Content Archived on the Web

This content has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please check our menus for latest news items.

Last modified: 31 May 2022 8:50am

Minister Ayesha Verral and Dr Chris Kirk stand listening to a woman talk from a group of people seated in front of them

From carnivorous plants to customised camper vans – an innovative group of Selwyn entrepreneurs got national attention last week.

Minister for Seniors Ayesha Verrall dropped in to hear from 12 Selwyn residents who have been part of a first of its kind programme in New Zealand, helping late in life entrepreneurs bring their business ideas to life.

The Starting a Business Later in Life programme was organised by the Council together with business coach and mentor Dr Chris Kirk and received funding from the government’s Te Tari Kaumātua, Office for Seniors. Minister Verrall visited Te Ara Ātea to meet with course members and organisers to learn how it worked, with a view to possibly funding the programme to expand beyond Selwyn.

The course involved the group meeting weekly for four weeks for group workshops as well as working with a business mentor on researching and planning their business. With the workshop phase over, the course members will continue to be supported through an enterprise hub where they can meet with each other and their business mentors weekly to discuss ongoing issues.

The ideas included plans for Selwyn’s first authentic Mexican taqueria, massage therapy and support for people recovering from depression and anxiety, a lawn care business, an art retreat, customised picture frames, a bed and breakfast and converting a historic home to an event space.

Helen Pidwerbesky, who is planning a business as a professional organiser, told the Minister the group had been a huge support.
“I particularly found working with people around the same age important. Quite often we don’t know what the young ones know so it was good to be with people with the same questions and knowledge.”

The group has put a huge amount of work into the course, Dr Kirk says and he has high hopes for them.
“I have spent a good deal of my life teaching and workshopping with under graduates and graduates and I have been very impressed with the attitude of the people in this programme. Age and experience is your edge to getting started, but I’m looking for 12 businesses out the end."