Mr Pihama says Kiwibank has responded to these challenges by adopting a te ao Māori approach to the way it engages with its customers, and by disrupting some of its own rules.
“We’ve changed the way we assess a company’s historical performance; we look at non-financial factors, such as experience, expertise and customer loyalty, as well as financial factors like revenue and cashflow. Importantly, for smaller sums of lending, we’ve also removed the requirement that the lending needs to be secured against a business owner’s personal property.”
One customer who has benefitted from Kiwibank’s new lending criteria is Whangārei solar panel company Solartive. Ella Te Huia-Phillips, director of Solartive launched the company after seeing the need for solar power in rural Te Tai Tokerau/Northland communities. Ella approached other banks to source the funding for starting Solartive, however Kiwibank were a far better option to go with offering more flexible terms so, she turned to Kiwibank.
“Kiwibank were amazing to deal with, I had one person who helped me through the whole process which made it simple and easy. And it is awesome to know I was dealing with a New Zealand-owned bank. The funding has helped us stay in business, helps with cashflow, inventory and with the overall growth of our business.”
Kiwibank General Manager of Business Banking, Joanna Greaves, says while the initiative was born out of the need to address some of the challenges unique to Māori, the changes will benefit all start-up and young business in need of lending to grow.
“One of the great things about this mahi is that it enables Māori and non-Māori businesses to grow and thrive, delivering on our purpose of making Kiwi better off.