Ethnic businesses foster economic strength

Businesses owned and operated by ethnic communities and by immigrants are significant to economy recovery and growth in the export sector, a leading banker said at an international conference held in Auckland on May 18.

ANZ Managing Director (Business Banking) Fred Ohlsson said ethnic businesses had strong roots in their countries of origin.

“This sets them apart from many other small and medium-sized businesses. They are a source of strength for the entire economy,” he said, speaking at the ‘Ethnic People in Commerce’ Conference.

“Business and government have a role to play in helping link ethnic firms to New Zealand networks and realise their business potential, while unleashing wider benefits for New Zealand business and the economy,” he said, quoting excerpts from his Bank’s recent Survey.

Business Barometer

The ANZ 2012 Privately-owned Business Barometer accounted for a comprehensive of 4000 businesses across New Zealand.

“We heard from hundreds of ethnic businesspeople as part of this survey, which asked them how they were doing, and where they wanted to be. As mostly small and medium-sized businesses, these enterprises are at the heart of economic activity. It is important to note that about 90% of our firms employ fewer than 20 people,” Mr Ohlsson said.

Their international connections and exporting experience will ensure New Zealand’s export-led economic future, he added.

According to the Survey, ethnic businesspeople were leading the way in doing business with New Zealand’s key export markets.

“Those with ethnic ties to China, India, Japan and Vietnam are far more likely than others to be doing business in those markets. Many of them are also doing business in other markets.

“Businesses looking to operate internationally say they struggle to build up offshore connections and networks and that cultural differences and language barriers are holding back their export ambitions.

“While these firms are struggling to find contacts, customers and distribution channels abroad, many ethnic firms already have these connections and they know how to make them work for their business,” Mr Ohlsson said.

He said ethnic business communities were achieving ‘amazing things’ in a tough business environment.

“This is testament to the ideas, energy and determination they have to build a more prosperous future. They are working with long-standing contacts and business networks in their country of origin,” Mr Ohlsson said.

Photo : Fred Ohlsson

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