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The Generator


The Generator is an MSD-funded, four year initiative that takes a grass-roots approach to addressing financial hardship in some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable communities.

The Generator was co-designed by people who have had first-hand experience of hardship. The programme initially commenced in South Auckland, North Waikato, Porirua, Whanganui, and Tairawhiti. The programme has since moved into Northland, South Waikato, Murupara and Christchurch.

By putting whanau and communities at the centre of developing their own solutions to financial challenges, the goal of The Generator is to spark abundance through supporting action and enterprise.

The Generator is designed to help people realise their talents and abilities, increase their incomes and employment opportunities, build their skills and capabilities, and create strong connections and networks in vulnerable communities.

How the Generator works

The Generator encourages individuals, whanau and community groups to carefully plan a sustainable enterprise before applying for seed funding that can then be used turn their business ideas into real enterprises.

Applicants usually need to complete a series of planning steps before receiving seed funding. Successful applicants are introduced to one of a network of ‘community generators’ whose role is to co-produce the enterprise. Community Generators act as mentors and guides and networkers for those who have received seed funding.

Generator initiatives already underway include teaching chess to children in schools, a nail salon, a bakery, a hangi food service, a courier business, a dance company and a lawn mowing business.

Generator Survey results

The Generator has surveyed around 50 ‘Generites’ who received seed funding for their small enterprise between May and December 2021.

They were asked about their experience of the Generator process, what they appreciated about it, what could be improved, and how their lives had changed as a result of the support of The Generator.

The survey feedback was very positive, with the vast majority of respondents saying the Generator process had given them the confidence, skills and community connections to make their small enterprise work.

Backbone organisation

Following an open tender process, Vaka Tautua and Emerge Aotearoa were selected as the ‘backbone’ organisation to manage the day to day operations of The Generator.

Vaka Tautua is a national ‘by Pacific for Pacific’ health and social service provider that aims to help improve the health and wellbeing of Pacific people. Emerge Aotearoa provides a wide range of community-based mental health, addiction, disability support and social housing services nationwide. The Ministry is working closely with these two organisations to ensure a close working relationship with the BFC sector.

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