Research by ASB among small and medium-sized businesses reveals SMEs are struggling to find the information they need most to help their business manage the economic impacts of COVID-19.
To meet this need, ASB has launched a new online resource - the ASB Business Hub - to provide New Zealand SMEs with advice and tools.
The ASB Business Hub is free to access for all New Zealand businesses.
Since COVID-19 began, ASB executive general manger Business Banking Tim Deane says they have helped around 10,500 business customers with cash flow pressures through various financial support options. This includes $180m in low interest overdrafts, of principal relief and deferred payments on $5bn of existing loans.
Deane says the last few months have been particularly hard on small businesses and ASB has committed to supporting these businesses as the economy returns to a new normal.
"SMEs are the backbone of New Zealand's economy, providing about 600,000 jobs and contributing around 26% of New Zealand's GDP, but more than that, they are Mums and Dads, families and entrepreneurs," says Deane.
In an ASB SME pulse check survey conducted in April with several hundred small business customers, 46% said they felt they would need to reinvent themselves following COVID. Asked what support they felt would be useful from the banking industry, the majority of customers said help optimising and reducing cost in their business or support with being innovative in the new normal would be most useful.
Deane says the ASB Business Hub was developed to provide SMEs with the support they need most.
"Over the last few months we have been working closely with businesses across the country and listening to what they need and what they are struggling with. A lot of the same themes were coming up in these conversations and we realised this was something we could help with.
"One of the challenges SMEs tell us they face is having the time to find information and insights they could use to shape their businesses. The ASB Business Hub is designed to curate business knowledge into one place at their fingertips.
"While we know there is there is no silver bullet for all businesses, we've teamed up with our own experts and banking partners to provide support, information and tools for SMEs in one easy to access place," says Deane.
As well as information and advice, the ASB Business Hub will provide a number of partner offers for customers, including discounted access to the likes of Xero and MYOB accounting software. Some of ASB's own tools, such as Vonto which gives customers a curated daily feed of useful information about their business, will also be available.
The hub will house content around how other SMEs have managed the COVID challenges and tips and tools, such as the COVID support navigation wizard that helps identify what financial support companies might be eligible for, both from ASB and the Government - a first in New Zealand.
According to a 2019 Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment report, there are more than half a million businesses in New Zealand, and 97% are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees.
The Business Hub is a continuation of ASB's focus on backing business to support New Zealand's economy. ASB will be adding new content, tools and partner offers going forward, and more initiatives for New Zealand SMEs will be announced in the coming weeks.
"Our vision for the ASB Business Hub is for it to become a one-stop shop for New Zealand SMEs wanting to grow, and we'll be building up the hub over time to reach that goal," says Deane.
To find out more, please visit https://businesshub.asb.co.nz.