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The Brave Venture wins big at GEN NZ awards!

The entrepreneurial community in New Zealand recently came together for the highly anticipated Global Entrepreneurship Network New Zealand Awards (GEN NZ), where innovation, excellence, and community collaboration took centre stage.

The atmosphere was electric, reflecting the warmth and camaraderie that defines the New Zealand ecosystem. Hosted at GridAKL on the viaduct in Auckland, the awards evening allowed those in attendance to reconnect with the wider ecosystem whānau and welcome new entrepreneurs, investors, and contributors into its ever-expanding circle. GEN NZ’s mission to “Connect entrepreneurs to the people and resources they need to thrive locally and globally” was on full display, highlighting the remarkable power of these connections. GEN NZ’s organisers, particularly Lea-Ann de Maxton and emcee Colart Miles, energy and dedication made the night memorable.

One of the most cherished moments of the evening was the recognition of the exceptional contributions of individuals and organisations that have left an indelible mark on New Zealand’s entrepreneurial landscape. The Brave Venture’s Ripyl programme was honoured as the “Youth Programme of the Year,” a testament to their unwavering commitment to nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit in our youth.

“Our team was humbled to be nominated for Youth Programme of the Year in New Zealand for 2023,” says Dave Craig, founder of The Brave Venture. “We’re on a mission to change a generation of learners, and to be acknowledged alongside finalists Young Enterprise and Flying Geese as organisations that are making a difference to the lives of our ākonga, is truly awesome. We couldn’t believe it when we heard our name as the winner.”

The Brave Venture’s youth programme, Ripyl, has had over 1,200 students participate since its inception. It takes students on a journey, teaches essential skills and compliments teachers’ work in school. Its core fundamental difference is the lack of technology that is used in the classroom. “We get back to basics. Students traditionally use three items: a pencil, a piece of paper, and their brain,” says The Brave Venture CEO Lance Bickford. “In the start-up world, we call that our competitive advantage.”

The Brave Venture’s plans for 2024 are underway, where over 2,500 students will participate across 5 regions in New Zealand. “We have a clear pathway to help develop our youth, creating vibrant young people excited and equipped to take on the world,” says Dave Craig.

The complete list of award winners from GEN NZ are –

  • Academic Initiative of the Year: Velocity – The University of Auckland Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programme.

  • GEN NZ Connector of the Year: Pauli Sosa.

  • Entrepreneur of the Year: Rick Kiessig of Kimer Med.

  • Entrepreneur Support Organization of the Year: Doso, previously known as Startup Taranaki.

  • Investor of the Year: Maria Jose (MJ) Alvarez of WNT Ventures.

  • Māori Entrepreneur of the Year: Kaye Maree Dunn.

  • Public Sector Initiative of the Year: Jenny Douché from Callaghan Innovation.

  • Social Entrepreneur of the Year: Sasha Lockley of Money Sweetspot.

  • Youth Programme of the Year: The Brave Venture.

  • Special Award: Suse Reynolds.

GEN NZ’s Awards Night is a testament to its commitment to being community-driven, with the community nominating and judging the awards. This spirit of collaboration, inclusion, and recognition shines through in every aspect of the organisation, including its annual Awards Night.

The evening was a powerful reminder of GEN NZ’s dedication to fostering a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem for Aotearoa, New Zealand, with The Brave Venture taking a significant role in this inspiring journey.


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