those things are on the boil right now.

“I hope our whānau can become future self-sustaining so they don’t have to work those hard jobs, 9-5 theres other money coming in and other ways to make revenue for yourselves.”

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