Pacific Business Trust (PBT) is undergoing a major refocus and embarking on a new strategic direction that will allow the Trust to provide better services and more investment for Pacific businesses, says PBT Chair Fa’amatuainu Tino Pereira.
The Trust’s mission is addressing economic disparity in Pacific communities through enterprise. Its last strategic refresh was in 2016.
Under the Trust’s new direction, it is focused on three key areas for Pacific business development in New Zealand.
First, start ups and helping people with new business ideas to develop and promote their business will be a major focus. They are also focused on helping Pacific people already in business. “Those who are now earning realistic and significant revenues…to make sure that they become sustainable and very successful big businesses,” he says.
Social enterprise is another work area for Pacific Business Trust. “We want to make sure that social enterprise becomes a fairly sustainable business model for our community,” says Fa’amatuainu. “Because as you know, our community has done social enterprise. There are significant small businesses operating in our community, in our churches that have the potential to create sustainable and long lasting enterprises.”
Along with those changes, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples now has a new contracting arrangement with the Trust, says the Chair. One that focuses on outcomes, rather than inheriting previous contracting arrangements which focused on inputs.
Together with the refocused approach and a new strategic direction, “that’s a big piece of work that we are working with this current Government,” says Fa’amatuainu.
“What we want to do is move towards a Pacific development or economic agency so that we move away from just a business trust,“ he says.
“So we are broadening the scale to include the economic landscape to allow for far better opportunities for our Pacific businesses…so that’s a big change for us.”
“That needs significant resources…significant capacity and capability and that’s the piece of work we’re now working with this current Government to try and bear fruit on.”
For Pacific businesses, says Fa’amatuainu, it means helping to develop and promote them, “but also we hope we going have some investment capability that we can actually invest in business. But at the moment, we can’t because we don’t have any money.”
Measuring the Pacific Economy
Last December, Pacific Business Trust signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Treasury to undertake what the Chair describes as “one of the most critical projects that the Pacific Business Trust is collaborating with Treasury.”
“This is the first time that we are actually going to find out some information on what is the Pacific economy in New Zealand? What is our contribution to GDP? What is the wealth of our sector? What assets do we have as a community asset?”
“Getting that picture will help us and help the Government provide a very significant profile of our contribution as a community to this country. It will allow us and allow the Government to say, Ok, that’s the most important policy implication for our community: how can the government resource that? What are the options out there now that we have some basic data?”
The contribution of Pacific people in New Zealand over generations has long been an undocumented asset. The lack of documented information about the contribution of Pacific people in New Zealand over generations may, perhaps, speak to a wider issue.
“In my experience over the last 20 or 30 years of working in the (government) sector, we are continuing still to fight the system that doesn’t truly recognise our values, our contribution to these communities. The issue of institutional racism still dominates this landscape when it comes to us.”
“So again, we are continuing to fight the system which on one hand, they say we recognise we are a priority population for a lot of those (government) policies. But…the walk doesn’t always match with the talk. And we continue to go through that.”
Be Open to Scrutiny
Fa’amatuainu says it’s about time that we need to stand up as a community. But he also issues a direct challenge to Pacific people if organisations and people are going to improve and progress.
“It’s also about time that we need to make sure that we don’t hide our inefficiencies, that we don’t hide the things we don’t do well. Because we always said, you know, if someone goes down, it has an impact on all of us.
“I think it’s about time we become honest with ourselves,” he says. “We need to provide some scrutiny on what we do in the hope and in the faith that that will allow us to be the best of who we are, in moving forward and advocating for the rest of us.”
Kiwa Nuanua Pacific Tech Summit
Last month, Pacific Business Trust hosted a Pacific Tech Summit Kiwa Nuanua at Auckland’s Queen’s Wharf Shed 10. For many new to the digital tech space, the sessions inspired and provided helpful information.
“It’s the first attempt by PBT to try and get into the tech business,” says the Chair Fa’amatuainu.
“We haven’t had a lot of time to organise this because of contractual obligations we have with the Ministry of Pacific Peoples. So…as a first step…to try and get onto the tech landscape, I think it’s been a success today.”
“But it means we’ve got a long way to go,” he says. “We’ve got a lot more hard work to do. But it’s a first day to try and engage the Pacific community, or the Pacific tech sector, I think we did really well. But as I said, this is a long journey for us.”
Last month’s tech summit was hosted at Auckland’s Queen Wharf, rather than Manukau where the largest Pacific population reside, to help mitigate costs for the event. “We’ve got some sponsorships, we’ve probably got some resources that were made available to us through having this venue that was available to us.”
“I think one of the issues for us is to elevate our business sector, how we treat them and find some facilities for them to work,” he says.
The Pacific Business Trust, the sole government unit focused on Pacific business growth and development, receives $1.2 million in government funding through the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.
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Photo credit: Pacific Business Trust.