We’re lucky to have heaps of examples of stand-out Kiwis who are running businesses, global and local – many of which are focused on benefiting people and the planet.
Stay Native is a whānau owned social enterprise that promotes the sharing of authentic indigenous experiences in Aotearoa, with travellers from all over the world. Born and raised in Northland, Chanelle has completed degrees in both Māori Development and Social Services and is passionate about improving social outcomes for Māori. Chanelle manages branding, marketing and social media strategies ensuring that the kaupapa reflects Stay Native's values and vision to a global audience. Stay Native aims to make a differenece by supporting whānau self reliance principles and papakainga, marae sustainability, creating economic microbusiness and indigenous tourism career opportunities and promoting, celebrating and sharing the indigenous experiences. The proceeds from the Stay Native enterprise go to the hosts (80%) and the balance (20%) is reinvested back into developing Stay Native, as well as supporting the charitable aims of Nga Manga Puriri Trust to provide wellness recovery programmes.
Tim Brown is a former All White turned entrepreneur, who describes himself as inherently curious which is what led him to ask himself why a sustainable resource was virtually absent in the footwear industry. Brown recalls, with that spirit of wonder, the Allbirds journey began. After years of researching and tinkering, Brown teamed up with Joey Zwillinger, an engineer and renewables expert. Together, they crafted a revolutionary wool fabric made specifically for footwear. The outcome was an entirely new category of shoes inspired by natural materials and an ongoing mantra to create better things in a better way. The kiwi brand recently celebrated selling their one millionth shoe. “Overall, I think of my approach to work is much like my approach to developing and maintaining fitness when I was a sportsperson – intense training followed by equally important moments of recovery”, says Brown. “There are more similarities between professional sport and entrepreneurship than I ever could have imagined.”
Jeremy Moon is the founder of Icebreaker, a New Zealand clothing company specialising in merino activewear. Moon credits a chance encounter in 1994 for launching the international brand. When on his travels around the country, he met a merino grower who had developed a prototype fabric from 100% merino wool. Moon immediately saw the potential of a natural, biodegradable fabric that combined the benefits of wool and synthetics. The discovery inspired him to quit his research job and mortgage his house to launch Icebreaker – pioneering a new retail category: merino outdoor clothing. Within a decade, Icebreaker had grown to become New Zealand's leading outdoor clothing producer and exporter. Moon says, “when I started Icebreaker, I was twenty-four, broke, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But I was driven by a passion for what I saw was possible, and a belief that I could make it happen.”
Nadia Lim is the co-founder and entrepreneur behind My Food Bag, a food subscription bag making dinner time easier and healthier in Kiwi homes. My Food Bag helps to solve the “what’s for dinner?” dilemma for thousands of families across New Zealand with fresh ingredients for simple and healthy dinners every night. Prior to My Food Bag, Lim studied nutrition and dietetics at Otago University, learning the science behind food and nutrition, before she entered and eventually won on the reality TV show MasterChef. Lim’s aim is to help people eat more nutritiously, moving away from processed foods, and towards more real food with a farm to plate approach. My Food Bag supports local produce and free range meats. Less than three years after it began, My Food Bag hit the $100m annual revenue mark, making it one of New Zealand’s fastest growing companies.
Jade Gray is the co-founder and visionary entrepreneur behind Gung Ho Pizza in Beijing. Gung Ho began in 2010, when founders Jade Gray and John O’Loghlen looked at the industry and thought they could do a little better. The duo created a new kind of pizza incorporating healthy whole-wheat flour, rustic thin crust and fresh gourmet toppings in unique combinations. Then they branded it with a colour no food company would ever choose, bright pink. The choice of colour was more than just a random selection. Gray insists it represents the Gung Ho attitude, the desire to not just stand out from the crowd, but to stand apart from it, to go in a different direction. The off-the-wall marketing, collaborations with local brands and the eagerly anticipated pizza box cover designs by local artists – all stem from the need to do something for the fun of it. Gung Ho is also known for their Green sustainability program; switching to recycled paper for menus and packaging; cutting energy and water use; and reducing waste by 42.6% in 2013.
