Programme launched to help beneficiaries develop skills to start their own business

"With COVID things have changed a lot, so this course looks like a good opportunity."
"With COVID things have changed a lot, so this course looks like a good opportunity." Photo credit: File.

By Sally Murphy of RNZ

ChristchurchNZ and The Ministry of Social Development has launched Start Me Up - a programme to guide potential business owners or people interested in learning about the start-up process.

Delivered in two stages, applicants will first take part in online workshops on the fundamentals of creating a business.

ChristchurchNZ regional growth manager Simon Anderson said the workshops would include guidance on considering what problem the business was aiming to solve, how unique the product or service was, and who the target customers would be.

"Twenty-five people will then go on to the second stage which is eight weeks of in-person masterclass workshops with mentors and programme coaches.

"At the end of it MSD has a range of programmes where people can get funding to start their own business - so it's a great opportunity," Anderson said.

He said the programme was all about helping people develop an idea and then show them how to pivot it to generate successful businesses.

Christchurch artist Lisa Schmidt applied for the course after starting her own art store in Oxford did not work out financially.

"I want to learn new skills when it comes to running a business, like how to promote things, advertise and how to deal with the tax side of things," she said.

"I do painting, ceramics and I'm learning to weave harakeke - I'll do anything, really, I'll have a go at it all."

Schmidt wants to start her own business so she can support her 18-year-old son who is off to university next year.

"I have a Facebook page where I advertise my art, but I would like to turn it into an online store at the end of the course.

"I suffer from PTSD from an aggravated robbery at my house last year, so I'm struggling with interacting with people at the moment, so yea I'm looking forward to the course and meeting new people."

Raneigh Smith applied for the programme in the hopes of getting skills to start a business. She was studying and working as a courier driver but took time off work for personal reasons.

"With COVID things have changed a lot, so this course looks like a good opportunity and a progressive way to keep looking and moving forward.

"I have a few business ideas I want to explore but I just don't know how to go about setting it up or where to start.

"I want to give it my all rather than half try and then fail and give up - I want to give it a proper go," Smith said.

She was also hoping the course would give her skills to help with her volunteering at Canterbury Tag Football.

"I'm really looking forward to it - to have a high calibre of mentors helping me will be amazing I only wish I had similar opportunities when I was younger."

Applications for Start Me Up are open to people in Christchurch, Selwyn and Ashburton and close at the end of February.

Ministry of Social Development's regional commissioner for Canterbury Diane McDermott said the programme's support would demystify the start-up process and provide a new path for people whose employment had been impacted by Covid-19.

"Start Me Up will be an opportunity for people to see if begin a business owner is for them, and build an invaluable network of local support and connections," she said.