Kei aku māreikura, tēnā koutou, Aku mihi nui ki a koutou, i tēnei ra. Nau mai haere mai ki Te Whare Kawana. Kia ora tātou katoa.
I am indeed delighted to welcome you here this evening.
I know some of you attended last year’s SheEO reception at Government House in Wellington but I see that there are many new faces joining us this evening. Thank you all for coming.
It’s wonderful to see SheEO’s model of female empowerment inspiring women all around the country.
As we all know, New Zealand women have a talent for entrepreneurship.
A 2019 Mastercard survey of 58 countries, ranked New Zealand as second on their index of women entrepreneurs. But when you drill down the data you find that this achievement is underpinned by supportive entrepreneurial conditions such as ease of doing business and quality of governance, which give us an enabling business environment overall. Our female entrepreneurial rate was still ranked relatively low at 33rd.
Although four in every 10 business leaders are female, fewer than one third of our business owners are women. While that is higher than many other wealthy and innovation-driven economies such as Singapore, Denmark, Ireland and UK, the fact is that men are still over twice as likely to own businesses here.
Entrepreneurship offers women the chance to operate on their own terms, in their own time, and in line with their personal values. So why are we not seeing more women striking out on their own?
We know that one factor holding them back from doing so is access to capital.
At last year’s event, I quoted Jackie Blue, our former Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, who put it plainly:
“Unless women are intentionally included, they will be unintentionally excluded”.
For whatever reason, women have been traditionally excluded from investment opportunities and access to capital. Initiatives like SheEO help even up the odds.
Women empowering women is a simple and appealing concept.
Giving female entrepreneurs access to interest free loans gives them the freedom to fly. They can consolidate or expand, try new things, move into new markets and generally get on with growing their businesses.
Further, SheEO’s recognition of successful female enterprises enable their stories to inspire other women to follow their own dreams. The emphasis on enterprises that help to build stronger communities and a better world, resonates strongly with New Zealand women.
So too does the concept of radical generosity. The idea of changing the accepted way of doing things to make the world a better place is thrilling. I don’t get too many opportunities to be radical in this job, so I’m enjoying a slight feeling of subversiveness! And I have every intention of continuing to do so.
Thank you Theresa, for introducing SheEO to New Zealand. And for being so persuasive - and persistent, in encouraging us to become Activators! I’m sure that those of you who are new to the SheEO family will find it’s an offer you can’t refuse. Especially once you’ve heard from our wonderful speakers this evening.
I’m looking forward to hearing from Theresa about SheEO’s progress here in the last year. I’m also delighted to welcome back SheEO founder, Vicky Saunders. This is a fabulous opportunity for all of us to hear Vicky’s unique vision and find out how we can support other women by our involvement with SheEO.
And finally we’ll hear Sue de Bievre, of one of the entrepreneurs supported by SheEO in 2018, speak about the impact that radical generosity has had on her and her business.
Once again, thank you all for coming here this evening. Tonight is an opportunity to discover more about SheEO’s work to empower women and help our female entrepreneurs on the road to success. The resources to do so are right here in this room.
As Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, said “Your value is not what you know, it’s what you share”
Kia ora, kia kaha, kia manawanui huihui tātou katoa.