What's Up Wednesday

The Wellington Resilience Fund

Wellingtonians are all too aware that we’ve grown up on a faultline, and right at the edge of an unpredictable ocean. But despite this, we’re not always good at planning for disasters. Experiences of the Christchurch earthquakes made it clear that well-organised community groups are ideally suited to respond to a crisis.

More than this, coming together to ensure community resilience in the future can strengthen community ties today. That’s why the awesome team at the Nikau Foundation are putting together the Wellington Resilience Fund, money raised by the community, for the community.

We chatted to Matthew, part of the team behind the Nikau Foundation, to find out what makes this campaign so important.

1. Why do you think this campaign is important?

The Wellington Resilience Fund is a community-oriented response to threats we face. These could be earthquakes, climate change or financial crises. Some threats we don’t yet know about. These might occur over the next 20, 50 or 100 years. Contributions to the Resilience Fund are invested and the interest earned is paid as grants to community groups and projects every year, forever. So the Resilience Fund can address issues that we don’t even know about yet. Nikau Foundation makes giving to causes in Wellington easy.

Central and local government are focused on big infrastructure projects which will help the Wellington region get through a disaster. The Wellington Resilience Fund acknowledges that strong and connected communities, i.e. neighbourhoods, are important too. That’s why we want to support community access to water tanks and solar power.  We also want to support groups who encourage connection and preparedness like community gardens and predator free groups.

Everyone in the community can contribute to the Wellington Resilience Fund. Every contribution, large or small, will keep on giving year after year.

2. What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

We were approached by Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office (WREMO) to create a resilience fund. Nikau Foundation wanted to make the Wellington Resilience Fund a community fund. That means community raised funds to support community groups and projects. The more money that is raised, the more that can be granted back to our communities every year.

3. What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

We will be giving away one A3 artwork to someone that pledges for any reward. This will take place this week, the last week of our campaign.

We also want Wellingtonians to get prepared and connected at work. So we’re going to give away five bars of chocolate to people who tag their work on our Facebook post.

We’ve also had a generous donation which will enable us to put a community water tank into Upper Hutt’s Orongomai Marae this week. This is before our campaign has even ended. Everyday counts when it comes to resilience.

Our target of $20,000 will merely get the Wellington Resilience Fund started.  We will continue to raise funds because there is really no limit to what this fund could achieve.

We’re keen to work with businesses and their staff to contribute and also local schools. We’re developing badges that will show businesses and schools support the Wellington Resilience Fund. These will be available for use on websites, e-newsletters and print publications.

4. Anything you want to shout out to your crowd?

We’re so grateful to everyone who has pledged so far.

 It’s important for a region like Wellington to develop community resilience. This fund will serve the Wairarapa, Horowhenua and all points south to the Cook Strait. If you love and care for Wellington like we do, then get on board.

 Finally we really want to thank some key people. Mike Murphy OF Waihora Films shot our video. Peter Edge provided the narration. Wellington Mayor Justin Lester helped out too. Glenn and Shannon of the Wellington Photographic Society donated time and images. Brenda at BNZ Partners Centre, Dean at Foxplan and the teams at AMP Capital, Booster and AdCorp have been great. As have Dan at WREMO, Stephen Templer and the teams at Flight Coffee and Wellington Chocolate Factory. Thanks also to Survive-It, Predator-Free Island Bay, The Water Tank Guy, Pomegranate Kitchen, Scent Floral, Tindall Foundation, Women in Super, Westpac, WCC Social and PledgeMe.

To pledge to the Wellington Resilience Fund now, head over to their campaign right here.

Meet the Tā Koha Bunch

Meet the self-proclaimed “Tā Koha Bunch”! Social entrepreneurs and changemakers from across the Motu, who have chosen to be the pioneering Tā Koha campaigners. In the coming months they’ll be launching the first wave of Tā Koha crowdfunding campaigns, raising money  to bring their plans to life with the support of their whānau, iwi and wider crowds. So we thought you should get to know them, in advance.

