Minister for Youth's 2016 International Leadership Award

Top young entrepreneurs from New Zealand visited China as part of a Ministerial delegation in September, in order to increase and deepen their knowledge about innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in a country with a burgeoning start-up scene.

Delegates at China New Zealand Young Leaders Forum

Delegates take part in a panel discussion at the China New Zealand Young Leaders Forum

The ten young leaders were awarded the Minister for Youth’s 2016 International Leadership Award (the Award), and joined 40 other young entrepreneurs and change makers from New Zealand, where they took part in the China New Zealand Young Leaders Forum (the Forum).

The Forum attracted over 100 young leaders from both countries and included cultural performances, a panel discussion by keynote speakers, a site visit to a cutting-edge innovation and incubator hub, and roundtable discussions with young entrepreneurs.

While in Beijing, the youth delegation visited Huawei’s Research and Development Centre, and attended a lunch and NZ Embassy networking function with Beijing-based young entrepreneurs working in tech, innovation, and social enterprise.

The group ended their time in China with a one-day programme in Shanghai which gave the group a taste of the city’s growing start-up scene. This included a site visit to local incubator XNode and a roundtable session with Shanghai-based entrepreneurs. The group also attended an event at New Zealand Central, which provided a great opportunity to network and meet with the wider New Zealand community in Shanghai.

The Forum was an incredibly valuable experience for the members of the youth delegation. They left China with a better understanding of the current entrepreneurship and start-up scene, and the potential opportunities there are for young New Zealand entrepreneurs in China. One delegate had this to say:

“I hope this opportunity continues for many years to come. The experience was by far one of the most rewarding chances I have had in my four years in a start-up and opened my eyes to the opportunities of such a large market. I'm so excited to share my learnings with other young people and hope one day we see more and more kiwi companies crossing the shores to start business or expand into China.”

An important element of selection for the Award was a commitment to use the international experience to inspire, mentor and foster ongoing leadership opportunities for other young New Zealanders in the recipient’s community upon their return.

Youth delegates have some strong thoughts and ideas around what they are hoping to achieve through their involvement. We’re looking forward to hearing about their plans for future youth development opportunities for other young people, both in their known and yet-to-be discovered networks.

The ten recipients of the 2016 International Leadership Award were:

  • Ezel Kokcu, Co-founder, STQRY
  • Sam Johnson, Director, WeMobilise
  • Bonnie Howland, CEO and founder, Indigo & Iris
  • Toby Carr, CEO, DeXTech
  • Ben Wigley, Co-founder, Banqer
  • Charlizza Harris, CEO and Founder, 2Face Drama and InOvation Trust
  • Kii Small, Student, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Lucy Xie, Founder, Memribox
  • Melody Guo, Co-founder, Future E
  • Nathalie Harrington, Solicitor, Russell McVeagh