Be. Leadership alumnus Arash Tayebi awarded $30,000 Possibility Fund grant

Arash Tayebi has become the first person to receive a grant from the newly launched Possibility Fund, set up by Be. Lab founder Minnie Baragwanath in partnership with Perpetual Guardian to support access innovation and entrepreneurship in New Zealand.

Arash Tayebi standing with his arm around Sign language avatar called Niki who is signing 'hello'

Possibility is all about reimagining the status quo in order to create a truly accessible future for all, including the 1 in 4 New Zealanders who live with an access need. It is this sense of imagination, innovation, and courage that the Possibility Fund has been created to incubate and support.

We are incredibly proud to share that an inaugural grant of $30,000 from the Possibility Fund has been gifted to Be. Leadership alumnus, Arash Tayebi. Arash was part of the 2019 Be. Leader cohort and is the CEO and Founder of Kara Technologies, an innovative start-up that has created a hyper-realistic avatar backed-up with motion capture technology.

It is their vision that this technology will provide better accessibility for the Deaf community.

Read more about Arash’s story and this exciting new technology in this article on Stuff.

Not only is Arash a Be. Leader but his start-up, Kara Technologies, is also a Be. Lab business which worked with our Talent & Employment team to recruit a sign language expert and communication manager with access needs into their team in 2019. Zachary Best was matched with Kara through Be. Lab’s Talent Programme – an innovative permanent employment programme that connects talented access citizens with meaningful roles in leading New Zealand businesses. Candidates are supported with skills development and mentoring from experienced professionals while the business is also offered guidance and support to create an accessible and inclusive place of work.

Reflecting on his experiences aspart of the Be. Lab community, Arash says “being part of the Be. Lab community was an eye-opening journey to me. Not only I am constantly being inspired by visionary people, but also Be. Lab helped me to learn how to work collectively from an accessibility perspective towards realising new possibilities.”

Arash is just one example of what can be achieved when access citizens are given the opportunities and support to flourish.

Investing in this community means investing in a more inclusive, innovative future for all New Zealanders.

More about the Possibility Fund

  • The Possibility Fund is managed by the Perpetual Guardian Foundation as professional trustee. Perpetual Guardian is the largest non-Government philanthropic entity by volume.
  • The Fund was created in 2020 with seed funding from two philanthropists: $150,000 from Minnie Baragwanath of the Minnie Baragwanath Foundation and $180,000 from Alice and Stan Flavell, who left their legacy in their Wills. The Flavells were passionate about creating equal access opportunities for blind and low vision New Zealanders, particularly children.
  • Minnie Baragwanath’s original Foundation was seed funded by the Hugh Wynne Charitable Trust; Hugh was an elderly gentleman who lost his sight later in life. The Trust’s other trustees appointed Minnie as a trustee with the goal of using his legacy fund to support access citizens in leadership.

Access innovation is behind many of the inventions we rely on today:

  • The telephone – developed by Alexander Graham Bell – was designed to condense and amplify sound over distance in order to assist the hearing impaired. This has, in turn, led to the microphone, speaker, speech recognition, speech synthesis, stereophonic recording, and the transistor.
  • Vinton Cerf, creator of the ARPANET – the precursor to the internet – developed text messaging and email to communicate with his wife, who was deaf.
  • Our contemporary keyboard came from Pellegrino Turri’s invention of the typewriter in the early 19th century – a device he created to help his friend, who was blind, write legibly.


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