At our first Tā Koha Akonga Matauranga learning wānanga three weeks ago, we dug deep together building the resources and laying out steps towards activating their crowds, designing their campaigns and sharing their stories. One thing that took me by surprise was the willingness to collaborate: learning from and blending ideas together, creating a kete of rewards for any of the bunch to tap into, making connections to iwi, potential customers and partners, amplifying each other’s social media strategies.From digital storytelling to fashion, from tourism to gaming, from food and drink to online social networks, from markerspaces to kaumatua community centres – they’re a well-blended bunch, but I was impressed to see how they could work together – how the “we” can rise high above the “me”. Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi.

Let’s meet the Tā Koha Bunch!

Adele Hauwai | Seecom

Kia ora koutou.  Nō Mohaka me Whatawhata ahau.  Ko Ngāti-Kahungunu me Tuhoe me Ngāti-Maniapoto ōku iwi.  

I am the CEO Founder for SeeCom, Reo-ā-Karu.  SeeCom is short for ‘See Communication’, visual communication.  We have gone innovative with designing digital sign language resources which is being translated into multiple sign languages to scale worldwide.  See the sign, hear the word, communicate with ease and fun!

Tā Koha has given great insights in terms of getting engaged with communities, prospective sales, & marketing strategies – for both Project Campaigns & Equity Campaigns.  

Chris Poipoi | Kiwi Kai Steam Puddings

Kia ora koutou. Raised in Rotorua, stemmed out of Ngati Kahungunu (Nuhaka), Ngati Porou and Ngati Whare.

“Kiwi Kai Steam Puddings are the best commercially produced pudding in New Zealand”

Judging panel 2017 New Zealand Food Awards

Kiwi Kai is now seeking investors to scale-up to expand throughout New Zealand and Australia.  

Privileged to be part of the inaugural Tā Koha pilot, we have already gained invaluable guidance as we prepare our campaign to be launched to the world.

Hemi Ratahi | Kīrehu Creative

Tēnā ra koutou

Ko Taupiri me Kohukohunui ōku maunga

Ko Waikato me Whakatīwai ōku awa

Ko Ngāti Mahuta rāua ko Ngāti Paoa ōku Iwi Hapu

Ko Hemi Ratahi ahau

Our taonga, maunga, awa and whenua are important to us as Māori. They underpin our identities; they sustain our whānau and give us a sense of belonging. However as we move away from our turangawaewae, or as our kaumatua and kuia get too old to walk their whenua we start to lose connection with the very things that we identify with. In this day and age it’s all too easy for us to get caught up in our lives and don’t go back and reconnect with our marae, hapu and Iwi. KĪREHU CREATIVE LTD has made this OUR MISSION so ‘let us take you home’. Through leading innovative technology like 360 camera, virtual, augmented and mixed realities and also drone technology we intend to  capture our taonga, our whenua, our sites of significance and with AR and VR present it back to whānau in a creative and interactive way that promotes engagement and reconnection. Our koro, kui and whānau overseas can experience whenua again rangatahi can engage with the tech and we would have achieved our collective goal to create connection and belonging.

Tā Koha has been the puha to my pork bones,  the cream to my steam pudding it has given us māori entrepreneurs a space to give it a real go and as we build our campaigns we build our crowds and for me they will be the measure of our success.

Jamie-Lee Raumati | Stay Connected

Kia ora koutou, No Tainui, Tuwharetoa,Te Rarawa me Ngai Te Rangi oku iwi.

My name is Jamie lee Raumati and I am the CEO/Founder of STAY CONNECTED.  At Stay Connected we work hard to assist our ladies all around the world in achieving their goals, dreams and life’s aspirations. We aim to be the number 1 platform for all women’s needs in New Zealand by 2019.

Tā Koha has given me an opportunity to expand my passion and dreams for Stay Connected to the next level  and be amongst like minded people who are passionate about what they do. Thank you Tā Koha.

Kelly Francis | Whenua Warrior

Ngati Wharara, Ngati Korokoro – Ngapuhi

Kia ora e te whanau, Ko Kelly toku ingoa, No Whenua Warrior ahau.  My name is Kelly and I have started a Charitable Trust named Whenua Warrior. We have a vision of every New Zealander with an edible organic garden and our mission is to feed the community, teach the community to feed themselves and empower them to feed each other.  I currently travel around Auckland and Northland building gardens to feed the communities.

I have learnt some valuable knowledge on campaigning and hope to use this when doing my crowd fund pledge.

