News Item

​LEAP Forum

News 25 Jan 2018

Dramatic change is needed to grow New Zealand’s small business economy and, to that end, a summit of heavy-hitters are gathering in Auckland on January 31 to push for a new approach.

Entrepreneur Tenby Powell put out a call pre-Christmas for Government to establish an Institute for Small Business and gained overwhelming support from within NZ and farther afield.

It is an idea whose time has come, Powell says.

“I am advocating for dramatic change.

“This is not a small step improvement to that which already exists, it’s an entirely different paradigm of thought in respect of our SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) economy, and I have recommended to the Minister for Small Business, Hon. Stuart Nash, to think big and not be bound by that which has gone before.”

Powell has organised the summit, called SME LEAP (Leading Enterprise Acceleration and Productivity), which will be held in Auckland January 31.

Sponsored by Westpac NZ and Staples Rodway, it coincides with the first meeting of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) on which Powell serves.

The LEAP forum will bring together delegates from Māori, Pasifika, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese and NZ European business economies, many of whom are leaders in their various communities.

“We anticipate more than 100 delegates at the LEAP Forum, with representatives from a diverse range of ethnicities that make up New Zealand’s SME economy,” he says.

SMEs (businesses with less than 20 employees) make up 97 percent of NZ’s registered businesses, employ 30 percent of the workforce and contribute some 28 percent to GDP output.

“Having convened the government-appointed Small Business Development Group (SBDG) for five years, I am very aware of the acute under-resourcing in respect of small business development,” Powell adds.

“For some years now, I have been advocating for increased government resources to strategically support small business by way of targeted research, inter-agency collaboration, business education and regionally-focused economic growth initiatives.”

Keynote speakers at the LEAP forum include ABAC Chairman David Toua, who is based in PNG, and high-profile Chinese businesswoman Diane Wang, the founder and CEO of Beijing-based business-to-business e-commerce website, DH Gate.

“I am grateful to my generous APEC colleagues for agreeing to speak at the LEAP forum and appreciate them arriving in New Zealand a day ahead of the ABAC meeting to do so,” Powell says.

Wang who, together with Powell, co-chairs the SME Working Group for the APEC Business Advisory Council, will talk about the importance of women in business and embracing the digital economy.

“One key focus at the LEAP Forum will be women-in-business based on the APEC workstream which includes a high optic on women SME owners and the challenges they face with access to financing and logistic networks,” Powell says.

“Business bankers from our major banks have agreed to join our discussion and we welcome their input into how we break the cycle of funding businesses mostly through home mortgages.

“When entrepreneurs gather, things happen - optimism and the entrepreneurial spirit go hand-in-hand.

“A late Christmas gift for our small business owners may yet come in the form of greater resources and strategic support by government to this critically important ecosystem,” he says.