Diversity on Programme: Impacting Asian Owners

Posted by The Icehouse on 9/05/2023 12:00:00 AM

“Business” and trade, has been a cornerstone of the Asian way of life for thousands of years. In Aotearoa, the Asian business community is thriving and, in a country where business is relatively easy to do, and setting up a new business equally so, for many ambitious Asian entrepreneurs, investing in, or forming, an enterprise is a practical and lucrative way to get set in NZ. 

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Official statistics are hard to come by around how many Asian-owned businesses exist in New Zealand, but the demographics are extremely positive; approximately 15.3% of New Zealand’s total population identify as Asian. 

Under the Statistics New Zealand classification, this refers to populations who have ancestral origins in East Asia (China, Japan, Korea), Southeast Asia (Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam) and South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). 

Taking into account that entrepreneurial DNA, and it’s safe to assume Asian-owned businesses are making a significant contribution to the NZ economy. 

Many of our Asian-heritage alumni feed back to us that cultural differences, language barriers and navigating New Zealand’s business landscape can be a barrier to growth. Access to opportunity can help, as Garry Ko, Executive Director at RCR Infrastructure Limited and Owner Manager Programme (OMP) participant, explains. 

“There are some very good owners on my OMP and I’m broadening my network. OMP provides opportunities for Asian business owners like myself to connect with other local business leaders and build relationships. This has already led to new business partnerships, referrals, and collaborations. 

“OMP also offers education and training on a variety of topics, such as leadership, management, marketing, and finance. This helps traditional Asian business owners improve their skills and knowledge and run their businesses more effectively from a New Zealand perspective. OMP also increases my visibility as an Asian business owner and helps me establish myself as a leader in our industry or community.” 

Garry adds that his OMP experience also provides access to resources such as mentorship, funding, and business development services which can help other Asian business owners overcome challenges and grow their businesses by going out to the local communities for banking, finance and other professional advisory services outside the Asian-only community. 

Moreover, his OMP experience brought back good opportunities and connections to his community. As John Chow – Chairman of RCR Infrastructure says, “OMP gives Garry the affirmation accompanying his experience to be a good Asian business leader in Aotearoa.”

Ultimate success comes from providing a platform for Asian business owners to engage with the wider and “mainstream” population and businesses – and vice versa – by getting access to previously untapped opportunities through better links with the business community nationwide. 

This is why diversity on programme at The Icehouse is vital, as Anthony Gold, Customer Growth Partner at The Icehouse explains. Diversity in our programmes, workshops and coaching services paves the way for more insightful and relatable content which gives all participants greater value over time. 

“Diversity on programme provides The Icehouse with diversity on insight. Welcoming programme participants from different nationalities and different backgrounds helps paint a much richer picture of what is possible in the New Zealand business ownership landscape.

“These diversity insights are also a two-way street. We can learn more about the challenges facing owners today, and that empowers us to create more meaningful and relevant programme content, events, and networking opportunities, and that's really important.”

“One of the most important things was the network,” says Lucia Xiao, owner and founder of Finax. “Before OMP, I didn’t really know that these awesome chartered accountants existed or that there was help available to set up a board. 

“So, I met a lot of amazing people I’d never heard of! It opened my mind to how important networking is and how that pivots into other business opportunities. I’m already talking to some of the network about future partnerships. I know there will be a few alumni from the network who I will use.”

Developing resilience, clarifying your purpose and your why, instilling a growth mindset, fostering a stimulating and rewarding culture of work built on recognising success, and giving people the tools they need to successfully perform their roles, aren’t part of any entrepreneur’s DNA. But there are places you can go to find out more.

OMP gave Mike Shin, owner and founder of the Pocha Group, a chance to step back and view his business through a new lens and tap into some of the skills you can’t find in a textbook or online. 

“I've learnt too many things! In block three [of OMP] I have learnt two big things which have touched me personally. One was to become a better leader by building a positive culture and making continuous improvements with the right people. And it also helped me to achieve a greater understanding that having passion and the right people can make the impossible possible. I'm still learning but there's still more to go!

“Just like other businesses, we deal with challenges every day, so grit always comes in. Always make sure to surround yourself with positive people and with the right advisors with a positive mindset.” 

For information on programmes, workshops and business coaching services from The Icehouse, click here.

For more business ownership and leadership advice, check out more of our resources.

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Topics: Owner Manager Programme