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


Value of mentoring Māori in business is increasing

This blog has been written for Business Mentors New Zealand by Amokura Panoho. Amokura is a Māori business leader and facilitator of our Māori Business World View Workshops. Business Mentors New Zealand recognises the importance of better understanding and contributing to the Māori economy. It’s recently explained why this is so critical and nuanced for Mentors. Māori entrepreneurs with a strong al...

Read More

Celebrating te reo Māori: A good first step on your journey to more inclusive business

Even if you're not a Māori-led business, you can still do a lot to make your business more culturally inclusive. Wherever you begin, being genuine, curious, and respectful is key. If you’re ready to learn and to persevere in your journey, you’ll be set to reap the benefits of better relationships, self-awareness and understanding.

Like any journey, your starting point matters when it comes to lift...

Read More

Sustainability is a path to survive and thrive

Right now, we’re confronted by how much the health of the world affects us. Whether it’s the planets limits or pandemic’s reach, we’re truly interconnected. Our businesses are an important link between individuals, communities and our shared future. This presents business owners with a responsibility and an opportunity around sustainability.

If we’re ready to step up, sustainable business offers t...

Read More

Get the answers you're looking for now.

CHECK OUT OUR FAQS