‘He rongoa te kai, he kai te Rongoa’ – Our medicine is our food, our food is our medicine’

Lily Stender | Tolaga Bay Inn

Kia ora koutou, ko Tuwhakairiora te Tangata, Te noho kainga ki Uawa

Hi, I’m Lily one of the Trustees of our Tolaga Bay Inn Charitable Trust.  Our vision is to keep our history alive for future generations and our mission is to preserve our heritage by utilising the Inn as a vehicle for economic, social and cultural development.  We are collaborating with key organisations and companies to provide in-house training, employment and business incubation services, fostering tourism and digital technology development in our community.

I am thrilled to be part of the TaKoha bunch, pioneering our first Maori crowdfunding platform.

From personal experience, the usual financial institutions, banks, investors and funding agencies have been difficult to deal with, as their main focus is the Bottom line – MONEY, PROFIT and High yielding RETURNS.  Our outlook is more intergenerational and they fail to measure our qualities of whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, whakapapa, Tipuna… the main drivers of why we do what we do. Ta Koha is a collaborative, reciprocal approach which aligns with my own values of giving and receiving.

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari, takimano no aku tipuna. (Not by the might of one but the might of many from our ancestors to us.)

Manawa Udy | Ngahere Communities

Te Roro o te Rangi, Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau, Ngati Awa, Ngati Manawa

At Ngahere Communities we cultivate physical and virtual communities that enhance creativity and innovation, using collaborative spaces, common values and co-designed programmes.  Our first community – Ngahere Manukau – is launching in August 2018. A coworking and events space led by tikanga Māori, and polynesian flair.

The Tā Koha journey has given us a kete of insight and knowledge, allowing us to walk with financial confidence and to bring our whanau, friends, and their friends on the journey with us.

Joe Harawira | Flo Clothing

Ngāti Awa and Ngai Te Rangi.

Flo is about levelling the playing field so that all kids can flourish in life. It’s very much about the community – about connecting lovers of lifestyle and activewear through fashion to the very important social problem of child poverty. Flo is more than a brand – it’s about making a statement that this is who you are and what you stand for.

The Tā Koha process provides a good chance step out of the business to look at it and take more of a strategic approach. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-today grind. Even taking time for a simple exercise like “who’s your crowd” is good – Flo’s crowd is evolving all the time, so it’s something helpful to think about and work towards.

Pam Armstrong | Stay Native

Ko Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Whātua me Ngāpuhi ōku iwi.

Tenā koutou katoa.  I am part of the burgeoning social enterprise ‘Stay Native’ which is an online tourism platform, connecting travellers to authentic indigenous experiences. Our hosts are all tangata whenua, with stories, talents and hidden treasures to share. We want to enhance wealth creation for Māori by providing them with the opportunities, the support and the tools to facilitate high quality, and unique experiences for their manuhiri (guests).

Tā Koha has opened our eyes to the possibilities that can come from enlisting the support of whanau, hapu,  iwi and the community. There is power in the collective support given through this process. The community not only enables our social enterprise, but they too are contributing to the social outcomes we want to achieve for Māori. It therefore becomes a combined effort, where we all do a little to achieve a lot!

Rangimahora Reddy & Surinder Dhulip Singh | Rauawaawa Kaumatua Charitable Trust

Kia ora koutou katoa, Ko Tararua te maunga, ko Manawatu te awa, ko Raukawa, Ngati Maniapoto, Waikato Tainui, Ngati Rangiwewehi me Rangitane oku iwi. Ko Rangimahora ahau.

I am privileged to be the CEO for Rauawaawa.

Tenā koutou katoa. Ko Surinder Dhulip Singh toku ingoa, No Marēhia ahau. I am the Finance and Funding Manager at Rauawaawa.

“Hei manaaki nga Kaumātua” or enhancing the quality of life and wellbeing of our Kaumātua/ elders is what we all strive to achieve at Rauawaawa.

Tā Koha has given us an additional means to improve the lives of Kaumātua through engaging  passionate people willing to be active change makers. Ka nui te mihi Tā Koha.

Shāree Wilkinson | Moka Premium Eco-Fibre Lashes

Ko Ngāpuhi te Iwi, ko Taheke taku hau kainga. Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa.

