1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Newsletters
  4.  » ACEW Newsletter: July 2023

ACEW Newsletter: July 2023

Chris Woods


Kia ora koutou – welcome to the second ACEW newsletter.

It has been a pretty full on year – a lot happening, particularly with students in the INNOVENT 310 Women and Entrepreneurship course which ran in Semester One.  This newsletter will focus on this course but before doing that, I do want to briefly share three things:

First, ACEW was successful in our bid to co-host The Diana International Research Conference in July 2025. The bid was put together with the assistance of Auckland Unlimited and the Events Team at the University. This Conference is the premier international conference on women’s entrepreneurship that brings together more than 100 scholars worldwide to share research dedicated to gender and women’s entrepreneurship. Planning for this wonderful opportunity is now underway.

Second, in our first newsletter we mentioned a major piece of research with NZTE, focused on women led exporters. We have completed our report title Igniting Capabilities which is now available on our website. In addition, there two one page Research snapshots: the first sets the scene and the second summarises the thematic analysis and key recommendations. Explore the findings from recent research carried out by ACEW staff and associates in short, accessible summaries.

Third, I have been invited to give one of the Raising the Bar talks on 29 August – below is a summary of what I plan to talk about and a link to register.

Remove the bar: allyship, mentoring, paying forward for women entrepreneurs

While more women than ever before are starting and growing their own business ventures, they still face barriers because of their gender. These include access to finance, juggling work and family life, and getting the right support to navigate the business environment. The result is that at every stage of the entrepreneurial journey, women are underrepresented compared to men. This talk will explore how allyship, mentoring and paying it forward can support women in their entrepreneurial journey. Drawing on over 20 years of experience working in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, both within the University and in the wider business community, Chris will share insights that speak to the challenge of ‘removing the bar’.

Register for Raising the Bar talks

Turning now to INNOVENT 310 Women and Entrepreneurship, Ella Namaguchi will share her reflections from the first half of the course. Following this there are updates on two ventures  developed in the second half of the course : Girls Mean Business and Ambition Amplify.

Reflections on INNOVENT310: Women and Entrepreneurship (Ella Numaguchi)

Heading into the INNOVENT310 course, my initial expectation was that it would offer a departure from my previous studies, particularly in Finance and Economics, by providing diversified ways to learn the content and an official introduction to the ideas of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Over the first six weeks, successful New Zealand businesswomen who shared with us included Zarina Bazoeva, Kate Gatfield-Jefferies, Rachael Petero, Mel Spencer, Bex Gidall and Natalie Robinson. The presence of a variety of speakers enriched the course content, keeping it engaging and dynamic. It was undeniable that each speaker’s experiences and story were valuable to each student. I particularly appreciated hearing first-hand knowledge about balancing work and life overcoming the challenges of being the only woman in the boardroom.

Besides the inspirational fuel provided by the guest speakers, the course heavily revolved around understanding the concepts presented in Feminine Capital: Unlocking the Power of Women Entrepreneurs. Chapters from the text aligned with the week’s guest speaker so that the entrepreneurs’ experiences enhanced my understanding of the course material. For instance, Chapter 5 introduced the concept of social capital spheres, which I found particularly intriguing. This concept was further refined by guest speaker Natalie Robinson, who focused on the role of mentors as the third sphere. Her explanation clarified the essence of a mentor and their valuable contributions, providing practical context to the reading material.

As I entered the course with minimal formal education on entrepreneurship, especially concerning women, there was much room for growth. However, through the guest speakers, chapter readings, and lectures, I now have a much better understanding of women’s entrepreneurial identity. Before the course, I believed in common myths, such as entrepreneurs being exclusively people who started a business. Through Mel Spencer’s presentation, I better understood what makes one an entrepreneur, how it is not exclusive to being a founder and more about the growth and development of a business, doing something unique. The concept of an entrepreneurial identity has many elements; for example, Rachel Petero spoke on intersectionality, going beyond gender to cultural identity as an indigenous woman. The relationship between women and entrepreneurship is dynamic and exists beyond the confines of the business.

