Families building stronger financial outcomes

Two years after launching, The Generator is continuing to help enterprising Kiwis experiencing financial hardship to pave their way to a stronger financial future and improve their wellbeing.

Ann Gafo, a single mother who moved to New Zealand from Samoa four years ago, has used The Generator to turn her sewing and craft skills into a successful small enterprise.

Initially Ann and her six children lived with family members before they started moving around different places, including a rental property that was hazardous to their health. While searching for a more suitable home with a housing support provider, Ann was told about The Generator.

The Generator is a joint initiative between Emerge Aotearoa Trust and Vaka Tautua, funded by the Ministry of Social Development. It provides seed funding and business mentorship to help people on low incomes kickstart their own business or venture, and improve their financial situation. To date, more than $1.06 million in seed funding has been distributed by The Generator to people around the country. More than two thirds of participants either no longer require the benefit or are transitioning off it as they build financial independence.

A talented sewer, Ann was able to create a business and marketing plan with The Generator and buy the sewing machine and material she needed to start her own business, La Norah’s Sewing and Crafts. She creates traditional and high-end Samoan fashion using the sewing skills she learnt back home from her mother and even paints the fabric she uses with skills she learnt from her father, who was an artist. Now, she is selling the clothing she makes through Facebook to people across Aotearoa and is even receiving orders from people living in Australia and Samoa.

“The first time I tried to set up a microenterprise it didn’t work because I didn’t have the equipment I needed,” Ann says. “I didn’t know how to market online either as I had never done it before. Thanks to The Generator, I now have some of the equipment I need and I now know how to cost things properly to work out what the best use and return on my time and skills is.”

Ann said being involved with The Generator had empowered her to improve her family’s lifestyle with the extra money she is making from her business.

“I can now do more for my family and can get things that we couldn’t afford before like sports gear for my kids. I am also able to save a little bit to put towards the growth of my business so that one day I may be able to have a small fabric shop in Papakura. It makes me happy within myself and gives me hope because I can see a future for my family with the business,” she says.

While the COVID-19 lockdowns have impacted Ann being able to sell her clothing at markets, she has quickly adapted her business and has been making reusable face masks, which have been very popular. Overall, she says that The Generator has helped her to grow her self-confidence and she is enjoying learning how to operate and sustain a business.