Old heads wanted to mentor local businesses

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Wise, old business heads in the Ashburton Rotary Club are being encouraged to become mentors for Mid Canterbury businesses struggling to survive Covid-19.

Club member and Ashburton District Council economic development officer Bevan Rickerby said there was a wide variety of expertise and experience in the club that could help others.

“I suggested to members they may want to use their experience for a business within the district that needed a sympathetic ear. Mentoring is all about sometimes just listening and getting the business owner back on track, especially in these current trying times.”

Mr Rickerby said two members had already expressed interest in being mentors.

“As yet, we have not heard from any who require this style of help but would suggest that as our Prime Minister has talked about the team of five million, well now is the time when our team of experienced business people can help our Mid Canterbury team.”

The idea of mentoring was also raised at the first meeting of council’s economic recovery advisory group.

Mr Rickerby said any help in the Covid-19 recovery period would be useful.

“I would suggest that businesses use their own advisors first off, however there are other options if they wish to use them. The reality is that in these particularly tough times all or any help I am sure will be appreciated by Mid Canterbury businesses.”

Mayor Neil Brown said the first meeting of the Covid-19 recovery response group had been positive and the sector representatives all keen to assist as needs were identified.

The group was to meet again this week.

Last week members heard that there was talk in the local retail sector of businesses reducing staff and working hours. Some tourism operators were relying on more relief from government.

The building industry reported some jobs had been put off by customers worried about losing their jobs, though overall the industry did not seem to have been hit too hard locally.

A shortage of staff was reported by one vegetable processor, though there was a question over how to get unemployed Kiwis to the district to fill them.

The Canterbury Chamber of Commerce has also offered resources to local businesses and has been contracted by the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and MBIE to run a helpline for 12 months. Business owners needing support can call 0800 505096.

It can also connect locals to Business Mentors New Zealand, a government-funded group, via www.businessmentors.org.nz.