Charting a new course – exploring the 2021 BDO Māori Business Sector Report

BDO recently released our annual 2021 BDO Māori Business Sector Report – and to explore the findings in more detail, our BDO Māori Business team held a webinar to take us through what the current priorities are for Māori businesses as we move to the next phase of the COVID-19 response, as well as business confidence levels in the sector and where they feel future opportunities lie – both at home and abroad.

BDO Māori Business Sector Lead Angela Edwards began the webinar by providing a short overview of the report, highlighting that we had over 100 businesses participating in the survey, spread throughout Aotearoa.


Resilient Māori business strategies centred on happy and well whānau

Next Kylee Potae, Advisory Partner, BDO Gisborne, talked about people, noting that for the third year in a row happy and well whānau was considered the most important priority for Māori businesses – even despite the financial pressures caused by COVID-19.

This shows the enduring values of Māori business - even when faced with more immediate pressures, their strategic intent still stays the course of a pandemic, and confirms that this long-term strategy continues to be the right one.

The importance of economic sustainability

Next, Phillip Roth, Advisory Partner, BDO Christchurch, talked about profit. Financial performance was noted as the second most important priority for Māori businesses in the report. Māori businesses are appreciating just how important it is to be economically sustainable and there has been a shift in Māori business to focus more on financial governance.

However this is not about pursuing profit for its own sake. Instead, Phillip discussed the concept of holistic profit – creating wealth in a broader sense, so that it’s not just about personal gain, rather it’s about using wealth to provide wellbeing for community and people. Related, Phillip spoke about the importance of board reports including non-financial indicators around people, culture and planet, as well as profit areas.

Accompanying this, financial literacy enhancement was mentioned many times in the survey. There continues to be a greater need for investment in knowledge, skills and capabilities of boards and governors in order to achieve financial sustainability.

Te taiao and integrated reporting

Angela then discussed te taiao (the environment), noting that because Māori businesses are so value-focussed, it’s impossible to discuss people, planet or profit separately – they all weave together and it’s important to look at everything holistically, which was a key theme of the report.

Angela spoke about kaitiakitanga – this is about how you go about caring and looking after the environment and the wider world. She notes that 88% of Māori businesses surveyed felt they were environmentally sustainable – this was the case even for very small businesses, showing that sustainability remains central.

Angela also noted that many respondents are not reporting on their sustainability initiatives and there is a real gap in the market for a reporting tool that looks at ESG through a Te Ao Māori lens.

Kylee finished the webinar by discussing the indigenous mindset, showing how people, planet and profit are interwoven, and for Māori in business this is a super power. It’s unique in a business environment that’s normally linear, with Kylee noting that the movement forward needs more integrated thinking and more impact-integrated reporting. XRB has recently acknowledged this and is currently working on a reporting framework that fits better for Māori organisations that takes into account integrated reporting.

View the BDO Māori Business report here and get in touch with one of our Māori business advisers today if you’d like to learn more about the trends discussed.