IndigiShare gets off the ground with Rotorua Trust grant

Rotorua Trust has contributed towards a PledgeMe campaign to get IndigiShare – an initiative that aims to elevate Rotorua’s Māori entrepreneurial and business potential – off the ground.

Indigishare was set up during the first nationwide lockdown as a solution for those who lost employment due to COVID-19. It aims to help Māori businesses by developing a financial mechanism emulating the tikanga of koha.

With the koha model, Māori whānau are able to call on a ‘crowd’ for financial support at an affordable level, and for lenders to pay it back over time at a 0 per cent interest rate.

Thanks to the $100,000 Rotorua Trust grant, IndigiShare now has the means to get off the ground.

Chairperson Maria Ngawati says those on the IndigiShare governance board are all volunteers and the funding will go towards building out the initial operations and IT needs, that will set them up for success.

“This funding is integral to establishing IndigiShare. We now plan to be up and running in the next six to eight months.

“Through our research, we discovered there were inequities in access to capital, with many Māori businesses not being able to get a loan through traditional lending institutions. This has often meant these businesses then have to turn to other lending agencies with far higher interest rates.

“IndigiShare sets out to correct that imbalance through a model that best aligns with Māori business and community practices.”

Ms Ngawati says the model is a combination of peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding, and will target Māori businesses to start-up, survive and thrive.

“We are sincerely thankful that Rotorua Trust believes in us and what we are setting out to do”.

“The Trust recognises our kaupapa is about transformation and the opportunity to move away from a more traditional transactional grant process, in order to amplify impact.”

Ms Ngawati says while Rotorua Trust has provided the financial boost IndigiShare needed, a number of other organisations and individuals have supported the kaupapa over the past year.

Rotorua Trust Chairman Stewart Edward says if the model is successful, IndigiShare has the potential to positively influence local business growth and employment rates, especially for those Māori businesses that were disproportionately affected by COVID in Rotorua.

“Rotorua Trust recognises this is a high-risk proposal. However, if the application was declined, we would never know how transformational this by Māori, for Māori model could be.”