Gisborne's Tāiki E! Impact House is a self-funded collaborative hub where social entrepreneurs, creatives, impact investors, community developers and whānau committed to change come together.
The intergenerational hub also supports Gisborne rangatahi to engage in business opportunities in a safe learning environment.
Former teacher Steph Barnett, who is involved in rangatahi development, heads Tāiki E! Next Gen, offering hands-on entrepreneurial learning for budding entrepreneurs aged 14-24.
"We support our young people to come up with innovative ideas to support our community, but in a sustainable way," Barnett said.
The students meet on a Monday at 3.30 pm to discuss leadership, entrepreneurship, and social innovation.
Tāiki E! were gifted a retail space from a local business owner in return for a mural in their new business.
"The people who were previously in the shop had a few months left on the rent. They were establishing a new business over at the Globe restaurant, and they said, paint us a mural in the Globe and you can have the shop to do whatever you like with for a few months," Barnett said.
Seeing this as a perfect learning opportunity, Barnett encouraged the rangatahi to come up with a sustainable business idea. So they created Gisborne's first-ever escape room called Next Gen Escapes. It is a huge success.
"The idea of the Escape Room came up, which was very popular with our young people, who had seen them in the cities," Barnett said.
The front part of the retail space has a pop-up store area that youth can use to host business ideas.
"You learn so much stepping into that space about marketing, sales, product pricing, how to engage with the community, and even safety."
The pop-up shop currently hosts 16-year-old American-born entrepreneur Kat Vanderbilt and her Rehash Collective, authentic American vintage sportswear.
"Each of these pieces has been worn before, used before, and they're still sick pieces and they should be reborn in New Zealand," Vanderbilt said.
Vanderbilt has lived in Gisborne since 2020, but the idea came to her when she was on holiday overseas.
"I took a trip to the States in July. Along the way, we stopped at these different thrift stores and got clothing from local teams or the statewide teams," Vanderbilt said.
No stranger to hard work, Vanderbilt has always seen herself as an entrepreneur, starting her first business at 12 years old.
"I was selling tea out of my garden, and it made it all the way down to Mexico. So I was shipping things all over the world," she said.
"I would bring it to church, youth groups, and school. I'd try to sell it to my teachers. I just wanted people to have my tea."
There are lots of opportunities for youth to get involved in community projects including Pikup a kai harvesting and sharing project. Rangatahi collect excess kai from trees around the community. The kai is split between the owner of the tree, the volunteers and one of Gisborne's eight pātaka kai, or community food pantries.
The doors at Tāiki E! are open to everyone and Barnett encourages rangatahi to give it a go.
"Try coming along to a market and selling a few things, or just coming along and supporting someone else, because we are constantly learning from each other and it's a safe space to get it wrong."
For more info about programmes, community projects and events go to Tāiki E! and Tāiki E! Next Gen Facebook pages or visit www.taikie.nz.