Māori businesses are growing in number but are underrepresented within Aotearoa’s economy and face barriers to growth, according to research commissioned by Westpac New Zealand.
Speaking at a virtual business event today (October 13), Westpac’s Acting CEO, Simon Power, said the bank’s report into the Māori economy highlights several areas where Māori are being held back from achieving their economic potential.
“Firstly, Māori are over-represented in low-skilled jobs, which contributes to an income gap of around NZ$2.6-billion between Māori and non-Māori,” Power said. “Secondly, a lack of access to funding is stifling future growth.
Lack of assets to borrow against
“And thirdly, linked to the second point, Māori home-ownership rates lag well behind non-Māori, depriving would-be entrepreneurs of an asset to borrow against to start their own business.”
Power said a key discussion point at the event was how governments and big business can work with Indigenous communities in New Zealand and across the region to ensure economic growth is shared equally and no groups are left behind.
“We’re already working to connect with more Māori and diverse businesses through our supply chain, partnering with iwi (people) on shared equity schemes to help more whanau (family) onto the housing ladder, and using our strength as a lender to support organisations and projects that are driving better social outcomes.”
In June the bank signed Australasia’s first Social Loan with Aotearoa’s largest tertiary education provider, Te Pūkenga. The NZ$125-million loan will be put towards initiatives that align with specific social outcomes, such as providing better access to job training.
Provide young people with skills
“The Māori population is young and it’s growing fast. Between 2013 and 2018, the Māori labour force grew by 40%, compared to 8% for non-Māori, and that growth is set to continue,” Power noted.
“Our rangatahi (young people) are our future. Providing them with the skills and support they need to thrive in the workforce is the first step to clearing those barriers that have traditionally held Māori back.”
Westpac NZ Head of Māori, Inclusion & Diversity, Fonteyn Moses-Te Kani, said the bank saw the urgency around helping Māori SMEs to get access to finance.
“Today’s report includes examples of Indigenous businesses who are already leading the way by staying true to their values of relationship-building, shared responsibility and respect for others and the environment. Helping more of these businesses to succeed will have positive benefits for all of Aotearoa,” she said.