My name is Shāree Wilkinson and my company Custom Plush Nz Ltd is forging new ground being the first to bring our unique resource of possum fibre into the beauty industry, and the first company to create an eyelash product in Aotearoa.

Crafting lashes that are 100% natural & biodegradable, my aim is to challenge the excessive use of synthetic fibres for eyelash manufacturing. This has been realised with a product set to help reduce the micro-plastic pandemic; Moka Premium Eco-Fibre Lashes.

Through a successful equity Tā Koha campaign, CPNZL will be able to expand on the product range into eyelash extensions, makeup brushes and importantly, glues to accompany the lash products giving Aotearoa an opportunity to stake its claim in what is a $1.4 billion global market.

“Mau ano e rapu he oranga”

Your livelihood is in your own hands”


Keep your ear to the ground for what each of the Tā Koha bunch have in store over the coming months, by signing up to the Tā Koha newsletter.

Waiapu Investments Limited receives overwhelming support (and next steps from here)

Waiapu Investments Limited launched their equity crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to invest in Hikurangi Cannabis last week. From their private launch to the local community they raised almost $1.4 million.

But, due to the overwhelming support for the company, the PledgeMe website struggled to meet the high volume of demand on the public launch and suffered a technical fault on Tuesday night.  After some overnight technical work, the second attempt at launching caused another crash of the PledgeMe website.

As an alternative solution, within 45 minutes a form was sent out for potential investors to indicate their pledge amounts to allocate the remaining available shares. Waiapu hit the $2 million legal cap by 7:56pm, and have had almost double their goal pledged through the form. The shares will be allocated on a first come, first served basis to the pledgers that came through the form. We will be contacting both those who will be added as pledgers and those that have been waitlisted by 5pm tomorrow.

The amount of interest in the campaign shows the support that Hikurangi has generated from their local community and further afield.

Waiapu’s goal is to increase the wellbeing of people and the land. Their initiatives aim to nurture the land and water, support the growth of vibrant and connected communities and aim to create an economically and environmentally sustainable future for our region. This is important work, and they are amazed to have such huge backing from the flaxroots locally and nationally.

We apologise for the frustration this process has caused pledgers. It’s amazing to see the groundswell of support for this East Coast start-up and the speed at which they hit their goal of $2 million (within 10 minutes of going to the public).

If you missed out on this campaign, you can register your interest for possible future rounds here.
If you have any queries, please contact PledgeMe on [email protected].

Two nights of server issues

Update: the form below was closed for new pledges from 7:45am on Thursday, 10 May.

The last two nights are not what we strive to do with PledgeMe. We aim to help kiwis fund the things they care about. And it’s hard to fund the things you care about when the servers go down.

On our first night launching Waiapu Investment’s campaign, the servers went down because of a search issue on our website affecting our database servers. Or so we thought.

On our second night, the servers went down because of the sheer load. And, even scaling the number of our servers (which we had pre-emptively started) didn’t help.

We had five times more load than our quickest campaign to $2 million.  We had anticipated double from the statistics of Waiapu’s first night.


So what’s happening now?

If you would like to invest in Hikurangi Enterprises, please fill in the form below. The campaign is NOT closed yet – we have manually closed it to use the form instead, but the campaign’s upper goal is still $2,000,000. Disregard any emails you received saying the campaign reached its target – those are due to us manually closing it.

You will receive email confirmation in the coming days to finalise your pledge, or will be added to the waiting list if the campaign has reached its maximum target.


If you were pledging to another campaign, we are truly sorry. We will extend those campaigns to give everyone time to pledge.

If you’re looking for more excellent projects to support, check out these campaigns:

About last night

Panda GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Last night definitely didn’t go as planned.

We expected an amazingly fast campaign with the powerful support of Hikurangi’s crowd. What happened was our website went down 10 minutes before Waiapu Investments (who are investing in Hikurangi Cannabis) even went live. We’re really sorry for the confusion and frustration it caused.

We recently upgraded to Amazon Web Services to stop server load issues from occurring on large campaigns. After three issue-less million dollar plus campaigns, we thought scaling our site wouldn’t be a problem.

What happened was a problem we hadn’t expected. Ten minutes before the planned launch, people flocked to our site and began searching for Hikurangi and Waiapu in our search bar. What we’ve since discovered is that when a search is carried out on PledgeMe, a full scan of our campaigns database occurs (that’s tens of thousands of records), and when too many people searched it caused our website to go down. It took our tech team a while to find this problem and get the site back up.

