Let's get Maori and Pasifika women into business

Last updated 15:41 08/03/2016

Liz Ah-Hi is the creative founder/director of BeWitched. She believes women need to be encouraged to start businesses.

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Today is International Women's Day, the perfect time to talk about encouraging women to start their own businesses.

I own my own beauty salon. I'm of Samoan descent and have been in the industry for six years.

Having bought into a franchise when I first entered the industry, I've become a trained and certified leading business operator of an evolving business.

I didn’t expect my business to be as successful as it is today, it comes after sheer hard work and determination, but the work doesn’t stop there as there is room for change and improvements. 

I also want to play a part in encouraging women into business, because I believe it is important.

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I basically started my business with very little assistance. But we women have a natural persistence to achieve a lot, when given very little.

I believe we can do more to support our women, especially Maori and Pasifika, in building successful enterprises and businesses.

It is important we encourage more Pacific women into business and also positions of leadership - whether that be as an employer or CEO. 

When our young Pasifika see women from their culture and community starting their own business, the possibilities for their own accomplishments become more real and tangible.

Pacific business ownership is at 1.6 per cent, the percentage drops dramatically when we look at Pacific women who own businesses.

I would like to see this trend reversed.

Not having startup capital can be a barrier for not just Maori and Pasifika or women, but for anyone starting up their own business.

The Wellington Pasifika Business Network, which I am a part of, run regular workshops, which I find refreshing and encouraging on managing your finances and taxation, legalities, the procurement process and contracts. 

These are all factors which are important building blocks for business owners, and ones which many often forget about. 

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I believe it is important for our Pacific people to realise that their ideas can turn into business. That's where it all started for me.

Liz Ah-Hi is the creative founder/director of BeWitched. Applications for the Pasifika Woman Business Owner of the Year award are now open. 

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