Overcoming a perception that businesspeople lack global ambition is a key challenge in convincing Kiwis living overseas to invest in local start-ups, a survey says.
The research by expat network Kea New Zealand found entrepreneurs such as Xero's Rod Drury and Orion Health's Ian McCrae were viewed as role models, but were exceptions to the rule.
Several expatriates interviewed also thought Kiwi businesspeople often failed to demonstrate their commitment to a project through moving to the market they wanted to access or obtain capital from.
Kea co-founder and chairman Sir Stephen Tindall said 90 per cent of what people thought was perception - not reality.
"But if the perception is wrong, we've got to change that."
The survey, which canvassed 500 mostly expat New Zealanders, found close to 15 per cent were strongly motivated to invest in local businesses, while 73 per cent said they would be willing to mentor or manage a small-to-medium enterprise in this country.
Tindall said the Kea research was a "call to action", especially since foreign direct investment in New Zealand had fallen by more than $30 billion since 2006.
He said that websites such as YouTube were also a great medium businesses could use to tell their story to the New Zealand diaspora.
The rise of local angel investment networks and venture capital firms was changing the investment situation, he added.
Kea said its research also found that expats generally thought New Zealand had a strong innovation base from which companies could emerge. This was viewed as the most positive aspect of the country's economic environment.
Kea chief executive Sue Watson said expats were great "brand ambassadors".
The research was jointly funded by the BNZ and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed), a council-controlled organisation.