Established as a social enterprise that aims to bridge professional opportunities with rangatahi, the project’s main focus is to help young Māori succeed in the community and in business.
It all started with Rahiri and Pahemata noticing that - despite having been a part of some amazing opportunities themselves - their community rarely saw professional openings for rangatahi, and that many young Māori didn't have the networks that could connect them to these. With that, the concept of professional network matchmaking emerged, and the girls got working on making it a reality.
“We aim to grow our rangatahi to be leaders in academia, in Te Ao Māori, in sports, whatever path they decide to follow,” say the founders.
There are three parts to Project Rangatahi: the primary kaupapa includes scholarships, internships, work experience, mentorship and the like for potential match-ups. The second part is a database containing content from current leaders, influencers, and other role models and thirdly, the business also offers third-party consultancy.
Not bad for a couple of busy teenagers from a town with a population of only 4000. Rahiri is currently juggling Project Rangatahi with a tertiary degree, while Pahemata is busy with Diploma studies. Both are also in their final year at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Kahungunu o Te Wairoa and run their business as participants in The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme – No Big Deal.
One of their biggest supporters is their teacher at Eastern Institute of Technology, Rebecca Clarke, who has supported Project Rangatahi since its inception:
“Project Rangatahi has been one of my most interesting student projects to watch unfold in many years. These two girls have wonderful aspiration and vision for our future rangatahi and they are trying to create a tangible model that will assist with the networking and connections for leaders and youth in the community. What a wonderful concept and I can’t wait to watch it unfold,” says Clarke.
Currently, Project Rangatahi connects rangatahi aged 16-21 with companies and organisations and vice versa, in order to develop rangatahi and change the current ‘social’ environment. Rahiri and Pahemata’s work is far from done with goals of growing participation numbers, expanding age brackets and regions, and increasing collaboration on their to-do list.
“We are always looking for new and old ways to help our participants and improve our way of doing things” say the founders.
Project Rangatahi is aiming for the top ten in the Hawkes Bay regional competition for The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme. Watch this space.