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Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Edmund Hillary Fellowship?

The Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF) is an end-to-end programme that gives impact-driven entrepreneurs, investors and startup teams a platform to incubate positive impact ventures from Aotearoa New Zealand, and contribute towards a thriving innovation ecosystem in the country. EHF offers exclusive access to Immigration New Zealand’s new Global Impact Visa.


How does EHF relate to GIVs?

Acceptance into EHF is the only way to gain a Global Impact Visa for New Zealand. For international candidates, acceptance into EHF enables them to apply for the three-year open work visa to lead innovative initiatives in New Zealand. Fellows are eligible for permanent residency after three years, if they are still members of EHF and have contributed to innovation in New Zealand.


Who is this for?

EHF is for entrepreneurs and investors who are innovating in the industry or sector they operate within, with the ambition to build or support globally scalable ventures to solve significant challenges and influence the course of humanity. This programme is for individuals who align with our values, and who have the skills, capabilities, relentless drive and desire to leverage the unique opportunities New Zealand offers, and make game-changing impact on the world.

Learn more about our values to find out if this programme is right for you.


How many places are there?

Over the next four years, there are up to 120 places available each year in EHF. Each year, up to 20 places are reserved for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. A maximum of 100 places are available for international entrepreneurs, investors and startup teams, who can live and work in New Zealand under a Global Impact Visa.

We accept two cohorts each year, with up to 60 Fellows inducted into each cohort.


What's the timeline for the second cohort?

Applications for the second cohort close on 1 October 2017.

After applications close, rough timelines are expected to be:

  • October - November 2017: Formal selection process; shortlisted applicants will be invited to an online interview
  • December 2017: Selected Fellows will be notified and international Fellows will be invited to apply for the Global Impact Visa
  • January - March 2018: Decisions announced on applications for Global Impact Visas
  • April 2018: Successful Fellows attend induction events in New Zealand
Please note that police certificate background checks can take 4-6 months in some countries. In order to avoid delays in obtaining Global Impact Visas, if you have applied, it is a good idea to apply for your police certificate as soon as possible. Details on each country’s specific requirements are here.


What are the personal qualities you are looking for in candidates?

Model Fellows are highly capable and motivated individuals who view the problems in the world as opportunities to significantly improve it. They are big-picture thinkers at the top of their game, who are able to unpack complex problems to understand all the angles, and come up with holistic solutions that connect the dots. They have unwavering passion, relentless drive, and the ability to execute with excellence. Edmund Hillary Fellows also take advantage of the unique opportunities that New Zealand offers.


Is there an application fee?

Yes, there is an application fee to help cover our costs in assessing applications. EHF application fees for international entrepreneurs are set at $850 NZD, while fees for international investors are $3,000 NZD. New Zealand citizens and permanent residents receive a 75% discount on these fees. There is a separate application fee for the Global Impact Visa that is paid to Immigration New Zealand. To calculate the fee to apply for the Global Impact Visa, please use the fee calculator from Immigration New Zealand.

We are committed to ensuring that finances are not a barrier to getting top entrepreneurs into the programme, and as such we have limited scholarships available to subsidise EHF application fees. Scholarships are available to entrepreneurs only.

EHF is a not-for-profit organisation. Please note that the application fees are non-refundable in all circumstances.


Does EHF come with funding?

This is not a funded fellowship. However part of our support to Fellows is to provide access to local and international investment opportunities, and relevant government grants.

Fellows are expected to have access to, or earning potential of $36,000 NZD in maintenance funds to support themselves and their families in their first year in New Zealand, details of which must be supplied during the application process. To learn more about the requirements for maintenance funds and other criteria for the Global Impact Visa, please follow this link (scroll to the bottom of the page and click the pink button that says "Check criteria").


As an entrepreneur, does my venture need to have prior investment to qualify?

Prior investment in your venture is not a requirement for acceptance into EHF. However, investment in your current venture or in past ventures that you have been involved with can strengthen your application by acting as a vote of confidence.

You will need to show that you have the resources and financial ability to get your venture running during the first part of the programme.


How do you select candidates?

Applications to EHF are open year-round, and selection of Fellows occurs twice-yearly through a merit-based application process.

Assessment of Fellows’ applications is conducted against a set of criteria, by a panel of international and Kiwi entrepreneurs, investors and innovators, who are well placed to recognise the traits and characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.

Once accepted into the programme, up to 50 International candidates are able to apply to Immigration New Zealand for a Global Impact Visa. To be granted visas, candidates must show Immigration New Zealand that they meet health, character, and English-language proficiency requirements and have sufficient maintenance funds. Immigration New Zealand provides more information about these criteria and the evidence needed to meet these criteria; please follow this link for more (scroll to the bottom of the page and click the pink button that says "Check criteria"). Once candidates obtain visas, they will be offered spots in the next cohort to begin the three-year EHF programme. If candidates fail to qualify for Global Impact Visas, they will not be offered a place in EHF.