This level of searching has never happened on any of our campaigns in the past. We think it’s partially because we didn’t have our normal “coming soon” tile, as the campaign was privately launched already, and that the campaign didn’t have a banner on the homepage yet. Our experience and analytics to date has been that most pledgers land direct on the campaign page they want to pledge on (from an email or social media link) and that popular campaigns trend – so if pledgers do just land on the homepage they see it front and centre. So we’d never seen this scale of searching before, even on the big and fast campaigns.

We have well and truly learnt today that medical cannabis is more exciting than organic unbaked goods, chocolate, and craft breweries. Huge apologies to Manu, Panapa and the team.

What we’re doing is taking a close look at the search today and optimising how it searches, so it’ll be a lot faster. We’re ready for tonight, and can confirm the launch will be at 7pm on Wednesday, 9 May 2018. If you’d prefer to use a faster method than searching (please do!), here is the direct link that will be live at 7pm on the dot: pledgeme.co.nz/investments/298

We’re Australian official now (aka PledgeMe is now licenced to equity crowdfund across the ditch)

We’re super excited to announce that after seven months of hard work (and three years of watching / providing submissions) we’re licenced to provide equity crowdfunding in Australia.

What does that mean? Well, it means that I will be gone a bit longer than planned… Sorry friends and fam!


How did it happen?

When we raised our second equity crowdfunded round three years ago we said it would be for either exploring the Australian market or launching our lending product.

My notes on the proposed regulatory guide.

In the end, we did both. We visited Australia in September 2015, and launched Pledge.Me Lend. In Australia, we found that the market wasn’t ready yet. The regulations were being created, but word on the street was that it would take a while (even though one government document promised changes in the year). The style of regulation felt a lot more American than the British style we were used to in New Zealand.

In April 2017 the legislation finally passed to allow equity crowdfunding in Australia. Not a perfect piece of legislation, but when we reviewed it (and provided some submissions on it) we decided it might be workable.

At the same time as the change was made, Laura Reitel in Wellington told us about a programme that the Queensland government was running called Hot DesQ. Free cash for start ups to move to Queensland, and mentor and inspire the local ecosystem. Since that seemed like they were basically paying me to be me, speaking at every event under the sun normally, we put in an application.

We were lucky to be selected, and announced in September 2017 that we were “Exporting our Expertise” and moving across the ditch. I had never been to Queensland before, and I definitely now have a new definition of heat. 

From there, we hit the ground running. In the first month we set up our company, applied for our equity crowdfunding licence, did a road trip around the region, and I did a side trip to Europe to speak for a subsidiary of the UN. I wrote about it in this “Busy in Brissie” post. From there, we announced and ran an Unconference for 100 local founders and doers, and kept building our network of inspiring people.

We hit a speed bump in January when the first round of equity crowdfunding licences were announced, and were weren’t in the mix. It felt like our experience as the first (equal) licenced equity crowdfunding platform in New Zealand wasn’t valued. But in the end, we got there. We built out our team, and last week we received our equity crowdfunding licence here in Australia.


What’s the plan?

From here, we’re excited to take the lessons we’ve learned helping over 1,200 campaigners in New Zealand and help some Australian founders raise the money they need to scale. Not the founders that would have found it easy to raise money no matter what, but the founders that see the benefit in going to their crowd and might previously have been excluded from the financial markets.

Did you know that only 3% of venture capital goes to female-led businesses? So far, with our 30 successful equity and lending campaigns, 43% of them have female CEOs. Including us. Of the crowdfunding platforms licenced in Australia (and New Zealand) to date, we believe we’re the only ones with a woman at the helm. And while that shouldn’t be noteworthy, it is.

There’s so much research that shows, investing in diverse founders has better results. And that raising capital is a lot harder if you don’t fit in the typical mould. That mould might be based on what you look like, or your gender, but it can also be based on the types of company you’re raising money for. Like social enterprises. Or regional development. Raising money when your focus is dually growing your revenue and growing your impact isn’t always simple to explain to traditional investors (I know…. I’ve tried).


How will it work?

