World's first indigenous crowdfunding platform

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Māori are harnessing new entrepreneurial ideas and enticing interested parties to jump on board a new crowdfunding platform called Tā Koha.  It's a pilot which has been set up in collaboration with Pledge Me and Māori Women's Development Inc (MWDI).

It works on people buying into the concept of crowdfunding Māori businesses.

“Putea we needed to raise- that involved the people that were into the concept, into the kaupapa we were running,” says owner Manawa Udy, “And number two, that didn't mean that we were either having to pay back heaps more money or having to sell our kaupapa and our vision to someone else.”

The varied ventures include Kiwi kai, eco-tourism,  virtual reality tech that connects individuals to their tribal homelands and the first eco-fibre bio-degradable eyelashes, made from possum fur.

“I'm using part of the pelt that's often discarded in commercial use, we handcraft lashes out of it,” says Sharee Wilkinson of Moka Lashes, “Using environmentally-friendly processes already, with their processing of the pelts as well as their treatment of the animals, cruelty-free trapping, and quick kill.”

It is the first indigenous crowdfunding platform to be launched globally and supported by the government fund He Kai Kei Aku Ringa.

“Not many Māori were engaging in the crowd-funding space,” says Kay-Maree Dunn of MWDI.

“For our side, Māori Women's Development Inc, many of our wāhine that we do connect with were unable to access our loans, so we wanted to look at another platform where our people could access crowdfunding.”

“I'm looking at doing an equity campaign,” says Wilkinson, “I want to offer it to everyone who's registered with Ngāpuhi Rūnanga first because that's my people, that's my name.  And then from there on it will be offered to the rest of New Zealand.”

The Moka Lashes campaign will start on the 30th of September.