An initiative to provide rural business support has drawn
little response in Otago and Southland, but there are plans
to reach out to farming leaders who could provide assistance
as rural mentors.
Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) launched the initiative
in October last year, in response to high rural suicide and
stress rates, as well as other factors such as the droughts
of the 2012-13 summer.
So far, two rural businesses had requested support in
Southland and one in Otago.
BMNZ Southland agent Scott Whyte said reasons for low uptake
likely included better conditions in Southland during the
drought period than elsewhere in New Zealand, and a
reluctance to ask for help.
However, the programme was a good chance to try to find more
experienced farmers who could act as business mentors, he
''If there are any experienced farmers looking to put back
into the industry it would be great to hear from them if they
want to support young guys coming through or impart their
Otago Southland Employers Association operations and business
development manager and BMNZ Otago agent John Rigby said he
thought people were hesitant to ask for help from a
mentorship point of view as ''generally, farmers just get on
with the job''.
Ideas for improving the programme and reaching out to those
in need of support would possibly include creating more
exposure, or channelling the programme through a body such as
Federated Farmers, Mr Rigby said.
BMNZ national agency manager Lisa Ford said BMNZ was trying
to make people realise asking for help was not a sign of
weakness, just an indication of someone trying to grow a
Mrs Ford said she was not surprised by the low numbers
experienced, but the initiative would continue to be
available for the next few months.
Supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and
Employment, the initiative waived the $150 Business Mentors
registration fee for businesses where a medium-scale drought
was declared, with the intention of reducing any barriers for
businesses considering requesting assistance.
- by Leith Huffadine