We’re talking to potential campaigners already, with plans to launch our first equity crowdfunding campaign here in Australia in June.

If you’re interested in learning more about running a campaign, send us a note. We’ve already started taking founders through our capital raising prep programme, CrowdfundingU.


But, what about New Zealand?

New Zealand has grown significantly in the last year, with the strong support of our team there. We’ve had some amazing campaigns across the line, like Little Bird and Parrotdog and now Hikurangi Enterprises’ Waiapu Investment. New Zealand has been busier in the last seven months than it has ever been. I’ll be back and forth regularly (and still spending a good bit of my time helping campaigns back home over emails and Zoom), but New Zealand is in safe hands with our team and our board.

And to answer the question on some of your lips: are you staying in Queensland?

Yes! Because it’s so freaking friendly. We were lucky to be part of the HotDesQ programme, with a soft landing (and some cash) to get set up in Brisbane. I’ve learned so much in the last seven months here, and been welcomed by such a wide range of founders and supporters. It really is all about the crowd. 

It’s great to be in a smaller big city too, where there aren’t a bunch of crowdfunding platforms setting up. It’s also nice to be able and supported to bring some of my favourite bits of home here (like, Unconferences….).


I’d like to say a huge thank you to my team and board for supporting in this move, and our shareholders and supporters for believing in us, and to HotDesQ for supporting us. It was a squigglyier line than planned to get licenced, but isn’t it always. I truly believe we’re well poised now to help Australians and Kiwis fund the things they care about.

What's Up Wednesday

Kaffelogic Personal Coffee Roasting System


The secret of coffee is great beans, that have been roasted to perfection. But most beans don’t stay fresh long, which means getting freshly roasted beans to grind in your own home can be really difficult. But this is where Kaffelogic comes in.

With the Kaffelogic Nano 7, you can roast coffee beans from the comfort of your own home – artisan-quality coffee your way, any time. Their products are hand-assembled in a Dunedin factory, ensuring quality and durability, and best of all, the roaster is simple, hassle-free, and easy to use. We checked in with Chris from Kaffelogic to hear all about the buzz behind the beans.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

We are changing the way coffee aficionados get their coffee: buying green beans and roasting on demand in their kitchens. This puts them totally in control of freshness and roast style.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

We want to produce a product that is designed and made in NZ, so we want to get New Zealanders involved from the ground up.

What do you have planned for the rest of the campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

We’ve been at the NZ Coffee Festival on 24 March so members of our crowd could see the Kaffelogic in action before they pledged. We will also be sending out more samples of roasted coffee – make sure you’re on our mailing list if interested.

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

We still have some tickets to the Coffee Festival to give away. Get in touch if you would like some. We love our crowd and can’t wait to start making you all a personal coffee roaster!

To get roasting, check out Kaffelogic’s campaign right here.

Introducing: Rachel Hopkins to our Board

Early this year we announced the retirement of our director, Nick Lewis, and the April departure of our board member Jessica Venning Bryan with the arrival of her baby.

After running a three month process to find a new director, we’re  excited to announce the appointment of a new member of the PledgeMe board, Rachel Hopkins!

Rachel has spent over 25 years in marketing, branding and customer experience, including working in both the Australian market and Māori / Pasifika engagement. From 1995-1999 Rachel started, grew, and sold a professional services business in Australia.

Recently appointed as the Chief Executive of Diversity Works NZ, Rachel has been part of the Senior Leadership Team of Competenz since early 2013. She held roles as Marketing Director for The Icehouse and Minter Ellison Rudd Watts and as Marketing Manager for The University of Auckland Business School. She spent seven years as a director of Ocean (a branding agency) and, as part of the Future Directors programme, sat on the board of NZX-listed AWF Madison Group for 18 months. In 2016, she was named the Institute of Directors Emerging Director of the Year (Auckland Branch) and has completed the Chartered Director qualification.

She came to us via a recommendation from one of our shareholders (and friends), and started adding value from the first skype chat. (For those that haven’t read Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus, you should).

One of her life goals is to “use [her] skills to help women grow businesses and ‘get s*** done’ for the economy and healthier communities” and she believes deeply in the idea of empowering communities. This resonated with me as a founder and also with our company values.

