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Digital Boost for small businesses in New Zealand

The New Zealand government is taking steps to protect and encourage small businesses from a tech perspective. Small businesses will now benefit from a government-funded Digital Boost skills training and support initiative.

“Today we start delivering on the Government’s vision for New Zealand small businesses to be the most digitally-enabled in the world. 2021 will be the year of digital transformation for thousands of Kiwi small businesses” said AJ Millward, General Manager Small Business and Strategic Programmes.

The Digital Boost skills training is the first initiative to be launched from the Digital Boost programme, a partnership between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the private sector to support thousands of small businesses in realising the benefits of using digital tools and technologies in their business.

The Small Business Digital Boost initiative will support more small business owners to realise the benefits of digitising their business. The programme aims to ensure small businesses acquire the right digital skills and online tools to help their business survive and thrive.

To deliver the training and support, MBIE is collaborating with a  market partner who has extensive experience in helping business owners develop the capabilities needed to take advantage of the rapidly changing digital environment.

The Digital Boost programme is an excellent example of the public and private sectors working together for New Zealand small businesses. Industry Leaders, small business owners and MBIE have designed this programme to meet the needs of the country’s SMEs. This is more pertinent as New Zealand, and indeed, the world is looking to come out of the pandemic more resilient and future-focused. Adapting to a digital world that is increasingly going online, contactless and remote will be key.

Management experts estimated that in eight weeks, the pandemic accelerated the business adoption of digital tools and services by the equivalent of five years. Research and data indicate that small businesses that leverage digital tools have a distinct competitive advantage in the digital age.

Technology, like big data, analytics, AI, etc., have the power to significantly ramp up the efficiency and profitability of businesses. Increasing customers reach, streamlining processes, managing vendors and inventory,  deriving insights from data – all of these areas hugely benefit from using digital tools.

The Small business Digital Boost Key initiatives support more small business owners to realise the benefits of digitalisation. MBIE is partnering with the private sector to deliver the following initiatives within the Small Business Digital Boost programme:

Spotlight Series: where small business owners who have recently transformed their business by adopting digital tools and digital ways of working share their experiences to benefit other small business owners.

Skills Training and Support: focused on building the skills, confidence and trust required to enable small business owners to realise the benefits of working digitally and/or with digital tools. The training will be available to any small business who has begun to explore the digital world and wants a boost to accelerate their adoption.

The Right Tool: a New Zealand-based digital applications and services marketplace that brings together digital tools, technologies, products and services into a central place so small businesses can choose the products most suited to what they need. Businesses owners will be able to quickly find, rate and evaluate the apps and digital tools needed to help run their business.

Earlier in the year, Small Business Minister Stuart Nash and Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced details of a $20 million digital package to support small businesses and tourism operators to transition digitally in the COVID-19 world.

Minister Nash acknowledged that big businesses like supermarkets, banks, professional and corporate service providers and manufacturers have undergone digital transformation, but small and medium enterprises are at risk of lagging. He felt that the wider use of digital commerce by SMEs will help them adapt and innovate to thrive in the COVID economy.

The earmarked corpus will help small businesses and tourism operators transition in the COVID-19 world by lifting digital capability. The $20 million package includes:

  • $10 million specifically for SMEs, announced in Budget 2020.
  • $10 million announced as part of the Tourism Recovery Package – $5 million to boost digital capability in the tourism sector through existing digital enablement programmes and $5 million for Qualmark to help operators develop strategies and skills.
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