Shay Wright is a passionate Māori and social entrepreneur who set out with a vision to improve the lives of 10 million indigenous people around the world, starting with Maori. This saw the birth of ‘Te Whare Hukahuka’, an organisation and movement he co-founded, that empowers existing Māori leaders to take the next generation of rangatahi into a brighter future. Being a strong believer in entrepreneurship and innovation as the tools to achieve economic empowerment, Shay set that as the focal point for Te Whare Hukahuka. This developed through the programmes they use to work with Iwi and Māori youth to adopt the mindset, and practice it in their own businesses and communities; “Be brave. Be prepared to think differently. Be prepared to take the hard knocks of what it means to be in a position of leadership going into an unknown future.” Te Whare Hukahuka started with a dream, and with tremendous courage and aroha, it is making waves and binding a positive future not only for Maori but for all indigenous peoples across the globe.
Bonnie howland and hannah duder
Bonnie Howland and Hannah Duder are the young Kiwi entrepreneurs behind Indigo & Iris which they launched at New York Fashion Week in 2016. Indigo & Iris is an online beauty brand who sell Levitate, a high quality vegan mascara manufactured in Italy and distributed from NZ. The duo started their business to fund awesome work happening throughout the pacific and donate 50% profit to curing treatable blindness in the Pacific Islands.
Jamie Beaton is a 23 year old Kiwi with a net worth of around $70 million. Beaton is the CEO and co-founder of Crimson Education, a company Forbes describes as one of the fastest growing businesses in college preparation. Crimson was founded in 2013 with a goal to help people achieve their potential. It has since connected more than 20,000 students, entrepreneurs and young professionals with some of the world’s biggest young minds.
Rachel Taulelei (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Koata) is all about excellent kai and inu. For 20 years, she has championed Aotearoa as a producer of premium food and beverages – first as NZ Trade Commissioner in Los Angeles, then as founder of acclaimed sustainable seafood company Yellow Brick Road, and now as CEO of Kono NZ. A vertically integrated, family-owned Māori food and beverage producer that employs over 400 staff, Kono farms 530 hectares of land and sea and exports to over 25 countries. Its brands include Tohu, Aronui, Kono Wines, Tutū Cider, Kono Mussels and Annie’s Fruit Bars. Kono is also involved with lobster and growing apples, pears, kiwifruit and hops. “Our ambition is to be the best indigenous food and beverage business in the world”, says Taulelei.
OLelei started out as a school group project and is now operating as a sustainable business dedicated to providing dairy-free goodness with natural almond products. 18 year-old Co-Founder and CEO, Matt Billington says they saw an opportunity when research showed there were plenty of coconut and soy yoghurt and ice cream products on the shelves, but nothing that used almond milk. Since launching in 2015, OLelei now sells almond milk called AL Milk and New Zealand’s only almond milk yogurt and ice cream, AL Yo and AL Ice. As a 100% sustainable company, OLelei also uses all waste to create their fourth product, AL Flour. OLeilei products are currently sold on their website and at Farro Fresh across Auckland with plans to expand to an international brand.
Lisa King is the heart and entrepreneur behind Eat My Lunch, a social enterprise with a dream to alleviate poverty in New Zealand starting with kid’s lunches. King found herself in dismay after seeing a piece on Campbell Live comparing the lunches of kids at low-decile schools with those at high-decile schools. She recalls thinking “These kids are coming to school every day hungry and no one is doing anything”, which in turn founded the idea of Eat My Lunch. With a Buy-One Give-One model, Eat My Lunch has given 870,009 lunches to Kiwi kids in just two and a half years. Kids who would otherwise go without. With such an important cause there has been no shortage of high-profile Kiwis getting behind the social enterprise, from international artist Lorde, to world class boxer Joseph Parker. King has a strong philosophy that only food she would give her own children go into these lunches, so you will never see anything processed, with a long shelf-life or filled with sugar. “Every day we have the choice to make a difference.”
