The founder of a successful New Zealand beauty brand has launched a $20 million fund to help other local entrepreneurs develop their businesses.
But she said a lack of ready capital was making it harder for entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground.
To help with this, West has launched Nous Labs, an organisation that provides investment, and mentoring, for environmentally and socially focused enterprises in their early stages of growth.
West said it was critical that more be done to allow startups to reach maturity, or run the risk of missing huge opportunities for the domestic economy.
Data from Stats NZ show startup survival rates declined 45% over the past six years.
But West said it was particularly hard for businesses that aimed to solve a social or environmental issue.
“Only around 5% of social enterprise startups survive through their first decade. Businesses which are mission-driven often face additional barriers in reaching the next stage of their lifecycle and lack the support and infrastructure needed for long term viability,” she said.
The reason social enterprises were even more difficult to get off the ground than a normal business was that it often introduced a new concept to the market which required a higher investment or more significant R&D costs at an early stage, she said.
Nous Labs has launched with $20million to strategically target this group of social enterprise entrepreneurs.
The fund aimed to support very early stage product brands to launch, then to help scale domestic products for international distribution.
The company is currently offering a support package for the early-stage businesses that fit this brief valued at $140,000.
The fund is open to anyone from tertiary students to existing startups, as long as they can identify a social or sustainability problem they are seeking to change and details of how that will be achieved, she said.
West is aware of the difference early support can make when starting a small business. While at university, she entered and won the EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, which accelerated the growth of Ethique, she said.
Ethique now supplies a line of regenerative beauty products to thousands of retailers in over 25 countries.
“Having entered a competition that helped me reach mentors and access support while I was studying at university, I recognise the need to help bring socially focused entrepreneurs through the initial stage of their startup development.”