Connecting and building businesses

Watch a video about our Connecting the Regions visit to Dunedin.

Around 97 per cent of businesses in New Zealand employ fewer than 20 people and many of these small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are run by ethnic people. Their many connections and overseas experiences provide a huge amount of potential.

However there are also challenges and many ethnic business people find it difficult to understand the business culture and regulations within New Zealand. Many also have under-developed connections to the wider business community.

Our Small and Medium sized Enterprise (SME) project has been created to address these issues and involves a number of initiatives.

Small and Medium sized Enterprise project

This project is aimed at helping small and medium sized enterprises to:

  • improve their connections with ethnic and mainstream businesses
  • gain improved pathways to overseas markets by drawing upon the local and off-shore connections of ethnic SMEs in New Zealand.

The Ethnic People in Commerce in New Zealand project, started in 2010, focuses on creating international business connections through our existing local diversity. This booklet (1.91mb PDF)  or provides small-medium businesses with a snap shot of the tools available from Office of Ethnic Affairs to help them, and some examples of businesses that are making the most of cultural diversity to help their business grow.

There are four components:

The Ethnic People in Commerce - EPIC NZ - website

EPIC NZ Website Banner

The website is home to a free business matching database designed to connect ethnic businesses with those in the wider community in order to improve trade opportunities here and overseas.

The site helps match ethnic people, who have contacts and know-how from working in their home communities, with Kiwi businesses looking to expand their markets.

People with global experience who share their knowledge of local customs, language and contacts can offer real value to New Zealand-based businesses looking to trade overseas. In return, ethnic business people can benefit from new connections and opportunities.

Registering on the database is free and easy. Visit and click on the Register Now button.

By registering you can find specific skills, experience and market opportunities.

EPIC NZ conference

Each year we hold a business-focused conference which aims to build connections within the small and medium sized enterprise sector. Our events page has more details.

Connecting the Regions’ visits

These visits are held in regions of New Zealand with strong growth potential and aim to connect ethnic business people with markets outside their immediate community.

In 2013 visits were arranged to Hawkes bay and Dunedin.

Watch a video about the Dunedin visit.

In 2011-2012 visits were arranged to Nelson and the Bay of Plenty.


Find out more at this webpage

Knowledge workshops

These workshops focus on helping ethnic business people start and run their businesses in New Zealand. They provide advice on setting up a business, information on trading and exporting, developing business infrastructure (such as IT systems) and connecting with non-migrant business communities.

The Office of Ethnic Affairs holds these workshops in partnership with Inland Revenue, Immigration and Labour at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and private sector institutions.

More details about these workshops