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Successful support: A year of growth for the NZ Pacific Business Council

Everyone needs a support network – even if you're the biggest name in New Zealand business. As the representative body for around 80 members, mostly major players in local and global infrastructure, the New Zealand Pacific Business Council (NZPBC) plays an important role in providing this network. 

We spoke to the Council's chair, Devin Brown, about their productive 2017 and some interesting goals for the year ahead. 

Building pillars for Pacific growth

The bulk of the NZPBC's work is in facilitating growth for its members, linking them with projects in Pacific nations that can see them expand operations. These are often funded by the World Bank or Asian Development Bank, and are large-scale developments focused on the road, rail and energy.

"We leverage our networks to get businesses to access to expertise and experience that can help them get tenders, deal with overseas business challenges or simply find a better way of doing things," Devin notes.

"For example – we have a lot of contacts in government agencies like the NZTE and MFAT, not to mention on the ground in a pretty large number of Pacific nations. It means our members can get high-level advice or network with the right people to find new projects that they might not otherwise be able to secure."

But of course, networks are never static. The NZPBC is constantly growing in scope, identifying growth prospects for its members and establishing new relationships. In 2017, this came in the form of a business delegation to the Solomon Islands. 

The NZPBC delegation to the Solomon Islands in 2017.

"This was really successful in four main areas: political insight, exposure to local companies, defining the infrastructure opportunity pipeline and enabling bilateral relationships for New Zealand businesses in the future. We sent 16 people over, including our Deputy Chair Paul Pledge and Grahame Solloway from the NZTE, and it was a resounding success."

With more expeditions on the way for 2018, the NZPBC has a clear understanding of the role it can play in building these networks. Devin is particularly impressed with the work his executives are willing to do in their free time – working for the NZPBC is a voluntary task.

Constitution and change on the agenda

The 2017 Annual General Meeting was a landmark moment for the NZPBC, as Devin explains.

"We actually ratified our constitution at the AGM last year, which was a huge step for our organisation. While it's essentially just a piece of paper, it gives us a really strong backbone and ensures good governance in everything we do moving forward."

One of the first steps for the organisation under its new constitution is changing how it communicates. With strong financial reserves after 2017 activities, the NZPBC is in a good position to allocate funding to some of its internal processes, which will in turn benefit members.

How does the NZPBC help local businesses grow?

"We're putting a lot of effort into the digitisation of our communications," Devin notes. "This will let members get in touch with government representatives of experienced businesses much faster, strengthening those support networks and letting relationships grow every day."

Devin believes this kind of flexibility and breadth of support is critical for any business that wants to operate in the Pacific.

"Working in the Pacific, you're never dealing with one country. Every nation is so complex and independent, presenting its own unique set of challenges for those doing business there. You need a centralised phone book of people you can call for advice or advocacy, and that's exactly what the NZPBC is here for."

"Our executive is fantastic, our members are thriving and we're only growing stronger. A lot of the time, businesses won't get the results they need if they go it alone – you need that network to succeed."