Change agent for business acknowledged

By Joseph Aldridge

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Tauranga businesswoman Frances Denz was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business.

The executive director of Stellaris - an NZQA-registered training provider, ACC rehabilitation provider and provider of business mentoring for Te Puni Kokiri - Ms Denz has been instrumental in establishing more than 4000 businesses since 1986. She has also been a trustee of Disabled Distributors and national manager of Ready Willing and Able, which provides business start-up training to people with disabilities.

Drawing from her experiences as a woman in business and her 29-year battle with cancer, Ms Denz has published 13 works including Women at the Top for aspiring women directors, Able to Do Business - a business guide for people with disabilities, and Thrive Not Survive for those dealing with life trauma.

Ms Denz said her personal life experiences provided the motivation for her involvement in many different organisations.

"It actually goes back a long way in that as a young woman I was very unwell for many years and business was my opportunity to get well.

"My philosophy is giving people the skills to take care of their own lives because illness and disability are very disempowering.

"I don't like the words 'survivor' and 'victim' because they're put-downs. What I like is for people to have challenges and learn to grow."

Ms Denz said she was thankful for the "change agents" in her life and had endeavoured to be a positive change agent in other people's lives.

After less than 10 years in Tauranga, Ms Denz considered herself one of the city's foremost cheerleaders.

"I absolutely love Tauranga, it's an exciting place to live, there's just so much opportunity, it's wide open."

She has been a director of Tauranga City Aquatics, a trustee on the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust board and a board member of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce. She is also a member of Priority One, Tauranga City Partners and the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce.

She was made a provisional accredited director for the New Zealand Institute of Directors - the achievement of which she was proudest until she was asked to become a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Ms Denz said she was surprised and excited to receive the honour.

"A lot of my work has been with small businesses and disadvantaged ones and often they get ignored and yet they're the basis of our economy."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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