ABOVE: Labour list MP Angie Warren-Clark, Small Business Tauranga deputy chair Zita Cameron, Minister of Small Business Stuart Nash, and Small Business Tauranga chair Steven Farrant. Photo/David Porter.
Small Businesses in New Zealand are young, dynamic and dominate New Zealand’s industries, but they face unique challenges, says Steven Farrant, chair of Tauranga Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Tauranga group.
The group recently hosted Small Business Minister Stuart Nash to a roundtable discussion which included a wide range of local business people.
The purpose of the summit was to welcome Nash to Tauranga and allow him to see first hand the only Chamber of Commerce network within New Zealand that was dedicated to Small Businesses, said Farrant.
“We also wanted to discuss with Stuart and other business leaders from within the region how do we collectively make it easier for SMEs to operate, do business and be more effective and successful.”
The SME sector is a characteristic of the New Zealand economy, with 97 percent of enterprises having fewer than 20 employees. Around 29 percent of employees work for SMEs and 28 percent of New Zealand’s GDP is estimated to be produced by SMEs.
“Small Business in Tauranga and New Zealand as a whole is a big deal,” said Farrant.
“This is ultimately why our network exists and is so relevant within our business community.”
Participants in the summit stressed that the Minister, and the recently formed Small Business Council, needed to focus on strengthening the sector at higher levels of government. Nash indicated that he would welcome further input by those attending.
Farrant noted that Small Business Tauranga was run by a committee of passionate volunteers and small business enthusiasts, which suggested not enough is being done to address the sector’s needs at a higher level.
“But I was encouraged by the minister’s empathy to this and commitment to the sector – plus his determination, via the Small Business Council, to make some significant, meaningful and practical changes to help SMEs within NZ,” he said.
“I am hopeful we can work closely with the minister and the Small Business Council and use Tauranga as a sample base to trial new initiatives to help make a material difference.”