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1,000 Businesspeople Helped 2,860 Small Businesses


Media Statement

Tuesday 9 May 2000 For Immediate Release

1,000 Businesspeople Helped 2,860 Small Businesses Last Year

“It takes a special kind of person to take time off work to go down the road and help a small business that needs some guidance to survive and grow. Thankfully there are more than 1,000 such businesspeople in New Zealand and they gave their free time to mentor 2,860 small businesses last year.”

Sarah Trotman, CEO of the not-for-profit Business in the Community, was announcing the results of the company’s Business Mentoring Programme for the year to the end of March 2000.

“Our free mentoring programme has grown enormously since it was established seven years ago because our patrons, agents and mentors are all passionate about helping small businesses stay in business and grow.

“It is well recognised that everyone benefits if small businesses do well.

“Our thousand-plus mentors are all experienced businesspeople who want to give something back to the community – and the most valuable thing they have to offer is their business experience.

“Various figures are quoted about the importance of small business to the New Zealand way of life, and various figures are quoted about how often they fail.

“The Ministry of Commerce reported last year that 85 percent of our businesses employ fewer than six people, and nearly a quarter of us work in such businesses.

“The same report suggested that at least a third of small businesses fail within three years.

“Each time that happens, it costs the family and community at least $100,000.

“Small businesses don’t need to fail – often they fail simply because of a lack of experience and support, leading to poor decisions.

“Our free mentoring programme is about experienced, successful businesspeople coaching small businesses throughout New Zealand, and helping identify what they need to do to stay in business and grow.

“In addition to the tens of thousands of hours our mentors give free, over 160 patron businesses throughout New Zealand support us with donations valued last year at close to $1 million in cash and in kind.

Ms Trotman said the company wanted to expand its programme to assist 10,000 businesses a year within three years. This would significantly contribute to the Government’s goals of economic and regional development.

“As a well-established, private sector programme we believe we are fully in line with Government’s plans to partner the private sector in economic and regional development,” she said.

“Right now, plans are underway to expand our coverage from 21 regions to 23, encourage more mentors to become involved throughout the country and capture the economies of scale associated with increasing the number of businesses we help.

“As always, the vast majority of the costs associated with the programme will continue to be met by the private sector, but the full realisation of our target of 10,000 businesses would require financial assistance from the Government.

“We will be talking to the Government about our plans in the next few weeks.”

The Business in the Community Ltd Board consists of Lindsay Fergusson (Chairman); Richard Austin; Professor David Buisson; Richard Blundell; Jacinta Calverley; Sir James Fletcher; Warren Gibb; Tom McClunie; Steve Marshall and Alison Quesnel.

Its patrons read as a New Zealand business “who’s who”.

Sir James Fletcher, a trustee and director of Business in the Community Ltd, will be interviewed on Radio New Zealand’s Kim Hill Show at 10:45 am this morning.

END

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