Self-sustainability is new PBT chief Neru's mantra


Rob Neru is a confident business entrepreneur appointed to the helm of the Pacific Business Trust (PBT) last month. As the new Chief Executive, Mr Neru plans to turn a not-for-profit government agency into one that is self-funding. <!--more-->

[caption id="attachment_7110" align="alignleft" width="138"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-7110" src="" alt="Pacific Business Trust CEO Rob Neru." width="138" height="104" /></a> Pacific Business Trust CEO Rob Neru.[/caption]

It’s a major shift for PBT set up in 1985 to provide free business services and advice for Pacific businesses in New Zealand. Services will always be free he says but the introduction of paid services will contribute towards making PBT with offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch - self-sustaining.

This revitalisation means a new professional business identity, credibility in the market place, an organisation that is not just government dependent he says. It is a business model based on both free and paid services, vital towards becoming sustainable in the long term, Mr Neru says.

“We want to stand on our own two feet and start earning some money,” he adds.

Since he began work four weeks ago, Mr Neru says he is yet to hit the ground. “I’m still flying”. People in the business community have made numerous calls of support and enquiries have rolled in.

“Every day the phone rings from people giving their support. I’ve had more calls in the last few weeks and more opportunities.” They were waiting for someone with business nous to come along he says.

And it’s no surprise he is flying as the Trust prepares to introduce a range of initiatives aimed at revitalising the organisation and generating new income streams.

A new interactive website with facilities for paid advertising and optional extras will also be launched in a few weeks.

There is also a new free business directory in the pipeline to showcase Pacific businesses, linking them to thousands of other businesses. Listings would be free but added services or extras will be paid. The nationwide directory would also give more accurate data and provide a showcase of businesses with global exposure, Mr Neru says.

The Trust has its own extensive database but there is little research available on how many actual Pacific Island businesses actually exist. “We know a lot of clients but we have no idea how many Pacific Island businesses in the country.” The information would be valuable to those wanting access to Pacific island businesses and its communities.

Business mentoring is another initiative that will offer ongoing support for clients. Basic mentoring services will be free but those who are ready could move to a higher level for paid services. There is also room for corporate sponsorship but that could be further down the track.

And next year, a series of events - Pacific Business Expo in Auckland not restricted to Pacific businesses, is open to all. These Expo will provide the platform for companies and organisations to target the Pacific communities. In addition, Business Incubation Hubs is hoped to be available in the near future offering marketing, accounting and other business support but allowing for paid services at higher levels.

The new services are aimed at building a strong foundation for the future prosperity of Pacific Island people and any money made would be poured back into the Trust according to Mr Neru.

As a successful entrepreneur, he is attracted to the challenge of starting up new businesses “that’s why I took this job!” The 5 traits he lists for a successful entrepreneur are risk taking, passion, learning to fall, picking yourself up and never giving up – traits that are all part of his background.

Wellington born, he struggled with dyslexia and left school at 15. He then went on to become the youngest retail manager for electronics retailer Noel Leeming at the age of 16. He has owned and operated a lucrative domestic commercial air conditioning business; a multi-million dollar earth works and drainage operation and a business producing high performance sports and training software for clients in New Zealand, Australia, the USA and Asia. He was also a successful rugby player to representative level. Mr Neru lives in Wellington with his wife and family.

Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest Trade Development Manager Teremoana (Mona) Mato is a member on the PBT Board.

For more information email Trade Development Manager Mona Mato (