PRESS RELEASE by The Pacific Business Hub - Monday 24 Feb, 2020
Manukau, AKL - The location is perfect. It’s smack in the heart of bustling Manukau City, close to the mall but on a parking-friendly side street. The bold signage is unmissable. Its huge lettering, sprawled across a glass-encased shopfront, welcomes you into The Pacific Business Hub.
Last Friday 21 February, The Pacific Business Hub was officially launched! The event also marked a milestone for the establishment as it celebrates its 1-year anniversary since opening its doors.
For founder, Laura Keil-Hall, the Hub is the fulfillment of “a passion and a dream”. It started with a bit of inspiration from her years as a Bank of New Zealand business manager.
The concept of The Pacific Business Hub is based on the existing model of co-working and shared office space. A base for small and new start-up businesses to collaborate resources and share space.
Laura remembers: “The first time I walked into [BNZ’s] Highbrook Partner Centre, I immediately said to myself, ‘I would like to one day offer a space like this for…the Pacific.’”
Laura envisioned a professional yet nurturing hub for Pacific entrepreneurs, an affordable place for startups and small businesses to set up office, meet with clients, get creative, collaborate and be inspired by other ambitious like-minded thinkers.
The difference is, the Hub is not your average traditional shared office co-working space. In its core essence it incorporates Pacific cultural values and strengths in how it operates.
What Laura’s achieved so far is certainly appealing. Through the main doors, a lovely fragrance beckons you into a tastefully furnished foyer bordered by a trio of meeting rooms.
A large reception desk acts as a gatekeeper for the rest of the space, and on the wall above it is a gallant declaration of the Hub’s mission to, “Enable, Empower and Enrich”.
Laura elaborates that the Hub itself is an enabling space where they provide practical business solutions to help and support businesses that are owned and operated by Pacific peoples. One of the solutions is providing affordable office space.
“You don’t have to worry about overheads [here],” Laura says. “You don’t have to worry about paying a separate bill for your Wi-Fi, a separate bill for the power, a separate bill for cleaning… you’ve got all of that included in that [tenancy] package. The office packages vary and are tailored to the needs and budget of the business so basically we try and make things work.”
Laura believes that by providing solutions enables people and when you enable people, you also empower them. “When people feel empowered they gain the confidence to pursue whatever aspirations they may have. The end goal we want from being enabled and feeling empowered, is enriching our lives, not just ours but everyone else around us.”
She also brings her vast network of connections to the Hub, as well as a wealth of corporate and financial experience. But Laura also knows – firsthand – the struggles of building your own business from scratch. For her, the entrepreneurial life comes with its own set of challenges and learnings.
Just over 12 months ago, her first major task in setting up the Hub was to find a space for it. “I got to go out and have a look at properties and understand how that system works and how agents work and what’s involved, and when I finally found the place…I got scared,” she says. “The commitment and the responsibility was huge.”
But after she passed on the building, she couldn’t get it out of her mind. “I prayed a lot… and the actual building kept popping up in my head. I literally couldn’t get to sleep thinking about it.” She had a chat with her husband, reviewed all her research, was prompted to calculate the figures again and eventually concluded that the Hub really is a viable business opportunity. “It was a no-brainer. So I said, Okay. I’m going to do this.”
As she continues to pray, asking God for help and support, she felt like her focus sharpened and, “everything kinda fell into place.”
Laura has since thrown her heart, determination and personal finances into this venture, she’s always the first to acknowledge the encouragement of her family and close friends and colleagues.
“I have a really good support system…through my brothers and sisters, the Samoa Business Network, the women of PACIFICA where I am a part of the Exec for the Manukau branch as well as the businesses themselves that are based at the Hub. But my biggest and most loyal supporters are my husband and my kids. I am so grateful to them for enabling my dreams and my aspirations because it certainly hasn’t been easy.” Laura continues “above all else, it has been my strong faith and belief in God that has enabled me to take the leap and continue persevering and I honour and glorify HIM by doing this work.”
The Pacific Business Hub is now fully outfitted and beautifully furnished. Its website and social media have grown rapidly. The Hub in its short 12 months of operations has had successful business activity under its belt with interest in tenancy continuing to increase.
