Countdown is investing $1 million to encourage economic growth and increase diversity in small businesses.
The supermarket chain's new accelerator programme Kete is focused on helping encourage a more diverse supplier base in Aotearoa, including businesses owned by Māori, Pasifika, youth, women, LGBTQIA+ people and people with disabilities.
Kete aims to support up to five small and diverse businesses through a 12-month specialised programme to each business, said Kiri Hannifin, Countdown's general manager corporate affairs, safety and sustainability.
Each of the businesses chosen to be part of Kete will get a package worth over $250,000 including a $20,000 cash grant, customer marketing support, access to Countdown customer insights, product development and manufacturing support, and mentorship from experts across Countdown, she said.
"We're particularly interested in supporting local businesses owned by people who often face extra hurdles and challenges in the business world.
"Kete is going to give five small, diverse businesses a complete toolbox of support and resources to help turn ideas into reality, and we're delighted to be able to help equip entrepreneurs and innovators in such a meaningful way," Hannifin said.
The company's internal survey revealed that less than one per cent of its total purchase is from Maori-owned suppliers.
The supermarket chain is also working with Amotai, a brand established in 2018 that is dedicated to promoting the growth of Māori and Pasifika entrepreneurship through smarter use of procurement and supply chains.
Amotai's capability manager Frae Cairns said programmes like Kete are important in accelerating the success of diverse businesses and it welcomed Countdown's initiative to help diversify the next generation of Kiwi entrepreneurs.
"It can be incredibly challenging to reach your goals as a small, minority-owned business and while the cash grant is great, what's even better is the wraparound support and expertise that Kete offers.
"It's in-depth, meaningful and will really make a difference to the future of each business and to the ongoing mahi to diversify the business world here in Aotearoa," Cairns said.
Applications for Kete programme will close on August 15.