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Micro business is a platform for developing work skills and networks among the business sector and other places in the community.


Entrepreneurs build new skills of sourcing, collecting, producing/servicing, delivering, selling and recording, and take up new responsibilities and roles.


They enjoy their new ventures and become accountable for their actions. Their confidence and self esteem reach another level.

People ask us,

“What have you done to your children?”

Their achievements through microbusinesses are beyond our initial expectations. It became a life changing experience for some people.

The Manawatu Families Action Support Team (FAST) has a microbusiness committee. Members enjoy helping other families and people set up microbusinesses so they can contribute to their communities and earn some money.

Here are some of our young people’s stories:

Tim: a journey to full citizenship

After leaving school, Tim’s parents found it very difficult to motivate him to doing anything other than stay in his rural family home, playing computer games and watch DVD’s in his room. Tim has Aspergers Syndrome . His parents knew he had a passion for films and acting, but could not convince him to become involved in this.

A facilitator helped Tim set up a circle of support. He joined the Special Olympics Ten Pin Bowling League and met other people with disabilities. He grew in confidence and became more outgoing.

During a Big Plan session, he decided that he wanted to own his own video shop. To begin this process and introduce him to the world of commerce, the FAST Microbusiness committee granted Tim $300 towards the purchase of DVD’s and Videos via Trademe. With his Dad’s help Tim purchased 130 titles. FAST organised two market stalls, where Tim sold over half his stock, generating a reasonable profit. His confidence in dealing with the public grew enormously.

Tim began going to a gym to improve his fitness and decided to enrol at UCOL to study for a Certificate in Performing Arts. He completed the 6 month certificate course and this made him more self-assured and transformed him into a confident young man. He then set out to enter into film production and a member of his circle of support, who made documentaries, introduced him to the work of film and television.

While studying at UCOL Tim moved in the city of Palmerston North. His parents were concerned but he learnt the necessary skills with the support of his mentors. The $300 grant did not take Tim toward a video shop, but it built up his confidence and enabled him to grow from a secluded introvert, to a more self-assured person. He is currently studying at a film school and dreams of someday working on Sir Peter Jackson’s team.

Through small steps, Tim has become a full citizen of a vibrant city. At times, he finds his schedule at Film School challenging, but because he is truly passionate and focused on his career, he can push through the tough bits and achieve more than his family ever thought possible. His journey has been inspiring.

Robin Chok’s Story, by Lawrence Chok

Click here to listen to Lawrence talking about setting up a microbusiness for Robin.

Robin is very quiet and says little. When he left school, he was not very confident, especially in large crowds. My wife, Nancy and I, hoped he would become involved in the community and engage more with people. He watched a lot of TV and depended on our family to take him out. At the beginning of our FAST journey, he wasn’t expected to look after himself, and definitely not expected to contribute. Robin was born with Downs Syndrome.

Robin is an orderly person and enjoyed collecting washing from the line and folding clothes neatly. In his final year at the high school, he did some work experience at a laundry contracting firm. The staff loved his tidy and neat work.


During a session with his circle of support, Robin said he would like to have a laundry business. However the priority was to set him up in independent living and he moved to a townhouse with his younger brother as a flatmate.


After a year, his brother left and Robin continues to live there, with two university students as flatmates. He began engaging with them as they watch TV and share meals.

Six months after leaving home, Robin started his business. He was given a grant to purchase a washing machine and dryer and began washing tea towels for Day Care Centre.

As an entrepreneur, he takes responsibility to ensure he delivers the clean towels on time to his customers. 

He became much more confident and his self esteem reached to a new level.

Since living independently, he goes to his bowling practice by taxi and never misses his weekly practice. He has twice represented Manawatu in national games, winning gold and bronze medals. Robin also competes with other teams at the regional level.

Robin also loves art. He started with water colour painting and later learnt to paint with oils. He now joins lessons in stone carving at the Te Manawa museum. He has sold his paintings to people in Australia and Borneo and gets repeat orders from Canada.  He is considering enrolling at an art school in Wellington.


Robin also travels with his Dad sharing his story and the FAST journey around New Zealand.


He has come a long way from being cared for by family and watching TV. Not only he has become an adult but is now a citizen contributing to his community.

Craig’s Story

Craig is reasonably outgoing and is involved in lawn bowls, indoor bowls and Special Olympics Ten Pin Bowling. He has been involved with Manawatu Special Olympics since 1986, represented New Zealand at the International Special Olympics in 1999 in Power Lifting and achieved 1 Gold and 3 sliver medals, 65/75k weight divsion. He has won many medals in regional, national and Australia international events. Craig has general developmental delay.


Craig worked unpaid and part-time at a local department chain store, working in the inwards goods section. We discovered that he had a passion for woodwork. He spent many hours cutting intricate shapes with his scroll saw.

Our microbusiness committee saw this as a potential form of income and encouraged him to turn his hobby into a business.


They granted him a small sum to purchase a Dremel woodworking tool, enabling him to produce more professional woodwork.

Craig joined the local Woodworkers Guild in 2005 and several members became part of his mentors and joined his support circle. The circle organises market stalls so he can sell his products locally. He also sells his products at conferences around the country. He enjoys making the products, and has developed new designs to meet customer preferences. He is truly a professional businessman.

Craig has recently moved into his own home and will use part of the garage for his woodwork. This bigger working space will help him expand his business.

A video story of microbusiness:
Vivienne Thompson and Anne Westerskov  (2012)
Vivienne is Anne's mother. Anne is passionate about meeting new people and developing her art business. She is an emerging artist interested in developing a micro-business as part of the portfolio of experiences she wants to learn from.
The communication and team work skills she will acquire during this experience will not only help develop her business but also improve her chances to get employed if she wants to later. 
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