Everybody Eats is New Zealand’s first pay as you feel restaurant aimed at feeding people in need with food that would otherwise go to waste. Founder Nick Loosley wanted to tackle food waste and food poverty in New Zealand, so he opened the pop-up restaurant in St Kevin’s Arcade on Auckland’s Karangahape Road. Everybody Eats is a space for people of all backgrounds to connect and engage with each other around food. The pay as you feel model opens the doors to those who can afford to pay for their meal and for those who can’t. Loosley estimates that around 30% of people eating at Everybody Eats are paying and around 80% of their customers are homeless or in need. Almost all of the food on the menu has been rescued from being dumped by local supermarkets and is then turned into a three course meal by the Everybody Eats volunteers to feed over 100 people per night. “For me, food’s the most powerful tool we have for bringing people together”, says Loosely, who aims to open up more Everybody Eats restaurants to feed communities in need throughout New Zealand.
Samantha Jones is the entrepreneur and Founder behind Little Yellow Bird, an online fair-trade clothing retailer specialising in ethically and sustainably made workwear and basics. Little Yellow Bird is centred around people, planet and quality. “My vision is to eliminate exploitation in the garment industry. Child labour and unsafe working conditions are two problems that particularly resonate with me”, says Jones. “I’m also passionate about the environment and I see the fashion industry as a sector that is quite wasteful but has huge potential to do things differently.” Little Yellow Bird is doing things differently as the only certified B Corp uniform company in the world proving that you can do good while doing good business. Jones is a firm believer in the idea that business is the most effective way to support people in developing communities and she is fighting to improve the garment industry through raising awareness.
Bernadette Casey is the Founder and Creative Director of The Formary, a textile research and development social enterprise, transforming surplus fibres into new fabrics. As sustainable business, The Formary specialises in the development of ground-breaking fabrics from agricultural and post-industrial fibre waste. The Formary was founded in 2008 and now consults to organisations around the world, diverting textile waste from landfill and transforming end-of-life textiles into new products. Casey’s first client was global coffee giant Starbucks for who she created WoJo, a high performance and award winning upholstery fabric made from the chain’s vast supply of used coffee sacks. Casey’s next project was developing Mibu, an interior fabric created from surplus straw generated from rice harvesting. The Formary is currently leading the NZ Textile Reuse Programme, a collaborative project with leading NZ corporations and organisations to develop sustainable solutions for end-of-life clothing and textiles.
Brianne West is the Christchurch based founder and entrepreneur behind NZ beauty brand Ethique. West started Ethique in 2012, out of frustration with the amount of packaging produced by the cosmetics industry. A qualified scientist, West formulates all of her own products using biodegradable ingredients and wrappers so that the Ethique bars leave no trace on the planet. Ethique is a certified BCorp and was recognised as New Zealand’s most sustainable business in 2015. Making a big impact on the beauty industry and little impact on the planet, West is proud to be a certified climate neutral, cruelty free and living wage employer.
sir ray avery
Sir Ray Avery is the founder of Medicine Mondiale – a charitable trust developing and commercialising innovative, affordable products and technologies that make a significant and measurable impact on access to quality healthcare on a global scale. Medicine Mondiale was founded in 2003 and now has an international network of scientists, technologies and corporations donating their knowledge and skills to make a difference. Avery recalls growing up in poverty as a foster child, but he believed he could make a difference. “The people that are crazy enough to believe that they can change the world, are the ones that do.”
malcolm & melanie rands
Malcolm and Melanie Rands founded EcoStore on the Northland coast in 1993, developing natural and eco-friendly household products that New Zealanders have grown to love. The Rands sourced and created cleaning and body care products without harmful or unnecessary chemicals to give consumers a refreshing and healthy alternative to traditional products containing heavy and harmful chemicals. EcoStore has since become New Zealand’s leading manufacturer and retailer of plant-based household cleaning, body care and baby care products and is now sold throughout Australia, the US and Asia. The EcoStore gives a percentage of its profits to the Fairground Foundation, its philanthropic arm funding social and environmental projects. Malcolm Rands has also written a book detailing his journey from a garage in Northland, to a pioneering multimillion dollar global brand.
