23 Sep 2020

Māori businesses focusing more on profits in pandemic - survey

4:57 pm on 23 September 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted Māori businesses to pay greater attention to their finances although they remain closely focused on their social and environmental priorities.

business documents accounting with calculator, pen, glasses and magnifying glass. concept for financial

Photo: 123RF

A survey by accounting firm BDO of mainly small and medium-sized businesses owned by hapū and whānau owned showed that finances and getting the right skilled staff loomed larger in their outlooks.

BDO head Māori business Kylee Potae said the change in attitude was clear but subtle.

"A focus is being put on profits, not to lift the focus above the people and planet, but to lift the line of sight on profits up for greater alignment."

She said Māori businesses had a broader, more holistic approach than most businesses which focused on more narrow financial factors.

"The sector remains very much underpinned by [its] commitment to people, culture, and the planet."

The survey showed that about a third of respondents said happiness and well-being of whānau remained their main indicators of success, but financial performance was being given greater importance.

"I think it is hugely positive that these entities are maturing into that space, to say that having profits is a good thing for a long term sustainable business."

Among the difficulties businesses cited as barriers to growth was access to funding, and getting the right qualified staff.

"The sector is still grappling with a shortage of qualified workers, making recruitment and retention a challenge and placing further pressure on entities to develop talent from within," Potae said.

She said cultural competence was an important factor in hiring staff as well.

However, the pandemic showed that many businesses were using e-commerce more and had improved industry collaboration. Conversely, it appeared there was a marked drop in the number wanting to trade globally, which Potae said might be a short term reaction to Covid-19.

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