Thai innovators to build connections with New Zealand tech scene

Four of Thailand’s top entrepreneurs will compare notes on tech developments with New Zealand counterparts on an Asia New Zealand Foundation visit.

The group visiting the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok. From left to right is Andrea Beadle, Second Secretary, New Zealand Embassy; Kridsada Chutinaton; His Excellency Ben King, New Zealand’s Ambassador to Thailand; Kittichai Phiphatbunyarat (Jeng); Phornt

The group will visit New Zealand from 9 to 17 November as part of the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative (YBLI), managed by the Foundation for New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. They will meet with companies such as Xero and Vend, learn about the tech ecosystem in Auckland and Christchurch, and attend leading tech event, SingularityU.

The four participants will also reconnect with the “Kiwi YBLIs” – five New Zealand tech entrepreneurs who travelled to Thailand in 2015 – and members of the Asia New Zealand Foundation Leadership Network. 

The participants are:

  • Kittichai Phiphatbunyarat (Jeng), CEO and co-founder of telco start-up Pinion
  • Kridsada Chutinaton, CEO and co-founder of FlowAccount, Thailand’s number-one cloud accounting solution
  • Phornthepsingh Thakral (Puneet), head of innovation and chief operating officer for Hubba, a co-working space for entrepreneurs and innovators
  • Tareef Jafferi, founder and CEO, of people², a workplace messaging tool

ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative project manager Adam McConnochie says the participants will learn more about the tech sector in New Zealand by meeting their counterparts.

“The Foundation took a group of Kiwi tech entrepreneurs to Thailand in 2015, so it’s great to reciprocate this year and take advantage of the strong connections formed at that time.

“This visit provides New Zealand businesspeople with the chance to interact with an impressive group of entrepreneurs who have considerable international experience. For example, Tareef Jafferi has lectured on entrepreneurship at MIT – and all have lived and worked in other countries, including India, Singapore and the United States.

"Their visit will really consolidate these connections and better connect New Zealand to the fast-growing Southeast Asia tech scene.”

Thailand is New Zealand’s 10th largest trading partner, with two-way trade at $2.6 billion. While the goods trade dominates, trade in some services sectors – particularly education, health, security and IT – is growing. Thailand is New Zealand’s largest source of overseas students from Southeast Asia, and 117,000 New Zealanders visit Thailand annually.

New Zealand has a free trade agreement with Thailand, the Closer Economic Partnership (CEP), as well as with the wider region through the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA).

Running since 2012, the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative has brought more than 60 dynamic entrepreneurs and business leaders from Southeast Asia to New Zealand, building business connections and facilitating trade links. In 2015, the initiative became reciprocal and the Foundation has since taken 16 New Zealand entrepreneurs to the region.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation with a range of programmes designed to equip New Zealanders with first-hand experience of Asia and to forge valuable links to the region. Founded in 1994, the Foundation works in five main areas - business, arts and culture, education, media and research. It also runs a Leadership Network and takes a lead role in track II (informal diplomacy) bilateral and multilateral dialogues in the Asia-Pacific region.