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Govt forms Small Business Council to drive SME growth

14 Aug 18

The government has announced the appointment of a Small Business Council that will make it easier for small businesses to connect with government, large businesses, and research institutions.

Last week Small Business Minister Stuart Nash announced the Council and its 13 appointees, which will advise the government on opportunities for improving the SMB sector.

“Small business is the backbone of the economy, making up 97% of New Zealand businesses and employing over 600,000 Kiwis,” Nash says. 

“My priorities for the Small Business portfolio have focussed on modernising the way we do business. I want to make sure SMEs are well placed to maximise future opportunities and play their part in helping create a sustainable, productive and inclusive New Zealand economy.”

Nash says the Council has a fixed term of one year to deliver a tightly-focused mandate.

“The Council will help the government develop a strategy to drive improvement and innovation in the small business sector. It will play an important role in lifting the performance of New Zealand’s many small enterprises,” he explains.

The Small Business Council will be chaired by longtime SME champion Tenby Powell. University of Auckland academic Dr Deborah Shepherd is deputy chair.

To help meet objectives, Nash says he cast a wide net for Council members and sought out some of New Zealand’s largest enterprises for the initiative.

“Firms and organisations like Xero, The Icehouse, Fonterra, Chambers of Commerce and the Sustainable Business Network are represented. The Council includes representatives from small and large businesses, financial institutions, academia, education providers, tax experts and government agencies,” Nash says.

“Significant shifts in technology, the global trading environment, and domestic policy settings always present challenges for businesses. The time has come to establish a specialist group to consider some of these strategic issues over a longer timeframe, and pull together advice from a range of institutions and practitioners.”

The Council will also focus on current government priorities, including the digital economy, regional and infrastructure development, tax policy, trade and export growth, skills development, access to finance, and streamlining government processes.

It will also provide advice on whether there is a case for establishing a Small Business Institute within a New Zealand tertiary institution. Nash has now formally disestablished the Small Business Development Group, which has been in recess since June 2017.

“We want to see our SMEs thrive. The Small Business Council brings together some of the best talent from across the spectrum and I look forward to working together to develop a small business strategy that best reflects the needs of the sector,” Nash concludes.

The Small Business Council Members are:

  • Terry Baucher: Director of Baucher Consulting Ltd
  • Rachel Brown: CEO/founder of Sustainable Business Network
  • Anthony Buick-Constable: Deputy chief executive and general counsel of NZ Bankers Association
  • Nicole Buisson: Small Business director, Xero
  • Jim Gordon: Director of Jim Gordon Tax Ltd
  • Andy Hamilton: CEO The Icehouse Ltd, director of FaceMe Limited
  • Jerry He: Chairman of Asia Pacific MSMEs Trade Coalition
  • Allison Lawton:  Chief executive of Rotorua Chamber of Commerce
  • Tenby Powell: Director of Hunter Powell Investment Partners
  • Alison Brewer Shearer: General manager, Fonterra Shareholders' Council
  • Dr Deborah Shepherd: Senior lecturer - University of Auckland Business School, Facilitator at the Icehouse
  • Tania Siladi: Co-owner/director of Dragonfly Hospitality Group Limited, co-owner/director of Asian Food Republic
  • Leeann Watson: Chief executive of Canterbury Employer’s Chamber of Commerce