Students were thrown into the dragons' den at Whanganui City College as part of the he kai kei aku ringa Rangatahi Business Challenge.
More than 70 Māori students from Whanganui and Palmerston North schools made presentations to a panel of judges on the third and final day of the event on Thursday.
The challenge, run by Young Enterprise in partnership with Te Puni Kōkiri, had the Years 9-11 students exploring their business acumen.
Young Enterprise Māori outreach coordinator Natania Katene said the aim was to teach the students about strategy, marketing, production and finance.
"They've had to research what's out there already in their community and identify something cool and new that they could add to it," Katene said.
"They've each got different roles, they've got a CEO, a head of finance, head of marketing and each person has to stand up and explain what they bring to the business."
The students were put into mixed teams and came up with business ideas involving tourism, health and the environment.
One group came up with the idea of an underwater restaurant.
Katene said that 90 per cent of the students participating came into the challenge with no prior knowledge or enterprise.
"The benefit of the programme is that it's exposing rangatahi to career goals and also helping them to think about what might interest them in the future.
"Many of these students have never got up and presented before, they've never even done a PowerPoint presentation."
Students created a virtual business on day one, planned how they'd make it work on day two and finished with a pitch similar to the Dragons' Den television show on day three.
"We hope this will encourage Māori students to start thinking not just about business, but also other opportunities and programmes that are out there to guide them," Katene said.
"As a team, we feel really lucky to have been able to come to Whanganui to offer this programme and to have the support from the community to do so."
Schools involved in the challenge were Whanganui City College, Cullinane College, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tupoho, Te Kura o Kokohuia, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Atihaunui-A-Paparangi and Queen Elizabeth College.