Hawke's Bay's business community is helping boost employment in the Bay through a region-wide mentoring scheme.

About 40 experienced business professionals are signed up to Business Mentors NZ's mentoring programme in Hawke's Bay but mentor manager Leonie Wallwork said the varied nature of the region's industry meant the programme was always on the look out for experienced business people to join up both as business mentors and as community mentors (not-for-profit sector).

"We have more than 40 currently active mentors located in Napier, Hastings, Havelock North and Central Hawke's Bay. We also provide support up as far as Wairoa.

"We are seeking more businesses and community organisations to engage with the Business and Community Mentoring programmes including start-ups and social enterprises."


Mentor John Hutchinson said he first started as a mentor six years ago, as a way of giving back to the community.

"Some businesses are in start-up mode, so they want to know what to they do, is their idea relevant and how do they market it. Other businesses are already up and running and they want to know what they can do better.

"It's really good to see the progress businesses make. To me it's around the key fundamentals about business and if you don't know what they are you can fall into a trap."

Coast and Co design direct Jason Juno said the company joined the scheme two years ago, to help set up a graphic design company.

"We joined mentors because as graphic designers, we are really good at what we do and wanted to start our own design study but had no idea about business per se. So it was a valuable resource for us to utilise.

"We've gone from the start-up phase with just one person, to two FTEs and tripling our turnover.

"We're getting to that time now where we are looking to take on an extra FTE and move into a new commercial space."

Hawke's Bay in a Box director Jane Potter said she and her business partner, Sandy Taylor said having a mentor had given them both the confidence to launch their idea of selling gift boxes.

"We had this idea back in February, and wondered if we should do it, so we were like to sparrows sat on the edge of a building wondering if we should jump."

The mentor scheme had also helped the pair set up a website and showed them how to apply for liquor licences and how to follow council processes.

Mentor Wendy Taylor said she joined the programme just six months ago and was mentoring her first business since retiring from being an industry trainer.

"I was a little bit shaken by retiring, so I think I've been very lucky with Jane and Sandy. They knew what they wanted to do, it was really a case of pulling things together, and getting technical things done."