Summit to build business connections in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia’s youthful and growing population will drive much of the world’s innovation in the years ahead, and New Zealand business leaders would be remiss not to keep their finger on the region's pulse for the latest developments. This month a group of Kiwi entrepreneurs will do just that when they visit Thailand to learn about the region’s fast-paced innovation and make industry connections at a summit organised by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Ten New Zealand entrepreneurs will travel to Thailand to explore business opportunities and build networks with 60 Southeast Asian counterparts at the Young Business Leaders Summit in Thailand from 24 to 28 May. The Southeast Asian participants are among some of the most impressive entrepreneurs in the region and represent a wide range of industries from all 10 ASEAN nations.  
The Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono has organised the summit as part of the Young Business Leaders Initiative (YBLI), which facilitates trade and builds connections between business leaders and entrepreneurs in New Zealand and ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations). The Foundation has been delivering the programme for the New Zealand Government since 2012.  
By the end of 2022, the programme had brought 112 business leaders and entrepreneurs from ASEAN to New Zealand on short, sector-specific programmes and 51 business leaders and entrepreneurs from New Zealand have travelled to Southeast Asia.   
Asia New Zealand Foundation director business Nick Siu says that after more than two years of pandemic-related disruptions, it’s critical for New Zealand entrepreneurs to start reconnecting with counterparts in the region and getting a sense of the developments taking place.

 “Southeast Asia is a vibrant region with lots of opportunity, and the pandemic has sped up many of the trends that were already taking place. Because this summit brings together entrepreneurs and business leaders from 10 Southeast Asian countries, it is a really effective way for New Zealand entrepreneurs to better understand the scale of what is taking place in the region – whether that be in cashless technology, food innovation, biotechnology, manufacturing or retail.

“Another key benefit is that participants can develop and sustain relationships with entrepreneurs across the region, so they can work together to identify opportunities and address challenges.” 
The entrepreneurs will hear from top business speakers from across Southeast Asia and participate in industry-sector breakout sessions.  The New Zealand participants are:

  • Nicholas Carey, managing director at Green Meadows Beef, which produces a range of meat products and exports to Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. 
  • Tim Harper, CEO and co-founder of Glorious, a creative studio and NFT (non-fungible token) marketplace.
  • Brandon Hutcheson, CEO of Aware Group, which is focused on the ethical and sustainable use of emerging technology.
  • India Korner, co-founder of Method Recycling, which produces recycling bins for modern workplaces.
  • Jason Leong, CEO and co-founder of fintech company PocketSmith.
  • Latesha (Tesh) Randall, co-founder and head of impact at Raglan Food Co, which produces plant-based products  .
  • Brooke Roberts, co-founder, co-CEO and director at investment platform Sharesies.
  • Veronica Stevenson, CEO and founder of biomaterials start-up Humble Bee Bio.
  • Nathan Taylor, co-founder and COO of Partly, which provides digital cataloguing infrastructure for the automotive parts industry.
  •  Tama Toki, CEO and founder of Aotea, which produces skincare inspired by rongoā māori, and deals in renewable energy technology.  

ASEAN is home to nearly 654 million people and an important partner for New Zealand, through government, economic and people-to-people ties.  
New Zealand has a free trade agreement with ASEAN through AANZFTA, with an upgrade announced in 2022. In 2021 alone, New Zealand exported over NZ$7 billion of goods and services to ASEAN, making the bloc our third largest trading partner with almost $20 billion of two-way trade.  
As New Zealand’s trade ties to Southeast Asia continue to grow, participants in the Young Business Leaders Initiative act as an important resource for New Zealanders doing business in the region and provide valuable insights into ASEAN markets.   
Green Meadows Beef co-founder Nick Carey has previously described how his trip to Singapore and Malaysia through the Young Business Leaders Initiative in 2017 grew the business. “That was the enabler for us to commence our export business and make our connections to Singapore.” 
An independent review in 2020 found the programme was helping to “forge enduring, two-way trade and business relations between young business leaders and business communities in ASEAN and New Zealand”.  It found 87 percent of participants gained new sector knowledge from participating in the programme. 
It also found the programme was contributing to the growth of indigenous businesses both in New Zealand and Southeast Asia, through supporting the transfer of ideas and technology.    
Established in 1994, the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s activities cover more than 20 countries in Asia and are delivered through a range of core programmes: arts, business, education, entrepreneurship, leadership, media, research, Track II diplomacy and sports. The Foundation is guided by its board of trustees and is supported by a network of Honorary Advisers in New Zealand and Asia.
For more information, contact:   
Katie Howe  
Director Communications and Media     
Telephone: 64 4 470 8701