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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Got questions about the Edmund Hillary Fellowship? Most common queries are addressed in our Frequently Asked Questions below. Please read through to learn more about the programme and the Global Impact Visa.

What is the Edmund Hillary Fellowship?

Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF) is a global community of high-impact entrepreneurs, investors and changemakers, collaboratively building new paradigm solutions to global challenges from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Fellows are accepted into the programme through a competitive 2-stage application process, gaining access to a global network of diverse expert perspectives, exceptional talent and investors, mentorship opportunities, cross-sector collaboration opportunities, co-created events and retreats, and a peer-support network of action-oriented people influencing the course of humanity. The programme is open to both Kiwi and international candidates, with international Fellows receiving exclusive access to New Zealand’s new Global Impact Visa (GIVs), a three-year open work visa with a path to permanent residency.

Who is this for?

We seek bold entrepreneurs and visionary investors to join a community of passionate changemakers creating high-impact solutions to global challenges from Aotearoa New Zealand. EHF is for those who are creating systemic positive change in their fields, who can enhance their impact by learning, collaborating, and growing within a network of determined changemakers. This programme is for individuals and team 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.

What is the Global Impact Visa (GIVs)?

The Global Impact Visa (GIVs) is a three-year flexible, open work visa for New Zealand, offering a pathway to permanent residency. The visa is for entrepreneurs, investors and changemakers who are creating new paradigm solutions to global challenges, and who can create social, environmental, cultural and economic value for both New Zealand and the world.

Working in partnership with Immigration New Zealand, acceptance into EHF is the only way to become eligible for a Global Impact Visa. International candidates who are accepted into EHF may apply for this visa. Fellows become eligible for permanent residency after three years, provided they are still active in the EHF community, have contributed towards innovation in New Zealand, have committed no serious offence. Read more about GIVs on Immigration New Zealand’s website here.

How many places are available?

There are up to 60 places available in each cohort of EHF, with 2 cohorts accepted per year. A maximum of 50 places are available per cohort for international entrepreneurs, investors and changemakers, who can live and work in New Zealand under a Global Impact Visa. Up to 10 places are also reserved in each cohort for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. Due to varying number and quality of applications, consideration of cohort composition, and other constraining factors, we may sometimes accept less than 60 Fellows into a cohort.

How can I apply?

Application to EHF is a two-step process. The first step is to submit a Stage 1 Application, a short form which should take 15-30 minutes to complete. A fee of NZD $150 is payable upon application.  

Once our team has reviewed Stage 1 Applications, we will inform candidates of the outcome of their application. If successful in their Stage 1 Application, candidates will be invited at this time to submit a Stage 2 Application for a specific cohort. Two cohorts are selected each year. Fees vary for each stage of this process depending on whether you are an entrepreneur, investor, or New Zealander. We also have limited number of scholarships for Stage 2 Application fees. 

Please read our Apply page for more details on the process and fees, and to start the application process. 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. You can save your application at any time and come back to it.

Is there an application fee?

EHF uses a staged system to charge application fees, to ensure that our pricing model correlates to the amount of time spent on each applicant. Avoid paying additional late application fees by applying before our deadlines. We are committed to ensuring that finances are not a barrier for top entrepreneurs with limited means, and as such we have limited scholarships available to subsidise EHF application fees. Scholarships for the Stage 2 Application fee are available for entrepreneurs, and can be requested within the Stage 1 Application form.

Stage 1 Application fee: NZD $150

This first-step standard fee covers the cost of initially assessing your application.

Stage 2 Application fee: NZD $200 - 6,000

If you are invited to submit a Stage 2 Application to EHF, additional application fees ranging between NZD $200 - 6,000 are payable, depending upon your situation. A portion of these fees is payable upon application, with the remainder due if/when you are accepted into the EHF programme. Please review the fee schedule below for details on which fees apply to you.

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

* We are able to accept late applications for a limited time after closing dates. Please note that late applications will incur an additional late application processing fee of NZD $100 for Stage 1 Applications, and NZD $250 for Stage 2 Applications.

** Please note there is a separate additional application fee for the Global Impact Visa, payable to Immigration New Zealand.

What is the deadline for applying to EHF?

Applications to EHF are open on a rolling basis. Stage 1 Applications to EHF close every 6 months, after which some applicants are invited to submit a Stage 2 Application. If you miss an application deadline, we can still accept late applications for a limited time, although an additional late application fee will apply.

Please check our Apply page for the latest deadlines.

How does the selection process work?

