Small Businesses Can Dream Big with Kete Accelerator Programme

Upcycled food, a new range of nut and seed milk concentrates and poi are among the products that may soon be appearing on shelves with the support of Countdown’s brand-new business accelerator programme Kete.

After a tough selection process, which saw 170 applicants whittled down to 10 finalists who were then put through their paces in a dragons’ den-style presentation process, Countdown have announced the five small Kiwi businesses who they will work with over the next year to help get their products shelf ready.

With Kete, Countdown is empowering five small and diverse businesses to achieve their own version of success through a 12 month programme specially designed to make a meaningful difference to each business.  Each of the businesses chosen to be part of Kete will receive a package worth over $250,000 including a $20,000 cash grant, customer marketing support, access to Countdown customer insights, product development and manufacturing support, and mentorship from experts across Countdown.

Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s Director Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability said that Countdown is determined to support the growth of small, diverse businesses in Aotearoa and it’s been incredible to hear the passion, innovation and love being poured into each business that applied for Kete.

“Myself and a panel of other senior leaders at Countdown held virtual sessions with each of the ten businesses that made it to the Kete shortlist, and spending time with each of these amazing businesses was an absolute highlight of the year for all of us. It was no easy task to choose the final five to be a part of Kete but we’ve ended up with a fantastic, diverse mix - all with a strong focus on sustainability, community and innovation.”

“Kete is going to give these five diverse entrepreneurs and innovators a complete toolbox of support and resources to help turn their dreams into reality and we’re thrilled to be able to help take these businesses to the next level - for some that’ll mean going from a kitchen at home all the way to the shelves in our stores!” said Hannifin.

Countdown is working with Amotai, Aotearoa’s supplier diversity intermediary, throughout Kete to ensure the accelerator delivers meaningful results for the businesses involved.

Frae Cairns, Amotai’s Capability Manager says programmes like Kete are really important in accelerating the success of diverse businesses in Aotearoa and it’s fantastic to see organisations like Countdown keen to use their resources to foster the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.

“It can be incredibly challenging to reach your goals as a small, minority-owned business and this programme is going to be a fantastic opportunity for five businesses to really push themselves to the next level, all the while getting plenty of wraparound support and expertise from the Countdown team.”

“It’s in-depth, meaningful and will really make a difference to the future of each business and to the ongoing mahi to diversify the business world here in Aotearoa”

Some of the Kete line-up:

Pōtiki Poi:

Pōtiki Poi was started by 14 year old Georgia Latu (Ngāi Tahu) when she needed to fundraise for a Kura trip and two years later, Pōtiki Poi is now the world’s biggest producer of Aotearoa original poi, stocked in retailers across the globe.

The next goal for the small, Otago-based business was to find more ways for all Kiwis to readily access one of Aotearoa’s greatest taonga - poi.

Georgia Latu, founder and owner of Potiki Poi, says that Countdown’s Kete programme is the perfect opportunity to make this goal a reality.

“The toolbox of support that Countdown is offering with Kete will really be a game changer for us as we keep growing and innovating, and being stocked on the shelves of Countdown stores across the motu is going to be amazing”

Mylk Made:

Mylk Made is a North Canterbury based business run by Jemma and Corinne. The mum and daughter team make plant  mylk concentrates in a range of delicious flavours from macadamia to creamy lavender and everything in between.

The concentrates come in a reusable glass jar which customers can then take home and mix with water to make delicious milks.

Jemma Turner, founder and director of Mylk Made says that she’s incredibly excited to take Mylk Made to the next level with Kete and make it easier for Kiwis to access low waste, more sustainable plant milk options.


Sobhna’s was started in 2008, by Subhadra Odedra after she found herself locked out of the job market in her late fifties. Initially selling samosa and pakora at local farmers markets, she later moved onto selling authentic curry pastes and spice blends . The delicious offering has rapidly found a loyal customer base with New Zealanders and the mother and daughter duo are now ready to take their products to supermarket shelves across Aotearoa.

Nimeesha Odedra, one half of the team behind Sobhna’s says they are thrilled to  be a part of Kete and are looking forward to bringing authentic Indian curry pastes and spice blends to Countdown’s customers.

“We’re so excited to accelerate Sobhna’s over the next 12 months and just can’t wait for everyone to be able to pick up a jar of our curry paste at Countdown and take it home to make authentic Indian food using our quick and easy recipes.  ”


Rescued is a brand new venture that upcycles food that would otherwise be wasted into healthy and tasty new products like crostini, crackers, dips and relishes. The business has its heart in sustainability and community - with all the items packed by Attainable Trust, an organisation that provides meaningful employment to people with diverse abilities.

Rescued founder, Diane Stanbra, says that she’s excited to bring the business to life with the help of Countdown’s Kete programme.

“It’s been a dream of mine for a while now to get Rescued off the ground and help address New Zealand’s food waste problem while also making delicious products! Kete is just the thing to make it happen, I can’t wait to work with the Countdown team to develop and launch our range.”

Ikuna Taste:

Ikuna Taste is a South Auckland based business run by Fata & Pauline Fotu-Moala, currently selling a selection of keto and plant based cakes, desserts and treats and now with Kete, getting ready to launch a Keto cookie mix.

Ikuna Taste founder, Pauline, says that she’s looking forward to bringing the new product to market and giving Kiwis an easier way to make delicious, Keto treats.

“Kete is the perfect opportunity for us to diversify our offering and take Ikuna Taste to the next level, I can’t wait to get started!”