Pacific business program in NZ struggling with funding

AUCKLAND,29 AUGUST 2018 (RNZ PACIFIC) – A business innovation program targeting Pacific youth in New Zealand says it needs to find funding soon to stay afloat.

HATCH was launched in December last year by the Pacific Business Trust and is about to enter its second phase.

But the program’s chief executive Tim Swann said the program has no dedicated budget and is relying on funds held by the trust:

“When you’re doing something new there’s an element of risk there, and we’ve had to just really leverage off of our personal relationships, our professional connections and that’s kind of typical for a lot of community initiatives that are a bit different,” said Tim Swann.

The Pacific Business Trust held NZ$4.7 million (US$3.1 million) in assets, according to its 2014 annual report.

The trust was established in 1985 and receives around NZ$1.2 million (US$805,000) in government funding each year, Swann said.

Using trust funds has forced HATCH to skimp and save, while the government is unlikely to provide specific funding because of the risks involved, he said.

HATCH offers support including grants, mentoring and legal assistance to six teams of Pacific business people and entrepreneurs aged between 16 and 26.

After a six-week intensive and ongoing support for members, the program expects to add at least another six teams later this year.

Swann said HATCH is playing an important role in fostering a pathway for Pacific people to get involved in business.

“We’ve had this really strong push towards getting people into tertiary and high-paid professional roles,” he said.

“So, that’s been great but I don’t think there’s really been a concerted community awareness that business ownership and entrepreneurship is also a viable option,” he said.

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