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.
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.
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?
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.