Coffee and sex are winners in new multimillion-dollar business fund

A sexual lubricant made from organic hempseed and a brand of fair-trade instant coffee will benefit from a new multimillion-dollar initiative to support entrepreneurs.

Two Bay of Plenty startups, Come Clean, which aims to destigmatize lube, and Critical Supply, a fair trade coffee company, were selected from more than 500 businesses across Aotearoa in a competition where entrepreneurs had to demonstrate how their business addressed a social or environmental issue.

The competition was organized by Brianne West, the founder of the zero-waste beauty product Ethique, who earlier this year established a $20 million fund to assist other local entrepreneurs with business development.

West initiated the competition during the first phase of the fund’s launch in an effort to bring attention to the difficulties faced by social enterprises, which have a 95% failure rate within their first decade of operation.

Winners share a prize pool of $140,000 in cash and mentoring, but West is calling for more assistance for purpose-driven businesses in the Bay of Plenty region, as feedback from startups indicates that specialized knowledge is more valuable than a cash injection.

“The quality of Bay of Plenty’s submissions was exceptionally high, but it is evident from the volume of submissions that there is a chronic lack of local support infrastructure for startups seeking to address environmental issues.”

Tom Lear, co-founder of Critical Supply, which imports fair trade instant coffee from Tanzania, says that while sustainable business goals are gaining momentum, there is a need for guidance and support for growth.

“There is a growing consensus that a company can do good and still generate a profit.

“The notion that you don’t have to be a non-profit to make a difference is a really important message for startups to understand today, and it’s one we want others in our position to hear,” he said.

Read more • stuff.co.nz

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