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Business Mentoring Making a Difference in the Cook Islands

Media Release

Date: Tuesday, 23rd November

Business Mentoring Making a Difference in the Cook Islands

The first New Zealand volunteers to take part in the Pacific Islands Business Mentoring Programme have returned from the second of six trips to the Cook Islands. Five mentors from Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) travelled to Rarotonga in May and recently went back to assess the progress of their clients and to meet with new ones.

The Cook Islands were the first of 11 Pacific island countries to be included in the BMNZ managed project over the next three years with funding provided by New Zealand’s Aid Programme.

Mike Ogle, a New Zealand mentor participating in the programme, says that many of his Cook Island clients have reported positive changes since their initial meeting.

‘I’ve noticed that they are a lot more focused and most of them are now moving in a very clear, new direction,’ explains Mike. ‘Of course, progress varies according to the company and the individual but some of the results are just incredible. One business owner has seen a 150% increase in sales over a six month period, another saw a 60% rise in turnover and a 30% lift in his profits.

‘Much of that is purely down to having someone to talk to and mull things over with. It’s also about us sharing knowledge and skills that they may be missing. It’s quite common for small business owners in the Cook Islands to be fantastic at whatever it is they do, whatever it is that their company is based around, but not so adept at accounting, marketing and developing the company. Once they have mastered those additional tools, it enables them to really move forwards.’

Another New Zealand Business Mentor, Terry Gillespie notes that while feedback so far has been encouraging, there is still a long way to go.

‘This is only the first year of the programme, and only the second meeting with the clients we started out with,’ says Terry. ‘I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of an impact this initiative will have on the Cook Islands in the longer term. I think it will do an awful lot of good, both for the economy, local communities and families, and the owner operators running these businesses.’

‘It’s fantastic to see that more Cook Island businesses are taking notice of the Pacific Mentoring programme and recognising that it can help them achieve their goals.,’ adds Terry. ‘So far this year, around 60 have applied and we’re planning on making extra mentoring slots available next year so even more businesses can take advantage of the free service.’

The Pacific Business Mentoring Programme, which was launched earlier this year, aims to assist small and medium sized businesses in the Pacific to manage and grow their businesses in a way that supports sustained increases in production and employment over time. It is hoped the programme will be a catalyst for identifying other business needs such as training, and create opportunities for partnerships and joint ventures, and increased Pacific exports, including to New Zealand.

Countries benefiting from the BMNZ Pacific Islands Mentoring Programme include the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Niue, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Tokelau.

For more information on the BMNZ Pacific Islands Mentoring Programme visit www.businessmentorspacific.org.nz

ENDS

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