Te Waka boosts support for business


Waikato economic development agency Te Waka is scaling up as it helps businesses deal with Covid-19, adding four business advisors to its team.

That brings the total number to nine, as the organisation increasingly deals with questions around wellbeing, HR and cashflow management rather than traditional areas like developing marketing plans or budgets, chief executive Michael Bassett-Foss says.

“So it’s a different type of question. And we just need different service providers to be able to back us and our advisors up.”

The support comes from Waikato’s share of a $4 million fund announced by the Government several weeks ago, some of which is also going directly to businesses.

Professional support vouchers up to $5000 are available for business people and under the new regime they no longer need to co-fund in order to obtain it.

“We are getting more flexibility around how we can use this and what services business support can tap into,” Bassett-Foss said.

Demand was high to start with, while he said there seemed to be a slight lull when the wage support scheme kicked in.

Hamilton City Council has also given funding, as face-to-face meetings with business advisors have moved online.

Te Waka’s business advisors are now booking Zoom meeting slots with business owners. Advisors can also talk by phone if that is preferred. To secure a slot, business owners can visit www.tewaka.nz; call Te Waka on 07 857 0538; or email businessgrowth@tewaka.nz.

It means business owners can have someone to offer support and advice – and to simply talk to. The advisors can refer businesses owners to helpful resources including where to go for Government assistance.

Bassett-Foss described Te Waka’s role as being like that of a first responder.

“New Zealanders normally try and fly under the radar as a breed. We’ve got to be a support network that offers support even in a really challenging situation,” he said.

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