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Amotai Supports Māori And Pasifika Economies To Thrive

Amotai, Supplier Diversity Aotearoa re-launches to the public on Thursday 1 October, 2020.

Formerly named He Waka Eke Noa, the organisation is the first of its kind in Aotearoa. First established in 2018 by Auckland Council’s The Southern Initiative, the intermediary promotes the growth of Māori and Pasifika entrepreneurship through smarter use of procurement and supply chains.

In the past 12 months Amotai has created $45M worth of contracts for Māori and Pasifika-owned registered businesses. The success of this model has prompted the name change, a new digital platform and a national roll out.

“Māori and Pasifika businesses are key to growing the economic prosperity of our communities,” says Amotai’s Anna-Jane Edwards. “Our key point of difference is we work on the demand side with buyers. Without the opportunities large buyers are creating for Māori and Pasifika-owned businesses to win work, we won’t see the step change needed for Māori and Pacific economies to thrive.”

The success of Amotai has demonstrated the importance of supplier diversity in Aotearoa and in turn, has helped influence council targets. In July 2020 Auckland Council set a target spend of 5% with Amotai’s more than 400 registered businesses and social enterprises. This will grow to a 15% target in 2022.

“As we re-launch with our new name and new digital platform, we also launch Amotai into the regions,” adds Amotai’s Alex Hawea. “We are seeing a positive response towards supplier diversity targets and look forward to advising and working closely with central and local government and other buyers, nationwide.”

Supplier diversity was born out of the civil rights movement in the USA in the 1960s. It is a strategic business process that engages, supports and enables businesses owned by Indigenous peoples, minority groups, women and social enterprises to be engaged in business-to-business supply chains.

Its aim is to level the playing field, so these businesses have fairer access to customers and markets. It does not privilege one group over another but instead, is an intentional practice to open these groups to tender opportunities.

“Here in Aotearoa, our experience is that Māori and Pasifika are the untapped change agents in creating a more inclusive, and more sustainable, New Zealand economy,” says Anna-Jane. “Entrepreneurship is one of the main ways Māori and Pasifika can build wealth for their families and communities. The businesses we work with employ proportionately more Māori and Pasifika peoples than other businesses. Amotai helps get them a seat at the table then, their skill, experience and expertise, wins them the work.”

The new name, Amotai, is Māori and means the swell in the tide. It is inspired by the innovation, bravery, fortitude and exceptional navigational expertise our ancestors had in traversing Te Moana nui a Kiwa, the great Pacific Ocean. The amotai swell could be navigated day or night, in both fine and cloudy weather.

Today, that symbolism sets the organisation in good stead for creating a sustainable pipeline of opportunities, guiding growth through challenging times - like those seen through the current COVID-19 global pandemic.

“The Indigenous lens of our businesses is coming into the way in which they do business. We are seeing the crossover between environmental and social outcomes. Buyers are recognising the competitive advantage. This model is proven to help our communities and our economies thrive.”

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