Maori back in business

Last updated 10:19 04/10/2010

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Column: Business view

Future in good hands Maori back in business Monthly checks key to health Talking about young people's working lives Time to start planning for changes Firms need to update GST systems Businesses should prepare now for probable GST rise Business owners struggling to find cash Economy could be winner in rebalanced taxation system Rules may modify, but good game remains the same

Today's Business View columnist is Gaylene Findlay, an associate with BDO Taranaki, and a member of the BDO national Maori business special interest group.

Maori entrepreneurship in Taranaki is alive and kicking - and as emerging debate would have it, Maori talent for economic enterprise predates the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi.

Few of us realise just how much economic clout Maori once held. Indeed, several references indicate that Maori entrepreneurs were at the top of the food chain. An article by Paul Temm QC describes a tribe in the early 1800s that owned several ships and was exporting tonnes of flax, potatoes and pigs directly to Australia.

This tribe at least was an equal player and could possibly have been a dominant player in the economic landscape of the time.

It is a level of influence Maori are seeking to regain; certainly so, based on my observations over the last couple of months attending the (increasingly crowded) functions of Taranaki's recently established Maori business network, He Toronga Pakihi ki Taranaki.

These goals are also supported by the Maori Business Facilitation Service, a free service specifically to support new and existing Maori businesses through advice and guidance.

Maori Business Facilitation Service participants are a new breed, working to restore the former economic force of Maori as the business owners and creators of economic wealth they once were.

I have seen this entrepreneurial talent first hand, working with BDO Taranaki as a mentor for MBFS.

While it does not provide direct funding, it does help with coaching, problem solving, networking, identifying funding sources and accessing resources and referrals to other business services.

I have been involved in many rewarding mentoring roles so far, with a mixture of start-up and existing businesses each requiring similar interventions such as business and marketing plans, but also with their own distinct issues.

There are some inspiring success stories.

In one case, a business making good cash surpluses and generally meeting its financial commitments on time was getting caught unawares by an occasional GST payment or unexpected bill.

With guidance on managing cash flow and finances we've been able to help it project costs into the future and better plan growth.

In several cases, we have been able to set up businesses with online based financial information system Xero, which enables us to provide real-time advice over the phone and on screen via the internet as they work.

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It has removed the stress and reduced the time involved in reconciling bank statements, bi- monthly GST returns and managing their cash flow. They can now review costs, look at forecasting budgets and better manage their business.

In another case the business went on to present a tender to central Government, receiving indications it will be successful.

Others have been able to access funding for further development.

These clients are evidence that Maori entrepreneurship is alive and kicking. The only ingredient lacking is often confidence and guidance, which all now have access to through both MBFS and the new local network.

We look forward to the next 12 months, wondering what types of businesses and their particular issues will be headed our way.

Businesses interested in accessing MBFS support should fill out a client inquiry form, available at tpk.govt.nz/en/ services/business, and submit it to their nearest Te Puni Kokiri regional account manager.

There are 10 regional account managers and offices throughout the country. From there an account manager will assess the viability of your application and determine whether your business requires mentoring.

- Taranaki Daily News

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