A new initiative focusing on empowering disadvantaged rangatahi and fuelling their dreams has started up in Whanganui.
Lift Business Whanganui launched its enterprise at its Victoria Court premises last week to a packed house, with Whanganui MP Steph Lewis, and representatives of police and fellow social enterprises, such as Thrive Whanganui, in attendance.
First launched in Hawke's Bay, Lift's mission is to deliver 100 per cent youth employment by working with the most disadvantaged and excluded young people to support them with their idea, connect them with service providers and provide young people with sustainable employment.
Lift has expanded to Whanganui after seeing a bit of a hole in the market.
"In a labour market significantly impacted by Covid-19, disadvantaged young people are facing greater challenges in finding jobs," Lift Social Enterprise director Jody Hamilton said.
"Our focus here is on supporting their own business ideas. They can come in and we can coach them through the whole process."
Hamilton said there was a large discrepancy in unemployment rate between young Māori and the general population, with figures from Stats NZ showing young Māori between the ages of 15 and 24 have an unemployment rate of 18.1 per cent, when the general unemployment rate is just 4.9 per cent.
"We have seen a significant increase in main benefit numbers for the Whanganui district, from 4872 in March 2019 to 5409 in March 2021. Now is the time to focus on creating new jobs and opportunities."
With workshops, modules, coaching and support systems all available, the idea is to utilise the natural talent of rangitahi to get their chosen career or pathway off the ground.
Lift Business co-ordinator Leighton Kotuhi-Brown said they had a two-platform hub at 92 Victoria Ave.
"The first platform is a training space where young people learn the fundamentals of developing their own business through our business development programme," Kotuhi-Brown said.
"The second platform is retail, to promote and display the products developed through the rangatahi businesses, including at the markets and through collaboration."
In its Victoria Court office, Lift Business has a range of products, including printed t-shirts, soaps, arts and crafts and more, made by previous clients it has helped get off the ground.
Lift approached the business world with a holistic lens, combining life skills, personal development and physical activity, Kotuhi-Brown said.
"They will also undertake Bounce, which supports the development of life skills to ensure success in business and personal goals."
Lift Business Whanganui's goal is to engage with 50 youth in 2021, and help half of them develop a business model and undertake business fundamentals.
"We hope to have 15 youth self-employed by the end of the year," Kotuhi-Brown said.
The free two-week programme, Bounce Life Skills, starts on May 10, with Hamilton encouraging any interested rangatahi to attend.
On May 14 Lift Business Whanganui will also offer a free three-hour workshop titled "Be Your Own Boss" that will focus on business fundamentals, business attributes and skills and an introduction to modelling.
"We're going to be encouraging young people to come on in and just get to know the kaupapa and what it's all about."
For more information about Lift Whanganui, visit the premises in Victoria Court, 92 Victoria Ave, or visit the website at https://liftyouthemployment.nz/