fiona heargraves & bailey peryman
Cultivate Christchurch is a social enterprise curating a network of urban farms with the aim to grow more local produce, connect with the community and help at-risk youth through the shared experience of gardening. Fiona Heargraves and Bailey Peryman founded the idea over coffee, and after tapping into their networks, the pair were permitted to lease a 3000sqm plot of land in the former red zone of Christchurch. Heargraves and Peryman shared a central aim of providing a place where young people who need extra support to be in employment can learn about gardening, collaboration and experience the outdoors. In just one year, the site was transformed into an urban farm producing herbs, leafy greens and gourmet baby root vegetables which are then sold to local restaurants. Excess crops are distributed to the City Mission, taken home by volunteers or shared at a weekly lunch for all-comers.
Brittany Teei is the co-founder of Kidscoin, an educational software programme developed to nurture good financial and digital skills among primary school kids. The mother-daughter duo joined forces once they realised that our current education system was failing NZ kids, by not preparing them with important life know-how's that will ready them to survive in an ever-changing society, such as money and technology. Through being a professional tennis player, Brittany believes in the importance of adapting habits at a young age, to aid you as you face the many challenges presented in adult life. With hard work and dedication, Kidscoin became a reality, now, it is used in classrooms and the Social Sector across New Zealand, preparing kids to take on the 21st century.
Tumeke Enterprise is focused on challenging today’s youth to become tomorrow's world leaders, by building them up through a set of collaborative workshops. The incredibly talented and determined Chief Executive, Jay Mclaren-Harris, says Tumeke Enterprise is working to change the status quo on leadership through pushing their idea of what a leader is; "someone who uses their influence to create positive change." What started as an idea, has now become an internationally recognised organisation, creating a path for youth to no longer be bystanders, but become active members of society, and gaining the confidence to forge their own future as endearing leaders.
Kendall Flutey is the co-founder and CEO Banqer, the financial education platform used by more than 63,000 Australasian primary school students. Since launch in early 2015 Banqer has progressed from an idea to multinational edTech supporting tens of thousands of students towards financial independence. Kendall enjoys the new challenge that comes with growing a mission driven social enterprise and is most proud of the work they continue to do close to home in our local communities. In 2018, Kendall was named Young Māori Business Leader in the 2018 University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards, and Banqer the NZ Hi-Tech Awards Startup of the Year.
Levi Armstrong is the co-founder and CEO of Patu Aotearoa.
Patu Aotearoa is a new initiative founded to engage with whānau and decrease inactivity rates throughout New Zealand – particularly within Māori and Polynesian communities. Patu operates as a national social franchise, with a growing number of Patu whare operating across the Hawkes Bay area. Patu incorporates Māori language and tikanga, and recognises the benefits of working out together as a group, a form of collaboration which stems back to the Māori concept of whānaungatanga. “Seeing the smiles on the faces of your own whānau, seeing them achieve their goals, seeing the camaraderie and sense of belonging – that’s the real buzz.”
daniel & justine flynn
Thankyou is a social enterprise that sells consumer products and commits 100% of profits to helping end extreme poverty. Daniel and Justine Flynn started out as students who believed the system could change and then grew to millions of people purchasing products for a cause that the pair describe as "much bigger than us all". So far Thankyou have raised over $5.8m to date and impacted over 780,000 lives. "Every decision that we make is ultimately about maximising the impact that we can have by funding life-changing projects around the world" says Daniel, "We exist 100% to end global poverty."
BRITTANY & JOHANNA
Brittany and Johanna Cosgrove are the Wellington-based sister duo behind Nope Sisters. Nope Sisters is an ethical NZ made clothing brand featuring strong social messages that confront and spark conversations about issues such as breast cancer, sexual abuse and eating disorders - and the social enterprise supports prevention and awareness of these causes by donating a part of its profits to the registered charities in New Zealand. The sisters were first inspired by their survivor mother's battle with breast cancer and launched the MastectoTee during Breast Cancer Awareness Week in 2016 to raise money for Cansurvive. Brittany says "We realised we could create fashion for a cause and that's when Nope Sisters was born.". Since then, Nope Sisters have designed a range of clothing supporting good causes that help people and the planet.