What are the selection criteria?

We are looking for individuals and teams who:

  1. Have a bold vision to solve systemic challenges in society and create large-scale positive impact on New Zealand and the world.
  2. Demonstrate the drive and capability as entrepreneurs or investors to deliver on their vision.
  3. Can build valuable long-term connections with New Zealand and best leverage New Zealand’s unique advantages to innovate.
  4. Can actively and positively contribute to the EHF community, and are people who EHF sees sufficient potential to partner with over 10-20 years.
  5. Will be good ambassadors for NZ and embody and demonstrate EHF values (these include boldness, interconnectedness, excellence, global impact, authenticity, stewardship & humility).


What do you mean by impact?

We define “impact” as solving problems of significance to humanity in a way that creates positive lasting economic, social and environmental value.


How do you define entrepreneur?

In the context of EHF, an entrepreneur is an individual who is applying the principles and tools of business in an innovative way to solve globally significant problems.


How can I apply?

Once you’ve checked out our Apply page, and downloaded and read through the application guide, you can start the application process as either an entrepreneur or an investor - links are provided on that page.

Please note that you will need to first create an account with our applicant management system before applying. It is best to use the same email address that you provided when expressing interest or downloading the Application Guide. You can save your application at any time and come back to it.


Can Kiwis apply?

Yes! Up to 20 places are available each year for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents to join EHF. Kiwis can benefit from the events, shared networks, learning opportunities, prestige, and venture promotion that comes along with being a part of an EHF cohort.


What do Kiwi entrepreneurs and investors gain from being in the programme?

There are many benefits for Kiwi entrepreneurs who join EHF:

  • Deep connection with a tight-knit community of entrepreneurs and investors who are personally invested in helping each other succeed
  • Participation in workshops, skill-sharing sessions, learning opportunities, and retreats with other Fellows, and opportunities to meet visiting international entrepreneurs
  • Expanded global perspectives and networks, including linkages into our partner networks in other countries
  • Advanced connections to new international investors and well-respected mentors
  • Venture promotion, and a chance to tell your story through our international channels, our YouTube channel, our social media and blog
  • Ongoing, personalised support from EHF’s network of staff, mentors, investors, partners, ambassadors, regional contacts, and the Hillary Institute’s high profile Laureate network
  • Association with the world’s first impact-based entrepreneur/investor visa


Can I apply if I already have a work visa/residency for New Zealand?

Yes. Once Fellows are accepted into EHF, they will be able to apply for the Global Impact Visas. Moving from a current visa category to GIVs is permissible depending upon the nature of your current immigration status in New Zealand.


Can I enter New Zealand and activate my visa at any time?

Yes, once you have been granted a visa you may enter the country at any time. Because EHF operates within a cohort model, Global Impact Visas are granted at similar times, twice annually.

Attendance at induction week events in New Zealand is compulsory, along with several other EHF events throughout the year. Once your visa has been approved by Immigration New Zealand, we request that you get your visa stamp before the induction. However, also keep in mind that your visa is valid for a period of three years from the time of activation, so it’s best not to activate your visa much earlier than induction week.

You can apply for a visitor visa before your Global Impact Visa has been issued, in order to explore the country and get a better understanding of the ecosystem. This visitor visa will not allow you to work in New Zealand.


How long can I live in NZ?

The term of the Global Impact Visa is three years. Provided that Fellows remain in the Fellowship programme, are active in the work they set to do in New Zealand, and adhere to the law in New Zealand, Fellows will be eligible to apply for New Zealand permanent resident visas six months before the end of the programme.


Will I have to live in New Zealand full time?/ How many days a year will I have to spend in NZ?

We recognise that most Edmund Hillary Fellows are likely to be global citizens, whose work may take them all over the world, and who will still add value to New Zealand in multiple ways from other global bases. Unlike other visa categories for New Zealand, the Global Impact Visa does not have a minimum day requirement for days spent in New Zealand each year.

However, Fellows are expected to participate in several cohort gatherings each year in New Zealand, to make significant contributions to the national entrepreneurial ecosystem, and to actively work on or support New Zealand-based ventures with global impact potential.


What about my family? Can they move to New Zealand too?

Yes, a corresponding three-year visa can be granted to the immediate family members (partner/spouse and dependent children) of all accepted Fellows - read more on how family is defined here. Partners are able to apply for a work visa and dependent children may apply for visitor or student visas. If your family are applying for visas, they will need to meet health and character residence requirements for dependent child and partnership. Each family member will need to submit a separate application to Immigration New Zealand and pay a fee. You can see these fees by using the fee calculator from Immigration New Zealand.

Family member visas are not counted as part of the 100 Global Impact Visas that are available each year.