Selection of Fellows occurs twice-yearly through a competitive merit-based 2-step application process. Read more about this process on our Apply page.

Assessment of both Stage 1 and Stage 2 Applications is conducted by the EHF team, with the help of Fellows, subject matter experts, and an independent panel of international and Kiwi entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, and thought leaders who are well placed to recognise the traits and characteristics of successful entrepreneurs. We assess Stage 2 Application candidates through a combination of self-reported data, video interviews, reference letters, third-party verifications, background checks, and supporting information.

Once accepted into the programme, international candidates are invited 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 or earning potential to support themselves for the first year in New Zealand. Once candidates obtain their visa, they will be offered spots in the next cohort to begin the three-year EHF programme. If candidates fail to qualify for and/or obtain a Global Impact Visa, they will not be offered a place in EHF.

What are the selection criteria for EHF?

EHF recognises that your potential for global impact and holistic value creation cannot always be measured by purely standardised metrics. Our selection process measures candidates against a set of qualitative and quantitative criteria that assess entrepreneurial or investment skills, experiences, capabilities, and potential to have a positive impact on New Zealand and the world.

Our selection criteria focus on identifying individuals and teams who:

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

Cohort diversity and benefits to New Zealand’s regions are also taken into consideration during the selection process.

What are the requirements for the Global Impact Visa?

To be eligible for GIVs, you must meet the following minimum requirements, as set by Immigration New Zealand:

  • Acceptance into the Edmund Hillary Fellowship
  • A high level of English language proficiency
  • Good character*
  • Good health
  • Sufficient maintenance funds of NZD $36,000, OR the ability to earn income to support yourself and any dependents in New Zealand during the first year.

Read more about Immigration New Zealand’s requirements here. Please note that GIVs application fees are separate from EHF fees, and vary depending on your country of citizenship. Find out about GIVs fees here.

* 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 are invited to submit a Stage 2 Application after your successful Stage 1 Application, it may be a good idea to apply for your police certificate at the same time. Details on each country’s specific requirements are here.

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. International candidates are also permitted to take paid employment in New Zealand under the Global Impact Visa to supplement their income, although your primary focus should be on building your venture.

Immigration New Zealand requires that Fellows have access to, or earning potential of, NZD $36,000 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.

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 for the world.

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. Entrepreneurs eligible for EHF may be operating within a number of different business models, including for-profit, not-for-profit, benefit corporation, sole trader, foundation or other structure. Check out the profiles of our current Fellows on our blog.

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.

Are not-for-profit ventures eligible?

Yes. We welcome applications from ventures with a range of different business models. What is right for one business may not be the best approach for another. However, if you are applying as a not-for-profit organisation, we require that you to demonstrate how you are planning to scale your venture in the future to create global impact.

Can Kiwis apply for EHF?

Yes! Up to 10 places are available in each cohort for New Zealand Citizens and Permanent Residents to join EHF. Kiwis can benefit from being part of the EHF community and gainining access to events, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, venture support, and a global network of mentors, supporters, investors and ambassadors to help you succeed. 

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

There are many benefits for Kiwi entrepreneurs who join EHF:

  • Access to a global network of diverse expert perspectives, exceptional talent and investors, mentorship opportunities, cross-sector collaboration opportunities, and a peer-support network of action-oriented people influencing the course of humanity.
  • Deep connection with a tight-knit cohort of entrepreneurs, investors and changemakers 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
  • Advanced connections to international investors and well-respected mentors
  • Support in telling your story through our international channels, our YouTube channel, our social media, our blog, and our media partners
  • Ongoing, personalised support from EHF’s network of staff, mentors, investors, partners, ambassadors, regional contacts, and the Hillary Institute’s high profile Laureate network
  • Lifelong alumni community, and association with the world’s first impact-based entrepreneur/investor visa

What do international entrepreneurs and investors gain from joining EHF?

Participation in EHF offers many benefits to international Fellows:

  • Exclusive access to New Zealand’s Global Impact Visa, a 3-year, flexible, open work visa with a path to permanent residency.
  • Deep connection with a tight-knit cohort of entrepreneurs, investors and changemakers who are personally invested in helping each other succeed
  • Advanced connections to New Zealand’s startup and business leaders, government leaders, mentors, investors, research and development institutes and Māori communities.
  • Access to a global network of diverse expert perspectives, exceptional talent and investors, mentorship opportunities, cross-sector collaboration opportunities, and a peer-support network of action-oriented people influencing the course of humanity.
  • Ongoing, personalised support from EHF’s network of staff, mentors, investors, partners, ambassadors, regional contacts, and the Hillary Institute’s high profile Laureate network, to help you hit the ground running and settle into New Zealand.
  • Participation in workshops, skill-sharing sessions, learning opportunities, and retreats with other Fellows, and opportunities to meet visiting international entrepreneurs
  • Support in telling your story to the world through our international channels, our YouTube channel, our social media, our blog, and our media partners
  • Lifelong alumni community, and association with the world’s first impact-based entrepreneur/investor visa

What is involved in EHF?

