An initiative to help Kiwis gain the confidence and knowledge to pursue their business and social enterprise building dreams kicks off today, the first iteration of what is set to become an annual campaign to help build Aotearoa New Zealand’s entrepreneurial capital.

Dubbed “Startup Spring” the campaign organised by online magazine, NZ Entrepreneur, will see 160 grassroots entrepreneurs nationwide receive 12 months free entrepreneur training and support to help them identify, assess and begin work on their new ventures.

Under the scheme successful applicants will each receive a scholarship enabling them to enrol in and complete the online Startup NZ Entrepreneurs Programme for free. Participants will be able to access the programme’s online lessons, a mix of video, text, self assessments and exercises designed to prepare first time entrepreneurs for the rigours of starting a business. Weekly online Zoom support sessions are available for participants, who can complete the programme at their own pace from their home, school or workplace.

Scholarships are funded by NZ Entrepreneur and supporters of NZ Entrepreneur from within the startup ecosystem and the platform’s founder and editor Richard Liew says he hopes the campaign will inspire more business-led social impact initiatives.

Speaking from Auckland on the eve of the campaign, he says entrepreneurship was a “non-negotiable skill set” for navigating turbulent times.

“The only constant is change. And right now the world is experiencing a perfect storm of economic, societal, technological, environmental and geo-political changes which are only making it more important for all people to be able to think and create value like an entrepreneur when they need to,” he said.

The Startup NZ Entrepreneurs Programme was launched by Liew in late 2019 and according to him was “inundated” shortly after when New Zealand experienced the first of its COVID-19 lockdowns in early 2020. 1200 New Zealanders have taken advantage of the programme’s free starter lessons with 300 participating in the full programme.

Liew says some supporters of the campaign within the business community have been quick to get in behind the idea but says the business community “could be doing a lot more” to develop and upskill its future generations of NZ business leaders.

One such supporter is John Robson, head of the New Zealand arm of global venture capital company Bridgewest Ventures who commended the initiative.

“As an entrepreneur, you are always learning; you really don’t know what you don’t know when you start, and programmes like this are essential in preparing a new founder for the journey into the unknown. Every founder should run hard at this and suck up as much support as they can, as these first small steps today will enable them to more quickly run at the required velocity to escape the gravity well of New Zealand to go global,” said Robson.

Applications now open

Applications for Startup Spring scholarships open online from today at and close on December 31st. Successful applicants will be notified and provided full access to the programme as and when scholarships are accepted.

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