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Ten* After Ten: Kat Jenkins on why we should be working together more

Not enough has changed over the last 10 years. I’m convinced New Zealand needs to focus on its innovation economy. I speak regularly to people doing amazing things – very few of them are agriculture and tourism related, yet that’s what the Government pushes. A flourishing economy should be multi-faceted and multi-cultural. But that’s not the overarching discourse we hear from the top.

When we think about our most interesting and inspiring entrepreneurs, they’re often focussed on building new things – the “Number 8 Wire” approach. Xero, Vend, and dozens of others are forging new businesses in new areas that aren’t recognised as “building value” to our economy, anywhere near as much as farming.

As a country we’re not working together and looking for new ideas. Today I spoke to someone who is trying to push building with hemp. This could potentially reduce our carbon emissions, take pressure off the housing crisis and build an entirely new part of the agriculture industry, but they’re doing it by themselves.

Over the next 10 years I think we are going to see more communities focussed on building new things together. There will be more socialised voting on projects through crowdfunding, and hopefully more Government departments harnessing the efficiencies and opportunities that come with a more connected population.

I also think entrepreneurship will become a real focus. The 9-5 office model simply doesn’t work for so many people (myself and most millennials included). With the internet, crowdfunding, and co-working spaces increasing in popularity, more people will choose a working lifestyle that fits their life – as opposed to wedging life around their work.

What keeps me awake at night about New Zealand’s place in the creative economy? It’s the fact we focus on the wrong things. We’re a little nation at the bottom of the world with an entire population which has a “can do” but relaxed attitude. There’s a lack of coordinated response to driving creativity and innovation. It worries me that the focus is on exporting lamb and dairy, rather than our ideas – which are far more valuable, and cheaper to export.

Kat Jenkins founded specialist crowdfunding strategy company Multitude.

*Dodgy counting alert: Initially, we actually we asked 10 people to answer these questions as part of a magazine cover feature to celebrate our tenth birthday. But we liked those 10 answers so much, we kept asking more people. Stay tuned for more over the summer months.

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