Participation in EHF involves leading or contributing towards the development of solutions to global problems from Aotearoa New Zealand, while actively engaging with members of the EHF community, the New Zealand innovation ecosystem, and our wider global networks.

For entrepreneurs, this means working towards models of business that disrupt the status quo, embrace new paradigm thinking, engage in cross-sector collaboration, striving towards transformative, scalable global impact. For investors, being a Fellow entails supporting high-impact entrepreneurs and ventures based in New Zealand - whether those inside EHF or in the wider community - through direct investment, mentorship, and access to global networks.

Although we are not prescriptive about exactly how Fellows should engage with the New Zealand startup ecosystem, we expect that Fellows will actively offer their advice, expertise, and global networks, sharing learnings and connecting with leaders, to help raise the tide for impact entrepreneurship in New Zealand. Depending on their unique situation, Fellows can choose to engage in different ways.

What can I expect by way of support from EHF?

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.

While EHF is a programme that places Fellows in the driver’s seat with regards to developing their ventures and ideas in New Zealand, our team will always be available to you to provide advice, connect you with people who can help, and support you in individualised ways. We will schedule regular check-ins with you to identify and help remove barriers, track progress, and lend support where needed.

What are the expectations of Fellows?

Fellows are expected to:

  • Passionately dedicate themselves to building and supportive innovative ventures and solutions that can create economic, social and environmental value for New Zealand and the world
  • 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, and supporting other Fellows and the wider EHF community.
  • 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
  • Remain active in the initiatives they start to build in New Zealand, with the ability to change plans or start again
  • 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 Fellows and their work
  • Show high standards of integrity and ethics, and adhering to New Zealand laws

Can I apply as part of a team?

You sure can! If you’re applying as a team, make sure that the principal applicant fills out the form, and please list the names of other co-founders in your application. Only founders and co-founders will be eligible for EHF and the Global Impact Visa. If there are other team members in your team who are/will be employed by your company, there is the option of applying for alternative NZ work visas, or continuing to work remotely. Please note that team applications incur a higher application fee.

We are able to receive only one application per team for the Fellowship. However, if there are others on your team who wish to be considered independently as an entrepreneur or investor in their own right, they have the option to apply individually.

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 a Global Impact Visa. Moving from a current visa category to GIVs is permissible depending upon the nature of your current immigration status in New Zealand. Alternatively, you may be able to remain on whatever current visa you are on in New Zealand - each case will be unique.

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.

As attendance at your cohort induction week event in New Zealand is compulsory, we request that you get your visa stamped before the induction.

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 their visa.

Will I have to live in New Zealand full time?

Our aim is for each Fellow to build a strong base in New Zealand so you can meaningfully engage with the local ecosystem, benefit from it and contribute to the innovation that is happening here. We take a long-term approach when considering this. When evaluating candidates for EHF and the time they are able to spend in New Zealand, we consider the work they wish to embark in New Zealand, and the time on the ground they may need to do justice to their vision.  

We recognise that most EHF Fellows are likely to be global citizens whose work may take them all over the world, and who can add value to New Zealand in multiple ways from other global bases. We also understand that building a long-term base in a new country can take time depending on each individual’s circumstances, especially as entrepreneurs and investors. 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 two major summits that EHF organises in New Zealand every year, to allow you to be active in the EHF community and deepen your connections with the New Zealand ecosystem.

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 as well.

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.

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 not yet started a venture, but have a great idea and a track record of executing on other 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?

Our goal is to help Fellows succeed and create multidimensional value to the New Zealand entrepreneurship ecosystem across different regions.

We take a non-prescriptive approach towards measuring results, assessing individuals against a mix of standardised and qualitative outcomes. These may relate 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, new paradigms created and/or adopted, and numbers of additional EHF candidates attracted.

Who is behind this?

Co-created by Kiwi Connect in partnership with the Hillary Institute of International Leadership, EHF is wholly owned by the Hillary Institute, a registered charitable trust.

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.

After the creation of the programme, the Kiwi Connect team moved over to focus on EHF full-time.Read more about that transition here.