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Last modified: 19 Jan 2021 8:16am

Three women laugh together while working on computers round a desk

People who lost their job because of COVID-19 are being offered a chance to kick-start their new business idea as part of an innovative new programme.

The Start Me Up initiative by ChristchurchNZ and the Ministry of Social Development will see successful entrepreneurs and business leaders support people whose employment situations have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 to start their own business.

The programme is open to residents in Christchurch, Selwyn and Ashburton districts and who are receiving a benefit and had their employment situation impacted during the pandemic.

Start Me Up will guide potential business owners, or those interested in learning about the start-up process, through the process of testing out their concept to see if it has what it takes to be successful.

It will culminate in a graduation event where participants will be able to showcase their concepts to an audience of local businesses, investors and entrepreneurs.

The programme will be delivered in two stages, with online workshops on the fundamentals of creating a business, followed by eight weeks of in-person masterclass workshops.

The participants will be supported by successful entrepreneurs, mentors and start-up experts from the Ministry of Awesome's Te Ōhaka incubator and the University of Canterbury’s ThincLab.

Diane McDermott, Ministry of Social Development’s Regional Commissioner for Canterbury, said the programme’s wrap-around support will demystify the start-up process.

“Start Me Up will be an opportunity for people to see if being a business owner is for them, get a handle on the start-up process, and build an invaluable network of local support and connections.”

You can find out more or apply at the Start Me Up website, or attend an information session at Lincoln Event Centre 10–11.30am Friday 12 February. Applications close on Friday 26 February 2021.