Taimahi took a coffee cart and ran with it

November 25, 2022

Taimahi Trust has come a long way from a coffee cart with four guys on the side of the road to a group of micro-enterprises providing great food and eco-products to Whangārei and beyond.

Taimahi still operates its mobile coffee cart but has added a drive-thru hāngī every Friday night in Whangārei. Its retail store provides affordable fresh fruit and vegetables in partnership with the

Foodtogether national collective. Its online store, Earth & Honey, sells eco-friendly beeswax food wraps and sustainable, organic products. Taimahi is also developing an organic herb garden in its hothouses for use in its commercial kitchen and for sale through its Foodtogether Fresh store and online.

The vision of Taimahi founders Rachel and Alison Faithfull was always greater than a single coffee cart – it’s about independence not dependence. Both women have a business background and sons with Down syndrome and see the potential of micro-enterprises in providing meaningful and ongoing employment.

“That coffee cart started this whole thing off. I bought it to give Nathan a job – because for him there were no jobs,” Rachel says.

That was in 2017. In 2019 Rachel and Alison started Taimahi to develop the abilities they know their sons, and other people with intellectual disabilities, have. The IHC Foundation contributed $5000 towards a new $7000 coffee machine and after that there was no stopping them.

“This coffee machine has enabled real barista training for Nathan and for others who would never have had the opportunity to develop this capability. And our customers love the coffee they make.”

In September 2020, Taimahi Trust received $995,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund to train 30 people aged 18–25 with intellectual disabilities and high social needs to work in horticulture, hospitality and retail. Trainees do an initial training programme that focuses on employability, for example, personal hygiene and how to catch the bus. There is an automatic progression from trainee to intern.

Rachel says Taimahi is getting support from the Ministry of Social Development to pay wages, and its aim is to be a self-sufficient social enterprise.

“Our approach is work-based. Our people learn by seeing, then doing and receiving feedback to help improve and master their work. This is, for most of our team, the first time they have had real workplace expectations placed on them.”

She says families are reporting a huge growth in confidence and relationships as trainees discover their identities through working, having their talents and skills recognised and working with others.

“Customers and visitors to the Trust say there is a feeling about Taimahi that is hard to describe. It’s a feeling of positive energy they say. It’s all about building capability to make better decisions.

“There is no shortage of ideas when you take an entrepreneurial view.”

Caption: Nathan Owre at work at the Taimahi Foodtogether Fresh store.


This story was published in Strong Voices. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members. Read the full issue of Strong Voices or view more articles.