An enterprise promoting Auckland’s first ever Pacific cuisine restaurant has taken the equity crowd funding route for raising capital.
KP Auckland Limited is looking at setting up Kai Pasifika, which will showcase cuisines of the South Pacific Islands region. Fronted by multiple award winning celebrity chef and well known Pacific cuisine expert Robert Oliver, Kai Pasifika hopes to fill a glaring gap in Auckland’s cuisine scene, which features a wide range of the world’s major cuisine styles except the Pacific. This is despite being the world’s largest Polynesian city.
Why the crowd funding route to raise equity?
“While we wanted investors, we also wanted to create a community around the restaurant whose culture this is based on; [for them] to be able to not only visit but even own a part of it,” says co-promoter Kenina Court, the company’s Chief Financial Officer.
“We know it’s the harder way to do it, but it seems fitting to the nature of the whole project. Investment opportunities are often out of reach – this is not. We did this for the Pacific community and we hope they’ll get behind it – everyone we’ve spoken to says it’s a wonderful idea,” she added. “This investment opportunity does represent something unique both here in Auckland and the wider market. Pacific people need a place to call their own.”
The equity crowd funding campaign is currently running on the Pledgeme platform. The share offer is to purchase shares in KP Auckland Limited, the company that will own and operate the first two Kai Pasifika Auckland Restaurants. The minimum investment to pledge to own a share parcel is just $500. The campaign is looking to raise a minimum of $450,000 and a maximum of $600,000.
“Almost anyone could be involved, and the beauty of crowdfunding is it takes away a lot of the cost of working with small investors, so it makes our desire to make this available to everyone easy. And as an equity campaign, people are buying shares so they are actually getting something for their money … shares that we hope will reward them for the faith they have placed in us and Kai Pasifika,” Ms Court said.
Kai Pasifika is a concept that incorporates a holistic business approach with financial, social and cultural development objectives. Explaining the idea, Ms Court said, “Pacific needs Kai Pasifika on so many different levels – to showcase Pacific cuisine and products from the islands, train our young people to the highest standards in all aspects of hospitality, build Pacific capability in the hospitality sector, set a new standard of paying a living wage, transform the perception of Pacific cuisine and so much more.”
Elaborating on the concept further Ms Court said, “We really want to promote food trade between New Zealand and the islands. Cuisine is the shopfront for food products, the culture and unique packaging. Robert’s work in China with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise has created a strong awareness of just how important this is. Accelerating trade from the islands to New Zealand is a core part of our mission.”
Chef Robert Oliver’s celebrity status and well-received media image are key to the Kai Pasifika idea. His books Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific, which was named the Gourmand Best Cook Book of the World 2010, Gourmand’s top prize, and Mea’ai Samoa, which in May 2014 was named the winner of the Gourmand Award for Best TV Chef Cookbook in The World 2013, have been feted the world over. He has also had a string of successful television appearances.
“I think the fact that we will be the first Pacific cuisine restaurant in Auckland is really cool. And that our shareholders will be part of a community that they can be part of and contribute to, as well as being able to say they’re one of Robert’s business partners,” Ms Court said.
Asked about the progress of the campaign so far, Ms Court said, “We think [the campaign] is going well, probably better than what it looks like on the platform, based on the various meetings we’ve had with people who are interested in investing.
“Typically campaigns have the most activity in the last week (everyone leaves it to the last minute!) and we have some large investors looking to come on board. We’d really encourage people to get on board now, before they miss out …”
The Pledgme campaign is on until October 29 8pm (NZ time).