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Nov 13, 2017

Coastal kids show superior business skills in practical environment

When the winners of the Rangitahi Business Award were announced at the Taranaki Young Enterprise Scheme awards night, Anna Davis had good reason to smile.

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She owns Office Furniture First and has sponsored this award for a number of years.

"I first learned about it through the New Plymouth Girls' High School some years ago and I thought that as a Maori business owner this was something I could and should be involved with."

Yes is designed for Years 12 and 13 secondary school students and through it the students get the opportunity to set up and run their own business for a year.

​This year the winning team came from Coastal Taranaki School and their business venture involved running the school canteen. This involved all the practical aspects of running a food business,  calculating and buying ingredients, food safety, handling money and banking, portion control - everything that needed to be considered.

To be considered for the award 50 per cent of the team had to be Maori. 

"I like the idea of kids learning about business and seeing if it is for them," says Davis. "When I started at Office Furniture First I didn't know just what was involved and how much I didn't know.

"It's quite lonely going into business. These students have been given the opportunity to practise in a safe environment.

"They get to find out what works and what the challenges are, without the pitfalls of the outside world.

"I remember when I started I thought all I had to do was work hard, work hard, work hard and one day I'd be there. But it doesn't work like that. 

"I remember reading a quote in a magazine that has stuck with me ever since. It read:'Business is infinitely rewarding but is never comfortable. If you need comfort you need to quit.'

"That woke me up. I realised I was never going to reach the peak."

Davis has also been  involved in He taronga pakihi ki Taranaki, a Maori business networking group. As more Treaty claims are settled, groups like these will continue to flourish, providing valuable help and sharing business experience.

Davis says she is constantly working on her business. Her team is the backbone of the day-to-day running of the business,  while she  works on ways to grow the business. 

Article by Kath Brown, Stuff