Young, female and Māori: The new business leaders taking over

Business leaders who are young, female or Māori are among the most confident and positive in the country, a survey found.

Management consultant Kateriina Selwyn from Chartered Accountants and Management Consultants says young people and women are increasingly interested in business. Photo: Supplied

The Grow NZ report by Westpac NZ measured the mood and intent of more than 1200 business leaders across the country.

Fourty percent of women reported business growth in recent years, compared with 32 percent of men.

Management consultant Kateriina Selwyn from Chartered Accountants and Management Consultants, worked predominantly with Māori businesses and trusts.

She said young people and women were increasingly interested in business.

“There are a lot more opportunities in education that expose young people to different and more innovative ideas and ways to do business.

“There‘s also a growing focus on creating not only cultural diversity but also gender diversity in the work place so a lot of businesses these days have serious strategies in place to help grow the female representation in business.”

She said many Māori in business were driven by uplifting their people and their whānau.

“For a lot of Māori iwi that have settled they have this idea in their mind that they want to create a sustainable future for the next generation so I think it almost encourages young Māori to ensure that that happens”

Westpac chief executive David Mclean also said optimism within the Māori business sector was a sign of a maturing iwi economy.

“We‘ve seen the era of the big settlements coming to a close, obviously there‘s a few big ones that need to be resolved, but many of the iwi in the country have got on with it at an iwi level and they‘re now running very big businesses on their own,” he said.

“On a smaller level below that, there‘s a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial people of Māori origin who are starting businesses.”

There have been more than 200 new Māori businesses since 2013 and last year there were more than 1100 Māori enterprises.

Post-settlement assets were also worth about $6 billion.

Mr Mclean said Māori have realised the commercial potential of their settlements to benefit their people.

“Clearly there‘s a lot of historical grievances and everything that they were designed to remedy but when they put that into their commercial arms, they‘ve operated very very commercially and they‘ve tapped into huge regional potential, they‘ve tapped into their talent pools, and they‘ve uncovered opportunities that other people weren‘t spotting.

While the greater business cycle was reaching its full potential and unlikely to up much, Māori businesses had more capacity to grow, he said.

Mr Mclean said one reason for that was because there were still Māori settlements to be finalised, and a number of big investments from iwi were still underway.

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