17 October 2011

Westpac to focus on three initiatives to Grow New Zealand

Westpac New Zealand will focus on developing regional leadership, infrastructure and tertiary based financial education for small businesses in the next stage of its Grow New Zealand program.

Grow New Zealand was started earlier this year with the objective of looking how Westpac can help businesses have the confidence to invest for growth. It has involved hosting 14 forums across the country engaging with more than 500 business, community and local government leaders with findings mapped against a survey of 900 businesses.

Westpac New Zealand Chief Executive George Frazis said the communities that prospered and were positive had attracted good infrastructure, strategies to retain their youth and attract people and small businesses that were outward focused and able to face challenges. Most importantly, they had strong local Government and community leaders with clear priorities and a common vision.

“Sound local leadership promotes confidence, infrastructure is a key enabler and small-medium sized businesses told us to translate potential to growth they want more financial knowledge to help grow their business,” Mr Frazis said.

“We are looking to work at a local level to promote thought leadership, grow confidence in the economy and stimulate growth.”

As a result, Westpac is now:

  • working with Sir Peter Blake Trust to develop civic leadership capability and utilise their alumni. Westpac is also working with local enterprise councils to include recognition of civic leadership in the 20 Business Excellence Awards it sponsors across the country
  • looking to introduce tertiary based financial education programmes tailored for small-medium businesses that carry nationally recognised qualifications
  • engaged in the support of non traditional infrastructure such as affordable housing and water

“The strong message to come through is that business confidence is improving. Our goal is to provide practical support and tools to help build that confidence and then turn it into growth,” Mr Frazis said.

“We have an unrivalled commitment to grow the New Zealand economy and support local communities and I am confident in New Zealand’s recovery and improved prosperity.”

Expanding on its founding role of the New Zealand Centre for Personal Financial Education, Westpac is looking to introduce tertiary based courses tailored for SME’s that will carry nationally recognised qualifications. Courses will cover topics from business planning to financial management.

Westpac and The Sir Peter Blake Trust will work together to build and support civic leadership with interested regions. That will be backed by the introduction of awards recognising strong and innovative leadership that contributes positively to a local economy in the Westpac sponsored Business Excellence Awards.

Westpac will be hosting a hui in Auckland on November 14th to discuss affordable housing and bringing together iwi, Committee for Auckland, the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development and other interested parties. In addition, Westpac is participating in Housing New Zealand’s Welcome Home Loans scheme that offers assistance to first home buyers.

Non traditional infrastructure such as affordable housing has clear societal benefits that can have a long term positive impact on local economies.


Fact Box

  • 14 Forums hosted across the country
  • More than 500 business and community leaders engaged
  • Westpac’s local approach will support civic leadership, financial knowledge for SME’s and non-traditional infrastructure