What support is provided to families?

We recognise that it can be daunting and complicated to move between countries, particularly when you are bringing your entire family with you. We endeavour to make the immigration process as streamlined as possible for you and your family, and once you’ve landed, we will welcome your family into the wider EHF community along with you.

The EHF team and our partners can provide you with personalised support in deciding where to move in New Zealand, all the information and advice you need to make the move, and help you settle once you reach New Zealand. Whether it’s finding a good school for your children, finding office space to work out of, or who makes the best gluten-free pizza in town, we’ve got you covered.


Can I bring my pet(s) to New Zealand with me?

As an island nation with a strong agricultural and horticultural economy, New Zealand has strict biosecurity regulations. As such, some pets such as ferrets, rats and reptiles will not be permitted to enter New Zealand. There is a process to bring in other other pets like cats and dogs, which involves certain vaccinations and a period in quarantine. We can provide more information on this if you’d like to bring your furry companions with you.


What is involved in EHF?

Participation in EHF as an entrepreneur involves contributing to the development of a venture based in New Zealand that has the potential for transformative, scalable global impact. For investors, being a Fellow entails supporting high-impact entrepreneurs and ventures based in New Zealand, through direct investment, mentorship, and access to global networks.

In addition to working on their own initiatives, Fellows have the opportunity to regularly meet and engage with other Fellows in their cohort, collaborate on projects, share learnings, attend exclusive events, connect with the leaders of New Zealand’s startup ecosystem, access high-impact international networks and mentors, and tell their story through a unique, prestigious platform.

The EHF team provides active, ongoing support across the three-year period, to ensure that you and your family hit the ground running and are set up with the best chances of success. We will schedule regular check-ins with you to identify and help remove barriers, track progress, and lend support where needed.

Ready to Apply? Click here!


What are the expectations of Fellows?

Fellows are expected to:

  • Passionately dedicate themselves to creating or supporting innovative ventures and solutions that can create economic, social and environmental prosperity for New Zealand and the world
  • Remain active in the initiatives they start to build in New Zealand, with the ability to change plans or start again
  • Embrace and embody EHF values in all their endeavors in New Zealand and beyond
  • Serve as enthusiastic, engaged members of their cohort, attending cohort gatherings in New Zealand each year, and supporting other Fellows
  • Support the New Zealand entrepreneurial ecosystem, by participating in workshops and learning opportunities, sharing expertise, engaging in local events, employing Kiwis, and mentoring local talent
  • Occasionally travel within New Zealand to help cross-pollinate learnings between different regional ecosystems
  • Open up their networks to other cohort members and individuals within New Zealand entrepreneurial ecosystems, as appropriate and relevant
  • Be an enthusiastic and skillful Ambassador of New Zealand on the global stage, attracting additional EHF candidates and solidifying New Zealand’s reputation as an Incubation Nation
  • Continue to support EHF and its Fellows in some capacity as Alumni of the programme, beyond the three-year term
  • Show high standards of integrity and ethics, and adhering to New Zealand laws


I don't have a venture yet, but I have a great idea. Am I eligible?

EHF welcomes applications from entrepreneurs and innovators at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. If you have a great idea and a track record of executing on projects with excellence, we would love to hear from you.

Investors who apply for EHF need to show proof of past investments in entrepreneurs and startups, funds available for further investments in New Zealand, an understanding of how they intend to add value, and a demonstrable track record of providing mentorship and advice to entrepreneurs and startup teams.


If my venture fails, will I have to leave New Zealand?

No. We recognise that to create meaningful wins, you sometimes need to take big, calculated risks. We also realise that failure is common within the entrepreneur’s journey and believe that failures can present opportunities for learning. What we do expect is that Fellows will be introspective about failed ventures, openly share their learnings with others in the community, and promptly start planning next steps to build upon what they have learned.


How will you measure results?

We take a non-prescriptive approach towards results, assessing individuals against a mix of standardised and qualitative outcomes, relating to venture outcomes, investment dollars provided/raised/facilitated, people employed, connections made, support provided to the local community, positive influence on the local business operations, and numbers of additional EHF candidates attracted.

Our main goal is to help Fellows succeed and create multi-dimensional value to the New Zealand entrepreneurship ecosystem across different regions.


Who is behind this?

EHF is an initiative co-created by Kiwi Connect in partnership with the Hillary Institute of International Leadership. The Edmund Hillary Fellowship is wholly owned by the Hillary Institute, a registered charitable trust, while Kiwi Connect is the operational partner, responsible for the day-to-day delivery of the programme.

The concept arose out of discussions on how international entrepreneurs, investors and startup teams might be best supported to create value for New Zealand after entering the country on a new talent-based visa programme - the Global Impact Visa (GIVs). Immigration New Zealand is responsible for assessing and issuing GIVs.


Ready to Apply?