Creatives Indigenous by Native Max announces a six-week business accelerator program for Māori artists and creatives pursuing entrepreneurship in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
The accelerator program offers Indigenous entrepreneurs a rigorous exploration and application of topics, including business opportunity analysis, business model development, leadership and team building, managing cash flow, and more. The program gives participants the resources to learn the building blocks of entrepreneurship, from the starting line to start-up status, with a high-quality curriculum developed in partnership with New Mexico-based organization Creative Startups. The program, which will feature a blended cohort of Indigenous entrepreneurs from both New Zealand and the United States, also aims to foster international business communities forged between Indigenous economies.
“What makes the program different is it’s centered on Indigenous values,” explained Native Max founder and lead faculty Kelly Holmes (tribe: Mnicoujou Lakota), who possesses decades-long experience as an Indigenous woman founding and leading multimedia and fashion business. “I’m excited to join in a trans-ocean collaboration with our partners and Māori relatives that’ll help accelerate Indigenous entrepreneurs and their businesses for success,” explains Holmes of the program. “This is a unique opportunity for Indigenous creative entrepreneurs of nearly opposite sides of the world to participate in an exchange of historical, cultural, economic, and social relations between one another.”
Joining Holmes as Co-Lead Faculty is Dr. Lee Francis, aka Dr. IndigiNerd (tribe: Laguna Pueblo), the CEO of A Tribe Called Geek (ATCG) Media and the Executive Director of Native Realities, both of which are dedicated to creating pop culture media that celebrates Indigenous identity. He is also the founder of the Indigenous Comic Con, the world’s only event by, for, and about Native and Indigenous popular culture. He is an award-winning editor of over a dozen comic books and graphic novels and has won accolades for his work on Ghost River, Sixkiller, and Native New York. “The chance to be able to work with our Aotearoa relatives is incredibly exciting! Our people have been entrepreneurs since time immemorial, and the opportunity to revitalize our ancestral trading and storytelling connections is both energizing and necessary in an age of colonial capitalism,” Dr. Francis Lee explains.
Creatives Indigenous will collaborate on the program with the well-renowned organization Tapuwae Roa, which is based in New Zealand. Tapuwae Roa is a Māori charitable trust established in 2004 and manages a fund on behalf of all Māori to deliver on its purpose: the sustenance of Māori identity. It undertakes philanthropic and investment activities targeting three key areas: leadership development, education and training, and advancing knowledge systems–both traditional and Western. In cultural exchange, Tapuwae Roa has gifted the program the Māori name Toi Tukua, derived from the concept of artistic release and dissemination.
Tupu te toi, ora te toi, whanake te toi. Tukua te toi ki te ao. Let artistic creativity grow, let it live, nourish it, and share it with the world.-Tapuwae Roa
Te Pūoho and Kate Cherrington of Tapuwae Roa will be the other two key leaders throughout the duration of the program. “Te Moana Nui a Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean) has been our superhighway connecting Māori to economies and cultures for thousands of years, and that continues today with Toi Tukua. This collab reminds us that the bounds of our business aspirations are not limited to the edges of our shores, and cultural exchange and storytelling are hallmarks of indigenous entrepreneurship globally,” says Te Pūoho of the collaboration with Creatives Indigenous.
Te Pūoho (tribes: Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Tama) is steadfast in his pursuit of holistic prosperity for indigenous Māori. As the Executive Director of Tapuwae Roa, his mission is to foster the sustenance of Māori identity, investing in education & training, research, and leadership development. His comprehensive background includes marine science, commercial and investment strategy, governance, relationship management across tribes and government, impact investment, and social enterprise. A Stanford graduate, Fulbright Scholar, and Obama Foundation Leader, Te Pūoho weaves together global best practices within an Indigenous, values-based lens.
Kate Cherrington (tribes: Ngati Hine, Te Kapotai, Ngā Puhi, Tangata Tiriti) has served in governance and advisory roles across tertiary, conservation, philanthropic, and for-value organizations, most importantly alongside her tribal marae and tribal collectives. Currently Chair of Hāpai Tūhono, Te Pou Theatre, and Tapuwae Roa and an Associate with The Centre for Social Impact. Kate and her tāne Bentham Ohia are directors of Puata Hou Ltd, a family business. Through this, they serve whānau hapū, iwi, and Māori organizations as well as non-Māori and international Indigenous institutions, organizations, and movements.
They both prioritize the deep and enduring intergenerational relationships they have at home in Aotearoa and with their Indigenous brothers and sisters from around the globe. Leading with love, serving, and working hard are fundamental elements of their life’s work. Kate explains, “Exploring and realizing potential is a worthy investment of time and resources. Creative industries are always at the forefront of significant social change and transformation that contributes to our communities.”
Māori artists, innovators, and other creatives are encouraged to register at https://form.jotform.com/233025093687055. Registration fee is free for Māori entrepreneurs located on Aotearoa Island and qualifying Creative Indigenous Alumni on Turtle Island (United States and Canada). Registration closes on February 15, 2024. Māori entrepreneurs have priority placement, and any remaining seats will be given to other Indigenous artists in Turtle Island.