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Public and private sectors team up to support SMEs

The public and private sectors are teaming up in a new initiative to support SMEs.

BNZ and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have committed to providing up to $1.5 million to help entrepreneurs complete The Icehouse's programme for established businesses.

"New Zealand is a nation of SMEs," says BNZ director-partners Anthony Healy, but we need to improve labour productivity.

While many think of the Icehouse as an incubator for startups, chief executive Andy Hamilton says its lesser-known Owner Manager Programme has been running for 10 years with a 96 percent customer satisfaction rate.

The OMP is a 17-day residential programme held over five months, designed to assist up-and-running SMEs grow their businesses. Owners can now apply to have the cost of the programme reduced from $20,000 to $10,000, however, between BNZ's funding and NZTE's Management Capability Vouchers scheme. 

"The Icehouse is looking to make a five-fold increase in our impact over the next 10 years," Hamilton says.

Hans Frauenlob, GM of products and services at NZTE, says the scheme was a "no brainer" and reflects the organisations' common purpose.

"The basic premise is lowering the barriers for a business person, and cost is a barrier."

It's the first complementary private/public scheme of its kind, he says.

"This is the private sector stepping up and putting their money where their mouth is."

According to Frauenlob, a recent study of 152 businesses, Management Matters in New Zealand: How does Manufacturing Measure Up?showed a strong correlation between good management and increased output.

Business owners can contact the Icehouse for more information or to apply.