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Chch offers start-up support for COVID-19 impacted jobseekers

19 Jan 2021

Christchurch, Selwyn and Ashburton residents who lost their job because of COVID-19 are offered a chance to kick-start their new business idea as part of a new Christchurch programme.

Business ideas of all kinds are being called for as part of an initiative to help people whose employment situations have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 to start their own business.

The programme, Start Me Up, will guide potential business owners or those interested in learning about the start-up process, and who are currently receiving a benefit, through the process of testing out their concept to see if it has what it takes to be successful.

Start Me Up will culminate in a graduation event celebrating participants’ successful completion and showcasing their concepts to an audience of local businesses, investors, entrepreneurs and the wider Christchurch innovation ecosystem.

The initiative will be delivered through a partnership between ChristchurchNZ and the Ministry of Social Development, with applications open until 26 February 2021.

ChristchurchNZ’s innovation and business growth general manager Boyd Warren says the programme would give the right advice and support to grow new businesses and ultimately deliver sustainable decent jobs.

“Start Me Up participants will be provided with the best chance of business success by a support team of already successful entrepreneurs, mentors and start-up experts from the Ministry of Awesome's Te Ōhaka incubator and the University of Canterbury’s ThincLab.

“It’s a huge network of support and a great example of Ōtautahi’s flourishing and connected innovation ecosystem in action. Plus, the support and networks the Accelerator finalists will finish with are tremendous.”

The Ministry of Social Development’s Regional Commissioner for Canterbury Diane McDermott adds that the programme’s wrap-around support will demystify the start-up process and provide a new path for people whose employment has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

“Start Me Up will be an opportunity for people to see if being a business owner is for them, get a handle on the start-up process, and build an invaluable network of local support and connections.”

Start Me Up continues ChristchurchNZ’s fostering and coordination of innovation and entrepreneurship after recent investments in ThincLab at University of Canterbury Business School, and Ministry of Awesome's Te Ōhaka Centre for Growth and Innovation at Ara Institute of Canterbury.

The education and support-centred programme will be delivered in two stages.

The first stage will take participants through online workshops on the fundamentals of creating a business. 

These will include guidance on considering what problem the business is aiming to solve, how unique the product or service is, who the target customers are, setup costs, and possible revenue channels.

Participants will then be invited to apply for the second stage which will feature eight weeks of in-person masterclass workshops with mentors and programme coaches. 

Participants will consider their business viability in more detail including market validation, legal requirements, financial sustainability and managing people.

The programme is open across the wider Christchurch area, and the Selwyn and Ashburton districts. 

Applicants must be currently receiving a benefit and have had their employment situation impacted during the pandemic.