Maori businesses more optimistic, profitable

Maori businesses are more optimistic and recording stronger profit growth than non-Maori firms as the focus of the sector shifts from righting historical grievances to looking to the future, ANZ Bank’s 2015 Maori business report says.

The ANZ Privately-Owned Business Barometer found 72 percent of Maori businesses surveyed were upbeat about the next three years, up from a reading of 70 percent last year, and ahead of 51 percent for non-Maori business. Over the past 12 months, 54 percent of Maori businesses in the survey recorded an increase in profit. That compares to 46 percent for non-Maori firms.

Businesses were starting to leverage their Maori heritage, with 51 percent of Maori business respondents seeing it as an advantage, whether it was a unique selling point or a culture focusing on long-term sustainability rather than short-term gains, the report said.

“This year’s barometer highlights the changing perspectives among respondents, from a focus on survival to a focus on future prosperity,” the report said. “It’s a more forward-looking focus that reflects in part a wider shift in both Maori and non-Maori from an adversarial process of righting historical grievances, to figuring out how we can all work together to realise the opportunities in front of us.”

Respondents also noted greater willingness in the wider community, including financial institutions and the corporate sector as well as government to engage with Maori businesses.

A Te Puni Kokiri report estimates the Maori economy was worth $42.6 billion in 2013. About $23.4 billion of that was made up by Maori employers, while Maori trusts, incorporations and other entities contributed $12.5 billion.

Of the 3,500 businesses surveyed for the ANZ barometer series, 336 respondents self-identified as Maori in business and represented organisations with a combined annual turnover of more than $1 billion. Of those Maori businesses, 42 percent were companies, partnerships and joint ventures with Maori shareholders, 29 percent were Maori in business, 20 percent were Maori trusts and incorporations and the remaining 9 percent were iwi or hapu entities.

While Maori businesses were more optimistic in their outlook, 35 percent said a lack of skilled staff was having an impact on their business, compared to 25 percent of non-Maori respondents. Of the Maori business respondents, 40 percent said they were actively recruiting Maori staff, with 23 percent saying it was very hard to find Maori staff, while 22 percent said it was very easy.

Maori are traditionally over-represented in New Zealand’s unemployment statistics, with about 12.6 percent of the 309,800 Maori workforce unemployed as at March 31, compared to the 5.6 percent jobless rate across all ethnicities nationwide.

The ANZ report showed the main industries for the Maori respondents were agriculture, forestry and fishing at nearly a third, with the remainder evenly split between education and training, professional scientific and technical services, construction, hospitality and tourism, arts and recreation services, administrative and support services, personal services, healthcare, and media and technology.

The report is a collaboration between ANZ, Poutama Trust, Te Tumu Paeroa, NZ Maori Tourism and the Federation of Maori Authorities.

(BusinessDesk)

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