The entrepreneurs who’ve moved into the Hub – usually from their kitchen tables or garages – have also gained a proper commercial business address as well as a clean, professional work environment that’s free from the many distractions of home.
Kristy Morgan, of Cook Island descend and one of the businesses based at the Hub says “When I first saw this place, I instantly fell in love with the décor and set up. It felt very Pacific and professional at the same time, a perfect blend of the two worlds.”
Kristy shares that the environment at the hub is supportive, where everyone celebrates each other’s successes and pushes each other to reach their own goals and aspiration. This is a change from the corporate environment in her line of work, where it can get competitive. “The Pacific Business Hub is empowering and uplifting. People genuinely want to see you succeed and that’s the best kind of place to start your business”, says Kristy.
Niuean Emani Lui of MakaNet shares, “Our customers have grown since we linked up with the hub, most of them have come to us through our networks here.”
The ISP entrepreneur shares that the hub enables collaboration, sharing, mentoring and networking amongst pacific businesses and entrepreneurs.
“Working with them every day, side by side inspires me and my team. We all share the same vision for our pacific people and strive towards creating opportunities for them and our communities.”
But it’s not just the on-going tenants who are benefitting from this space. The breakout area’s modular furniture can easily be reconfigured into temporary retail stalls.
In fact, the Hub has already hosted several Pacific themed Pop-Up stores, most notably providing a last-minute outlet for vendors who were stranded by the cancellation of 2019's Pasifika festival.
Soon, Laura will be offering individually tailored business mentoring for patrons of the Hub under her consultancy business LKH Consulting. How this service will work is, let’s say someone comes in with an idea for a new venture. “I will sit down and have a quality conversation with them…” Laura explains, “It’s basically just understanding their needs then putting some plans in place to make it happen, and I will open up my networks and connections to actually be able to do that. I will also be checking in on a regular basis to make sure that they are on the right track.” There will be a range of other services that will be provided under this new service, i.e. personal budgeting, pathways to home ownership etc.
Looking at the Hub’s 1 year in review; they currently house 18 businesses, hosted 3 successful pop up markets supporting 20+ businesses, delivered 8 pop up shops that enabled individual businesses to have a shop front, hosted 2 large visiting groups of 40+ officials from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment as well as 30+ students from New York University Stern Business School earlier this year. Hosted a number of business networking events & community events, launched a number of businesses, have done a multitude of business consultations and hub tours and to top it off to mark its exact 1 year anniversary on 1 February, it launched a new initiative called ‘The Pacific Business Journal’, a platform dedicated to telling the stories of Pacific peoples in business.
1 Year Review in Photos
The official launch was also a tribute and a celebration of the Hub’s patrons as much as it was for the Hub. Laura acknowledges all of them for believing in the vision and the desire to work together and collaboratively to support one another to reach a common goal of supporting our wider Pacific community. The event was attended by stakeholders, clients of the businesses at the Hub, family and friends.
The Honorable Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito Su’a William Sio was also in attendance and posted on his Facebook Page saying “Members of the Pacific Hub represent a fast growing number of Pacific peoples of Aotearoa who are leading in innovation and exploring new income-generating pathways. When Pacific peoples succeed, thrive and prosper we are also contributing to enriching Aotearoa New Zealand.”
On the night, he acknowledged Laura’s hard work with the community and her drive to see Pacific peoples succeed in business. He says she is firm but loving.
Businesses and organisations based at the Hub;
Elemai Therapeutic Clinic, Bluwave Galumoana, AP Civil Construction/Workforce Connect, MakaNet, JV Life, Pacific40 Ltd, Kristy Morgan Barrister, Timaloa Law, Bluespur Consulting, PolyX NZ, AGNIU Accounting, Talanoa Media, APS58 Productions, Le-Ata, Staavias, Wulf Publishing, Samoa Business Network, Good Samaritan Church.
Special mention of the Pacific businesses that put together the launch event; Marie & Pauline Decorators Ltd, Bloomed NZ, L&T Elegant Prop Hire, Up Café, MBrace Dance Group and Tui Eddie Taualapini & band.
PRESS RELEASE ENDS.
More photos of the Launch!