World’s first global indigenous online marketplace

By Jessica Tyson
Pounamu from the award-winning artists at Rākai Jade, Rotorua / Source - Rawhitiroa Photography, 5000 TRIBES Facebook

As Matariki rises, the world’s first global indigenous online marketplace has been launched.

Social enterprise 5000 Tribes launched its trading platform, dedicated to assisting Māori, Pasifika and indigenous businesses, professionals, artists and creatives across the globe to make online trading easier, eliminating common barriers to ecommerce.

Co-founder Moana Ellis, of Uenuku, Kahungunu and Tūwharetoa, says the Covid-19 crisis has magnified the need but also opportunity to create jobs and support communities by connecting businesses with customers around the world.

“Companies are under immense pressure to generate cash flow to survive Covid-19, and times are tough for workers who have lost their incomes,” Ellis says.

The Māori and Pasifika economy alone is worth more than $60 billion.

“Over the past four months, we've been developing plans to build online business sales and start-ups so every Māori, Pasifika and indigenous entrepreneur has the opportunity to showcase their products and services on the global stage - and provide for their families.”

Supporting community wellbeing

 5000 Tribes began on-boarding businesses yesterday and the platform will be more than just a marketplace or mall. 

“We wanted to recognise the unique approaches indigenous entrepreneurs take to trade – and also the growing global community of customers who want to support an economy that values community wellbeing, not just profit.”

Co-founders Ellis and Te Rina Kōwhai, of Ngāti Porou and Ngāpuhi, have over 40 years’ experience in communications and media. Both are graduates of the Ka Hao i te Ao e-commerce programme run by Te Whare Hukahuka.

“It’s about showcasing high-quality, authentic products, services and experiences to the world while keeping culture, tradition and values at heart. We’re building a powerful collective presence with global reach, and an economy that supports Indigenous wellbeing and values,” Te Rina Kōwhai says.

She says setting up a store is free for businesses with no monthly subscriptions. The company instead charges a commission on sales of 7.5 per cent, which is cost-effective for sellers in comparison to commission structures elsewhere of up to 60 per cent.

“The revenue will go back into the 5000 Tribes platform to drive sales and maintain the high-tech platform, enabling continual development,” Kōwhai says.

“For example, geo-mapping and authenticity marks are on the cards, to connect customers with such features as ethical sourcing, origin stories, or simply where in the world each Indigenous business connects to.”

5000 Tribes will officially open later in the month.