BMNZ History Graeme Craig

To Inspire Success - Our Origin Story

“It’s a culture of assistance,” says Dr Grahame Craig, Chairman of Board of Trustees, BMNZ, explaining that it’s a Kiwi characteristic that goes back to our country roots and smaller communities. “Farmers helped farmers. People helped each other to get support, to overcome isolation, to find solutions.”

Fast forward to the mid to late 1980s and the New Zealand landscape had changed dramatically. The vast majority of New Zealanders - 2.5 million – lived in the North Island, with nearly a quarter in Auckland. Economic reforms had freed up the market and removed many barriers to foreign investment. Kiwis from diverse backgrounds were taking up the opportunity to be in business.

In Hamilton, Dr Grahame Craig was then co-founder of Woolrest New Zealand with Bill Hall, which within four years from its inception, had reached a $45 million turnover, employed over 100 people and was exporting to five different countries around the world. Both founders had created considerable wealth and they wanted to give back.

In 1988 - 89, Bill Hall travelled and lived in the UK where he learned about various approaches to mentoring and was so enthused that he encouraged Grahame ‘to get on and start making this thing a reality.’

“Bill Hall had a strong sense of social responsibility,” explains Grahame. “He was keen to develop a way of supporting businesses – particularly new or struggling businesses – to make progress and shorten their learning curve.”

The pair set up a model for mentoring and with friend and colleague, Graeme Dingle began a year of testing the concept of mentoring by running business clinics in Turangi. Happy that they had refined their model for mentoring, they then began seeking out corporate funding.

“We drew up a hit list and went on a whistle-stop tour around many boardrooms,” says Grahame. “We were selling (the concept) to corporate executives. But we found out that we were talking to large institutions who were not attuned to small-medium business. Theirs was a ‘Think Big’ mentality and it was a lukewarm reception.”

There was also a problem with the word ‘mentoring’ which was not part of the jargon of the day.

Grahame and Bill had also listed Fletcher Challenge and at that time Sir James Fletcher was overseeing the Fletcher Trust. “We didn’t even finish the presentation,” reflected Grahame. “He was so enthusiastic and we walked out of there with a ready to run secretariat in Fletcher House, a seconded CEO, and the breakthrough we so desperately needed.”

Sir James Fletcher became a champion of the cause. He opened other doors with corporates to the point where BMNZ was completely corporate-funded for the first ten years.

With 28 years now behind them, Business Mentors New Zealand is definitely looking to do some new, innovative things in the future including solutions to making mentoring available to more people. “A major problem is that we’re not scalable given we’re a voluntary service. Our costs grow too and although we have around 2000 mentors, we are limited with the time they can give,” notes Grahame.

“There is so much ahead of us. Bill Hall had the vision but died early while in the UK after our public launch. But his expertise and way of doing business has been kept alive, adds Grahame.”

Sir James Fletcher kept the torch alight. Business mentoring was his favourite project until he died at 91 years old. Both Bill and Sir James had two qualities in common – they had both amazing business acumen and humility. A common touch.

“That culture of assistance has stayed with us to today. And I hope we never lose it,” concludes Dr Grahame Craig.

Reports


Annual Report

2018

Business Mentors New Zealand believe in transparency. Review our annual reports and publications, which go into detail about how we’re performing, the results we're getting across our network of mentors and clients, and the initiatives we’re taking throughout each year.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Performance Report

2017

Business Mentors New Zealand believe in transparency. Review our annual reports and publications, which go into detail about how we’re performing, the results we're getting across our network of mentors and clients, and the initiatives we’re taking throughout each year.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Financial Statements

2016
Business Mentors New Zealand believe in transparency. Review our annual reports and publications, which go into detail about how we’re performing, the results we're getting across our network of mentors and clients, and the initiatives we’re taking throughout each year.
 
DOWNLOAD NOW
 

Financial Statements

2015

Business Mentors New Zealand believe in transparency. Review our annual reports and publications, which go into detail about how we’re performing, the results we're getting across our network of mentors and clients, and the initiatives we’re taking throughout each year.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Annual Report

2014

Business Mentors New Zealand believe in transparency. Review our annual reports and publications, which go into detail about how we’re performing, the results we're getting across our network of mentors and clients, and the initiatives we’re taking throughout each year.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Annual Report

2013

Business Mentors New Zealand believe in transparency. Review our annual reports and publications, which go into detail about how we’re performing, the results we're getting across our network of mentors and clients, and the initiatives we’re taking throughout each year.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Blog Feed


AUIP learns Business Mentor is one of the best things about NZ

When the pandemic hit, business changed a lot, but having a Business Mentor made a world of difference for Mary Ogburn and AUIP’s Management Team.

Mary came to New Zealand from Boston five years ago to serve as the International Programs and Development Director at AUIP – American Universities International Programs Limited. AUIP is based in Christchurch and provides short-term study tours for US ...

Read More

Measure your mentoring progress to get the most from your journey

Business mentoring is a journey that takes you from a starting point towards an ultimate goal. Measuring your progress helps ensure you're moving in the right direction. Many businesses with a Mentor say external accountability is one of the most valuable benefits of mentoring. Below are some ideas for measuring your progress with mentoring. They'll help you get the most from your relationship and...

Read More

They all scream for ice cream

Business has been good for Wanaka based PURE NZ Ice Cream owners, Brian Thomas and Anna Howard.

Both are experienced in food, hospitality and tourism so buying the award-winning, artisan ice cream business in 2018 was an opportunity too good to miss.

Brian said that with a growing demand for pure and unadulterated foods the potential of the unique offering of genuinely PURE ice cream, gelato and s...

Read More

Get the answers you're looking for now.

CHECK OUT OUR FAQS