Entrepreneurs tell Jacinda Ardern NZ has good ideas, but isn't good at selling them

Jacinda Ardern has been told by entrepreneurs that New Zealanders have great business ideas, but aren't so good at selling them. 

The Prime Minister attended an event in Melbourne on Thursday hosted by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), a government agency tasked with promoting New Zealand business internationally. 

In a press conference after the event, Ardern said the overriding message she received from attendees was that New Zealand is "full of exceptional entrepreneurs" but that there's a "real lack of capital there for them". 

Ardern said while New Zealanders were widely praised at the event, she said the challenge identified for Kiwis is that "we have great ideas, but we're not always good at selling them, and that there's a confidence gap". 

"I in part raised this myself, the fact that we do have tall poppy syndrome in New Zealand, and this does contribute to our entrepreneur ecosystem as well, and that is something we have to overcome."

The Prime Minister pointed to efforts to boost entrepreneurship in New Zealand, such as the venture capital fund announced in Budget 2019 to the value of $300 million, financed in part by the sovereign wealth fund. 

"We can do something about the capital that's available for those entrepreneurs but it's something else to try and support them to be confident to sell themselves and their business abroad and at home."

When asked if New Zealand is failing to sell itself, Ardern said it plays into a "cultural issue that we have in New Zealand - it makes us an incredibly humble nation and it makes us easy to do business with". 

The Prime Minister speaking to press in Melbourne.
The Prime Minister speaking to press in Melbourne. Photo credit: Newshub

"Our approach isn't always an aggressive one, so it contributes in part to some of the positives for us as a country. But at the same time, we do need to be confident in selling some of the fantastic world-leading ideas that we have.

"We have the ability to be the best in the world but we may not always be willing to sell ourselves as such."

Last week the Government announced that businesses that haven't yet made a profit will be eligible for more research and development (R&D) funding under the Government's tax incentive scheme.  

Pre-profit companies that invest $2 million in R&D will now be entitled to get back $300,000 of that investment from the Government if they meet some broader conditions. 

The Government has been plagued with talk of low business confidence since the economy slowed during 2017 and 2018. 

The Prime Minister promised in July last year there would be no new surprises for businesses, after business confidence slumped to a seven-year-low. 

This week ANZ said small business confidence remains low but growth prospects are showing signs of improvement. 

The bank's acting managing director of retail and business banking, Benjamin Kelleher, said while there have been some promising results, "pessimism continues to dominate small business confidence". 

The Prime Minister has blamed an economic slowdown in New Zealand on global conditions, but National leader Simon Bridges says it's because of the Government's domestic policies. 

Ardern will meet with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday. She said she'll raise the issue of Kiwis being deported from Australia who have no connection to New Zealand. 


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