Our plans for growth involve a healthy mix of deepening our roots in New Zealand, supporting indigenous founders, and launching in Australia, and we know that Rachel will add insight and experience to all of those areas.

Thank you, Rachel, for joining us on this next phase of PledgeMe’s journey!


What we learned from our Tā Koha wānanga

The Tā Koha team hit the road with two aims: to bring the idea behind Tā Koha to local communities around the motu, and to hear the voices of the entrepreneurs and communities that Tā Koha will serve. We brought with us our energy and collective knowledge, and the crowds we spoke with gave us their insights, their enthusiasm and their curious questions.

Our whānau in Tūranganui a Kiwa


So what did we learn from the wānanga with our wider whānau in Whangarei, Manukau, Rotorua, Tūranganui a Kiwa and Ōtautahi? What wisdom flowed from our crowd?

Barriers to funding

The very first obstacle is a lack of awareness of the variety of options that exist and an understanding of how they can work for Māori. Who do I ask and where do I begin looking?

“Funding” can often be perceived as government grants, rather than covering everything from bootstrapping to philanthropy, from bank loans and payday lenders to angel investment and crowdfunding.

Not fitting the mould or satisfying the criteria set by traditional funding gatekeepers often prevents Māori entrepreneurs from funding their journeys. Sometimes it feels like applications and forms aren’t designed for Māori.

Having the support and insights to build confidence as you work through a funding process is crucial.

What’s needed beyond the money

What meaningful outcomes do Māori entrepreneurs want from raising money?

From many, we heard about a desire for a shared sense of ownership amongst whānau and hapu over the enterprise, whether a business, a non-profit, a whānau enterprise, social enterprise or marae enterprise. This helps to source skills, assets, time and willing effort from the crowd.

Others were eager to find expertise and guidance from inside and outside of the local community, and to uplift, upskill, and provide opportunities for the community. People agreed that filling up the kete was more important than funding.

Crowdfunding concerns

There were some concerns expressed about crowdfunding. Crowdfunding was new to many, and some suggested that passing on the knowledge to older stalwarts would be a challenge.

Alongside this was the fear of not knowing how it works, and not being supported through preparing for a campaign. People expressed a need for hero campaigners whose shoes they could see themselves in. Plus, taking part in a campaign takes time, skills, money and a willingness for people to put themselves out there.

Beyond the technical issues, come the issues of finding the right audience: how do people figure out who their crowd is, or even whether they have a crowd? And the big ask is a natural reservation. How can we reshape asking for money as giving whānau an opportunity to share in our impact? How do we move away from transacting and towards engaging?

Innovative sparks

It was inspiring to hear the creative ideas coming from the crowds. From kanohi te kanohi learning support, to games that introduce rangitahi to basic crowdfunding concepts. From viewing your diverse crowd as a “digital marae”, to collecting a wishlist of in-kind support from whānau (building the kete of time, skills, effort voices, land, assets & equipment).


What did we each take away from our hikoi experience?


Understanding how crowdfunding works is really important to the people we connected with.  And we keep seeing the desire from our people to access capital, in ways that is accessible and can utilise the collective potential of whānau and community.  People also want to give beyond money, they want to give their time, skills, knowledge information. We hope we can weave this into the Tā Koha Platform.


“We, as Māori, have always used our whānau and communities to fund our ideas.  What is stopping us from using the technology within PledgeMe to seek further funds and services to grow!  “E tipu e rea, mo nga ra o tou ao, ko to ringa ki nga rakau a te Pakeha hei ara mo to tinana: ko to ngakau ki nga taonga a o tipuna Maori hei tikitiki mo to mahuna”


“Having the chance to sit back and just listen to the whakāro from all the people we spoke to was eye-opening. We are grateful for these contributions, and for the opportunity to try to turn them into reality.”


“Getting to know good people from all over Aotearoa who care about uncovering opportunities for their communities was fantastic. And the open and honest kōrero with our newfound whānau has really widened our vision for what Tā Koha can achieve. How can we design ways for contributions of all shapes and sizes, of dollars and of goodwill, to be shared and celebrated?”


We’re extremely grateful for everything and every word that was gifted to us on our hikoi. We now must honour those conversations, contributions and ideas by creating a crowdfunding platform that truly delivers for Māori.

