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He waka eke noa: M?ori Women’s Development Inc and PledgeMe join to create T? Koha

There is power in the collective. So says one of the opening lines of the website of T? Koha, a co-creation between M?ori Women’s Development Inc and PledgeMe. As the site also says: “Together we’re asking: how can funding be opened up to entrepreneurs and changemakers with big ambitions for themselves and their communities? And how can we do that in a way that aligns with the kaupapa of those entrepreneurs and communities?”

With support from Te Puni K?kiri, T? Koha launched earlier this year. It took root when it was one of the start-ups at the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator (check out our story about that here). During the course of the accelerator programme, the T? Koha team engaged with about 200 people – and offered an opportunity to sharpen everything up for launch. Some of the folks involved with T? Koha, such as PledgeMe’s Anna Guenther, are quite well-known in Aotearoa’s business world. Others are not yet – but they all share a passion for helping and empowering M?ori entrepreneurs. The way T? Koha is relatively straightforward. PledgeMe provide the platform for crowdfunding campgains and/or online websites, which can help entrepreneurs reach a wider audience and more easily get the word out about what they’re doing without having to spend lots of money for advertising. The crowdfunding campaigns then sit on the PledgeMe website, alongside non-T? Koha campaigns.

Presently, there are three live T? Koha campaigns. They include establishing a technology and tourism hub in a historical country pub on the East Coast (seeking $50,000), enhancing the quality of life and well-being of kaum?tua (elders) by upgrading the Rauawaawa Kaumatua Charitable Trust’s facility and making it safer (seeking $100,000 – though the overall upgrade is expected to cost $3.3 milion), and establishing Manukau’s first co-working, events and maker space (Te Haa o Manukau –seeking $65,000). A further 11 T? Koha campaigns, covering everything from eco-false eyelashes made from possum (Moka) to the world’s first digital interactive sign language game (SeeCom – check out our story about Adele Hauwai and her mission here), are said to be readying to launch.

But T? Koha isn’t just about raising p?tea (finance). There’s also He Akoranga M?tauranga. Inspired by the work of the Grameen Bank and Kiva, He Akoranga Mat?uranga is an education programme to engage and support entrepreneurs and their wh?nau, and help them learn about the fundamentals of crowdfunding and prepare for crowdfunding campaigns of their own. The T? Koha team is also on the lookout for entrepreneurs they can assist and people who are willing to help out. While the proverb he waka eke noa (“a canoe which we are all in with no exception,” meaning “we are all in this together”) is often said, there’s another that could also aptly apply to T? Kohaand the work they’re doing: naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi (“with your basket and my basket the people will live”). Check out the live T? Koha campaigns on PledgeMe here.

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