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Loose KEA expat network worth keeping: LECG

Loose KEA expat network worth keeping: LECG

by Pattrick Smellie

Dec. 29 (BusinessWire) - Annual taxpayer investment of $630,000 in KEA, a loose network of high net worth Kiwi expatriates, is worth the effort, but not much more should be sought from it, says a report for the Ministry of Economic Development by the Wellington-based global consulting firm, LECG.

Spawned by private backers after the 2003 Knowledge Wave conference, the Kiwi Expatriates Abroad network now attracts MED support to hire regional managers and create an onlinemembership hub.

LECG says KEA "in many areas is approaching critical mass sectorally and geographically"..."to provide benefit to New Zealand in a range of economic, social, and cultural areas".

However, privately funded efforts to establish an employment database and mentoring service have failed, and LECG recommends against publicly funding activities that KEA either had not shown aptitude for or could duplicate existing efforts.

The appointment of regional managers to coordinate member activities and prevent KEA becoming an informal drain on New Zealand's embassies and offshore trade offices is identified as a crucial factor in reaching and sustaining critical mass.

"An individual within a volunteer-led Chapter ... can greatly affect its ability to undertake activity, so a point of critical mass is not always sustainable."

Of its 25,000 contactable members, just over half are in the UK and Australia.

There was little indication that enough members would pay to belong to KEA, LECG found, and its difficulty in offering value-added membership services meant it was important not to strain KEA beyond its clear ability to facilitate investment and commercial opportunities of benefit to New Zealand.

"We considere that there is a real risk (legally and reputationally) in Kea independently entering into anything but a light-touch approach to service deliverty without a great deal of thought and careful planning."

(BusinessWire) 17:02:14

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