Young entrepreneurs rewarded

The founders of a juice business and a crowdfunding site have been crowned winners at the Young Enterprise Alumni Awards.
Givealittle founder Nathalie Whitaker

The founders of a juice business and a crowdfunding site have been crowned the inaugural winners at the Young Enterprise Alumni Awards.

There are about 70,000 New Zealanders who took part in a programme for young entrepreneurs while at school.

 “The Young Enterprise Scheme has been operating in schools for 35 years, and we took 2016 as our opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our amazing alumni,” says Young Enterprise chief executive Terry Shubkin.

Nathalie Whitaker, who founded New Zealand’s first crowdfunding site Givealittle in 2008, won the Emerging Alumni Award.

Givealittle has facilitated more than $55 million since it started, to the benefit of tens of thousands of people and causes.

Ms Whitaker, who went through the Young Enterprise Scheme in 2000 and 2001, beat Crimson Consulting chief executive Jamie Beaton, Unfiltered chief executive Jake Millar and Te Whare Hukahuka chief executive Shay Wright to the award.

Charlie's Group co-founder Stefan Lepionka, who took part in enterprise scheme at St Patrick’s College Silverstream, was awarded Distinguished Alumni. His juice company, which he remained chief executive of until the start of this year, listed on the NZX in 2006 before being sold to Asahi in 2011. 

Mr Lepionka won the award ahead of fellow finalists Nigel Bamford (co-founder of Escea), Paul Brock (chief executive of Kiwibank), and Lisa King (founder of Eat My Lunch).

More than a dozen student companies – with products such as storybooks, almond milk ice cream and dog treats – won a share of a $30,000 prize pool.