The INNOVENT310 course begins my entrepreneurial journey.. I am inspired to pursue an avenue I would not have otherwise considered due to my new understanding of entrepreneurial skills, particularly regarding the venture creation process which was the focus of the second half of the course. For me this course finds the right balance between guest lecturers sharing real-world experiences, a unique group venture creation project, and individual learning. Professor Christine Woods ensures that each student leaves the course with new perspectives, not just entrepreneurship and innovation but the business world as a whole.

Girls Mean Business (Sophie Bradley)

Girls Mean Business (GMB) builds on an idea that was  presented in the second half of INNOVENT 310 by Professor Chris Woods. GMB is an entrepreneurial leadership programme aimed at Year 7& 8 girls to introduce them to the world of business and entrepreneurship. A group of five of us choose to develop this idea to empower the next generation of inspiring young minds. Specifically, GMB will be a five-day holiday program where groups of girls will be taught the basics of business and entrepreneurship, with an opportunity to apply these new skills and create their very own business, competing in a business-like environment.

We have achieved several key milestones, primarily establishing a solid connection to the University of Auckland Women in Business (UAWB) and the Aotearoa Centre for Enterprising Women (ACEW). We are working with Chris to secure funding and volunteers from UAWB and ACEW. We plan for GMB to become a part of UAWB, where we will create an Executive Team so that this team can continue to grow our vision, allowing us to expand our resources.

Throughout the next few months, the GMB team will be planning and preparing for our ‘taster’ event in week six of this semester, where we will hold an introductory session at a school to raise awareness for our program as well as to have a ‘test-run’. On November 17th, we will invite teams of girls from intermediate schools across Auckland to the Centre for Entrepreneurship to our launch event.

We also hope to develop an online course and create a website to allow us to expand throughout New Zealand. We want to partner with Girl Guides to create a Girl Guides badge for girls to earn once completing a GMB program – we provide all learning resources and materials, allowing for a stress-free learning experience.

Ambition Amplify (Holly Mace & Lillie Cripps)

What is Ambition Amplify?

The transition from university into the professional world has the potential to be exhilarating, filled with opportunities. However, it can be extremely challenging to navigate. There are many paths to take. Do we want to become a CEO, or do we want to climb the corporate ladder? Gender Equality is critical to achieving a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world, but we cannot achieve this in the entrepreneurial and corporate ecosystem if women have fewer opportunities than men.

Our mentoring programme uses artificial intelligence to produce high-quality mentor mentee matches tailored to specific needs. We aim to help young female graduates thrive in their first chapter out of university – growing confidence, gaining interview advice or advancing specific industry skills, Ambition Amplified finds you a mentor based on your specific needs. We aim to address gender inequality by empowering females to amplify their ambition.

What have we done to this date?

Ambition Amplified was inspired by our passion for female empowerment. We both work in the property industry – heavily male dominated and saw a gap in the market for a mentoring programme directed at female graduates (from all industries).  INNOVENT310 was a catalyst for our mentoring programme. The course focused on the theory of feminine capital, which challenged our beliefs and deeply formed stereotypes of what it means to be an entrepreneur. It has reframed our view of women in entrepreneurship to be change makers and leaders of the world. After completing a 1,000 word individual idea challenge, we then collaborated in teams to refine our idea, producing a venture summary report and pitch.

Next steps (pilot programme)

With the drive to bring our idea to life, Lillie and Holly are currently developing a pilot programme to be launched in September with our early adopters from our personal networks. This is an opportunity for us to gain some valuable feedback from both mentees and mentors in the Ambition Amplified community to help us refine our offering. For those interested in being a mentee (recently graduated in the past 1-2 years) please fill out the form below:


If you have any questions or see a way you could be a part of Ambition Amplified we would love to hear from you – helloambitionamplified@gmail.com

 So that’s it for now – please feel free to get in touch if you would like to find out more about anything discussed in this newsletter. Till then, look forward to sharing a drink with you at the Birdcage at Raising the Bar.

Ngā mihi

Chris Woods

Director, Aotearoa Centre for Enterprising Women



Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest news, events and articles in your inbox

For information on how we collect and use your data, please read our Privacy Policy