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Kokiri-crew-heading-to-Vietnam

Four participants in business accelerator programme Kōkiri - led by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in partnership with Callaghan Innovation and the He Kai Kei Ahu Ringa Crown-Māori Economic Growth Partnership – are off to Vietnam.

Kōkiri, the Asia New Zealand Foundation and the Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPE) are sending the five participants on the Accelerate Vietnam programme, which runs from November 25 to December 2.

The group will visit Ho Chi Minh City and Danang to build networks in Vietnam’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and gain an understanding of Vietnamese business culture and environment.

In Danang, they will be among the 5000 people attending the Techfest conference.

The programme is designed to develop global confidence amongst emerging Kiwi entrepreneurs, highlight opportunities in the region and build strong networks with Southeast Asian entrepreneurs.

Ian Musson, Business Development Manager for Kōkiri, says taking Māori entrepreneurs to the world has always been the goal for the programme.

“We’re excited to help support the growth of five start-ups to enter the Southeast Asian marketplace – and with a population of 650 million that dwarfs both New Zealand and Australia,” he says.

“This is an amazing opportunity – the teams will experience a new culture and a new way of engaging in business. New relationships will be developed, and new foundations laid for what will be a promising future for Māori entrepreneurs.”

Asia New Zealand Foundation leadership and entrepreneurship programme manager Adam McConnochie says the Vietnam visit will be the first in the new Accelerate Southeast Asia initiative.

“The participating Māori entrepreneurs are working on a range of interesting projects, and we look forward to them connecting with Vietnamese entrepreneurs who are coming up with innovative ways to tackle challenges in that country.”

 “Vietnam was chosen as our first destination because it is known for its youthful and entrepreneurial population, and its government is supportive of start-ups. Ho Chi Minh City is increasingly gaining a reputation as an international tech hub.”

Cecily Lin, project manager for the Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence, says there are great opportunities and untapped potential in the region.

“We’re excited to see how the Kōkiri businesses flourish under this programme.”


The participating entrepreneurs are:

Damaris Coulter (Ngāti Kahu), CEO and founder, The Realness (a tool for finding owner-operated restaurants), Auckland

Adele Hauwai (Ngāti Kahungungu, Tūhoe, Tainui), CEO & founder of SeeCom (a digital interactive sign language game), Hamilton

Denym Harawira (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Te Rangi, Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou), CIO, Arataki Cultural Trails (a proximity-based app to show sites of cultural significance) Tauranga

Kawana Wallace (Ngāti Uenuku, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Rangi), CEO and founder, myReo Studios (bilingual digital education games), Huntly

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