The wider Waikato region is experiencing growth in Maori business enterprise, according to local experts.
“The Maori economy is growing, and it’s growing fast,” says Kahurangi Taylor, a Waikato Innovation Park business growth advisor.
She regularly meets with local entrepreneurs and says the number of Maori businesses seeking support has grown across the Waikato and Coromandel regions.
“In the past up to five per cent of businesses we were supporting were Maori, but over the past year it has increased to 16 per cent.”
Waikato-Tainui is backing the claims.
“The Maori economy is definitely growing. All the research will tell you that,” says Karleen Turner Puriri, whanake manager – economic development at Waikato-Tainui.
“Maori businesses make a considerable contribution to the region, however there is so much untapped potential at the moment.”
A key priority for the Ministry of Business (MBIE) is growing the Maori economy.
MBIE’s Business Growth Agenda 2017 Refresh report predicts that by 2040 Maori will form a significant portion of the working-age population.
Supporting Maori business growth will benefit the New Zealand economy, regional economies, as well as whnau, hap and iwi and supporting Maori into entrepreneurship and encouraging Maori small-to-medium enterprise (SME) growth is part of that, and there are signs this is growing.
The number of Maori self-employed and employers increased from 20,000 in 2012 to 29,000 in December 2016, according to MBIE.
Engaging Maori through regional growth programmes is vital to growing the Maori economy, which is where an organisation like the one at Waikato Innovation Park comes in.
The group is funded by the Regional Business Partner Network (RBPN) which is supported by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) and Callaghan Innovation.
Their focus is on supporting businesses with high-growth aspirations that are export focused, technology-driven or have innovative products or services with real commercial merit. Some may be in the early stages of starting a business, while others have new products or services they hope to commercialise.
Kahurangi is one of six business advisors in the Waikato Innovation Park team providing free advice and support to businesses across the region.
She has been involved in three start-up organisations and can offer real-world advice and experience to others starting out in business.
“I can add value in the early stages, because I’ve been there,” says Kahurangi.
“There are a lot of things to think about when starting a business, from thinking about GST to writing a business plan.”
Although based at Waikato Innovation Park in Hamilton, team members regularly travel to regional Waikato and Coromandel towns for monthly meetings.
An initial meeting is followed by an action plan, and in some cases a referral to a business mentor or other experts and networks.
With strong connections to Callaghan Innovation, business advisors can help navigate government funding to apply for project grants for research and development.
Businesses can also access co-funding through the Capability Development voucher scheme which enable people to upskill in areas such as strategic planning, marketing, capital raising, business systems, finance, sustainability, managing resources, governance and exporting – with access to a large number of local coaches and trainers.
And there is a new Maori business accelerator programme called Kkiri, run by Te Wnanga o Aotearoa and Callaghan Innovation.
The Park and Waikato Tainui co-host a quarterly Maori Business Panel for Maori business owners and entrepreneurs.
For more information or to meet with a business advisor from the Waikato Innovation Growth team contact 07 857 0538 or firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information see www.wipltd.co.nz/what-we-do/grow-your-business