A big Kia Ora to our hosts who warmly welcomed us into their homes: InnoNative Business Base in Whangarei, GHA in Rotorua, Te Puni Kōkiri in Manukau and Gisborne and Ngai Tahu in Ōtautahi.


There’s still have a couple of local wānanga coming up. If you’re keen to join the conversation join us at TPK Porirua on Wednesday 28th March at 6pm, or online for a webinar wānanga on Wednesday 4th April at 6pm. You can RSVP here for Porirua, and here for the webinar.

Looking for a Kaituitui (Tā Koha platform Project Lead)

We’ve partnered with Māori Women Development Inc (MWDI) to create a new way for communities to fund indigenous and regional entrepreneurs. We believe supporting tangata whenua to access new forms of capital using platforms and tools that enable them to involve their communities can create a whole range of new opportunities – some of which we might only scratch the surface on.

Now, we’re looking for a Kaituitui to come lead the delivery of the Tā Koha platform. We’ve been up and down the country researching, have deep knowledge from Māori Women Development Inc and PledgeMe, but need someone to come bring that all together and drive the delivery of the platform. Is that you?

Role: Kaituitui – Tā Koha platform Project Lead

Location: Creative HQ, Wellington

Hours: 2-3 days per week for the next four months

Rate: $40/hour


We believe the right person will be able to:

  • Lead a part-time team of five across two organisations
  • Consolidate the qualitative and quantitative research already completed into the capital needs of indigenous entrepreneurs
  • Formulate follow up research plans for external researchers
  • Scope out the implementation with our wider team
  • Take part in Kiwibank Accelerator programme in Wellington (running until the end of May)
  • Give presentations, and facilitate group discussions
  • Take part in weekly group meetings and advisory board check ins, as well as daily standups
  • Deliver the first iteration of the platform with our partners and technical providers
  • Support projects through the process
  • Feed into reporting to our boards and funders
  • Have fun


  • Fluency in Te Reo Māori and a deep understanding of kaupapa Māori and Māori communities
  • Leading teams (bonus points if it’s across organisations)
  • Managing projects to budget and time
  • Research

Who’s behind this?

We’re co-creating this initiative between Māori Women Development Inc and PledgeMe. Here is some of the team behind it:

Barry Grehan is our Irish blow-in. He’s a rebel banker with an eye for fresh financial ideas. Whether it’s crowdlending or equity crowdfunding, his aim is to democratise the financial markets.

Kaye-Maree Dunn is a Hinepreneur ICF Coach under #RISE2025 and Māori Women’s Development Inc (MWDI), specialising in project management and relationship building, she works with MWDI and Te Whare Hukahuka. She has also started her own company, Making Everything Achievable (MEA). Through coaching, facilitation, technology, community development and business management, she uses her commitment to kaupapa Māori and holistic principles to explore how we can create systemic change.

Linda Clay is a 2018 Leadership New Zealand participant has been the accountant at MWDI for the past five years. Her role includes managing the loan book for the organisation and working directly with clients and supporting the delivery of education to wahine Māori and their whānau.  

Teresa Tepania-Ashton has 12 years experience in corporate banking with CITIBANK. She was responsible for major corporate clients in New Zealand that were focussed on global cash management and prior to that for more than a decade Teresa worked for a Danish Dairy Engineering firm. In July 2004, she was appointed as the CEO of Te Runanga a-Iwi o Ngāpuhi, allowing Teresa to focus on developing the assets of Ngapuhi but more importantly the aspirations of the Ngapuhi people. Teresa is currently appointed as CEO for Maori Women’s Development Inc who are a micro-lending organisation offering business loans to Maori women and their whanau.

Anna Guenther is PledgeMe’s co-founder, sounds American but she’s definitely a Kiwi. If pushed, she’ll say she’s technically from Dunedin, but will later admit she grew up in Boston. She completed her Masters with a focus on crowdfunding and has worked for everyone from NZTE to MIT (and all of the acronyms in between).

Interested in the role? We’re taking applications until EOP Monday 26 March and looking to appoint quickly after that.

Please email your CV or LinkedIn and a bit more about what you’d like to bring o this role to [email protected]

We hope to find someone as passionate about inclusive capital as us, with relevant experiences, and the interest to stick with us past the delivery of this project if it goes well.