Women entrepreneurs: At Forefront of Innovation in New Zealand

In the limelight: Women Entrepreneurs from New Zealand

New Zealand retains a unique position. The country’s openness to international trade, lack of government & business corruption, free-market economic reforms and its reputation for encouraging foreign investment – all point to the fact that it is recognized as one of the most business-friendly countries in the world.

Added to all this, there are a rising number of organizations that support women in business throughout New Zealand. One can say that its very nature encourages entrepreneurship and empowerment. Against this hugely encouraging landscape, Kiwi women are encouraged to find their strength and independence. 

Keeping in line with its unique slot, the Kiwi startup space is teaming with women business founders and entrepreneurs. So, New Zealand is a nation that is small but remarkable, backed by many outstanding women entrepreneurs.  

Here’s an overview of a few of the key players in the field of women entrepreneurship in
New Zealand.

> Samantha Jones, Founder & CEO, Little Yellow Bird

Samantha Jones is the Founder & CEO of Little Yellow Bird, which is a pioneering workwear and apparel brand. What is special about them is that they provide their customers with complete transparency and they provide their workers with ethical employment opportunities. They took part in the first Lightning Lab XX accelerator programme for women-founded start-ups.

In 2019, Samantha launched an equity crowdfunding campaign that was successful. They have created a huge impact today. Now, the company supplies its ethically- produced uniforms to more than 400 organisations across New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Canada.

> Rawinia Rimene, Founder, Girl Native

Girl Native was founded by Rawinia Rimene in 2019, and also took part in Creative H Incubator 2019. The company deals with inclusive beauty products, putting Māori women and their beauty needs on top. This sustainable beauty range uses resources from around Aotearoa.

Rawinia connected with the Porirua business community through the Porirua Launch Lab programme, which was a six-month incubation programme, created to help start-up businesses owners validate ideas and build a sustainable business from Porirua. After the incubation programme, Rawinia continued to develop her inclusive and empowering range, Girl Native.

The prominent impact of this company is that it is creating a collaborative community around the space. Plus it proved to be highly commended as an ‘Inclusive Make-up Product’ at the 2020 Pure Beauty Global Awards; and was a Finalist for Emerging Gold Products at Wellington Gold Awards 2022.

> Shalini Divya, TasmanION

Shalini Divya, Co-founder and CEO of TasmanION set up the company in June 2000. As Co-founder of TasmanION, she aspired to identify battery manufacturers and seek input from an industry partner, who may take technology forward for commercialization, and establish mutual benefits.

Automakers are expected to invest US$300bn to accelerate electric transport – implying a shortage of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) for other applications, in the next ten years. When she was selected for the 2021 Climate Response Accelerator, she was all set to maximise and advance the growth of TasmanION. She was also a Finalist in the 2021 KiwiNet Breakthrough Innovator award.

The great impact of this company is – the prospect that the development of aluminium batteries which will provide a sustainable alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

> Brooke Roberts, Co-Founder, Co-CEO & Director, Sharesies

Brooke Roberts founded Sharesies in 2017, which is a low-cost investment platform that allows new investors to sign up and start investing in minutes. Their clear vision is to give everyone the same investment opportunities – whether you are someone with $50 or with $50,000.

Sharesies came through the first Lightning Lab Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator programme in 2017, which helped them turn their idea into a business. And in April 2019, Sharesies became New Zealand’s first financial company – and just the 23rd Kiwi company overall – to qualify for B Corp certification. Besides, they won 2019 Wellington Gold Awards, Cyber Gold winner.

> Michal Garvey, Founder & Director, Foodprint

Michal Garvey is Founder & Director of Foodprint, which was founded in 2020, which is an app helping keep edible food out of landfills. It is a two-sided marketplace app where hospitality and retail sectors can sell surplus, imperfect and short-dated food – basically to prevent it from being wasted.

After completing two years in Auckland, she took part in the 12-week Climate Response Accelerator – to expand in Wellington. They also took part in Creative HQ Climate Response Accelerator 2021; and was winner of Best Design Awards & AgTech Breakthrough Awards.

The launch of the company was unique. Even though the launch was delayed due to the unprecedented COVID pandemic, Foodprint created news on the first day – with 30 eateries in Wellington signing up, along with record-breaking downloads of the app. Her strong feeling is that – Foodprint and the conversations it creates around food waste can play a role in Aotearoa, meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal’s target to halve food waste by 2030.

> Amber Marie Naveira, CEO & Co-founder, The Granary

Amber Marie Naveira is CEO and Co-founder, of The Granary, a Virtual Production Studio, which has an experience of two decades in the film industry – involved in Script Development, Production, Post through to VFX. She is passionate about empowering creativity through technology. Founded in 2016, they took part in Creative HQ Incubator 2020. They were also – Creative Gold 2021 Finalist.

Amber Marie has been part of over a hundred projects which include Academy Award winning films, Emmy award winning episodic series, industry-acclaimed interactive projects as well as independent and local productions.

The company’s impact is something to watch out for. They are helping local creatives realise projects on modest budgets – projects that may have once been out of reach. They are upskilling film technicians and giving graduates and the next generation future opportunities. At the end, they are also helping to build worlds through their technology, to develop high-concept Indigenous-driven stories.


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