ASB to propel rising Māori business stars

26 June 2024

To coincide with Matariki, ASB has launched Te Mātahi, a new business lending programme aimed at supporting entrepreneurship and growing the Māori economy. By providing access to capital, the programme will help established Māori businesses to upscale alongside additional support.  

The programme will initially work with a small number of high-growth Māori businesses that are underpinned by cultural values and integrate Te Ao Māori into the way they operate.  Anthony Ririnui, ASB's Kaihautū Māori, Te Waka Whaihua says there's a demonstrated need for a tailored approach to lending to Māori businesses.   

"Research by Te Pūtea Matua, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, shows Māori are underrepresented in business ownership and Māori businesses face higher funding costs than non-Māori businesses due to their ownership structures and characteristics.  Te Mātahi offers both access to finance, support and networks to enable trade opportunities for growth," says Ririnui.  

"Matariki is traditionally a time for remembrance, celebrating the present, and planning for the future, so this feels like the perfect time to launch this kaupapa."  

Te Ōhanga Māori, the Māori economy, is a fast-growing and important part of Aotearoa New Zealand's economy, contributing tens of billions to the country's GDP.  Currently valued at $70 billion, and with significant assets in the primary sectors, the Māori economy is expected to grow to $100 billion by 2030. 

Te Mātahi has been designed to support this growth.  In addition to capital, participating businesses will receive mentorship, resources for scaling operations, and access to networks that can open doors to domestic and international markets.  

The programme will be delivered in partnership with Māori business development service Poutama Trust and others. 

Eligible entities will be able to access discounted finance of between $250,000 to $1 million and must be Māori-owned growth businesses with a proven track-record and looking to take their business to the next stage of $2 million of turnover within the next 12 months. Businesses must also demonstrate how they are integrating Te Ao Māori values and principles in a meaningful way. 

"That could be embracing principles such as kaitiakitanga environmental protection and guardianship, having procurement policies to support Māori economic development, building cultural capability, or social and community development programmes among other practices." 

Following the pilot, it is intended that Te Mātahi will be opened up to a wider range of Māori-owned businesses, ensuring the benefits of the fund ripple out across the Māori economy. 

In addition to Te Mātahi, ASB's Māori Business team Te Waka Whaihua is working with Māori customers to support progress across a range of initiatives including access to finance and housing development. 

ASB's framework for lending on whenua Māori is supporting whānau to return to living on their ancestral land, while a portion of its $500 million Accelerated Housing Fund has been targeted towards the purposes of Māori housing development and investment. The bank is also able to lend on the value of forestry, opening up another pathway to access capital and meaning that Māori entities can unlock value in their assets base.  

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