New Zealand

Number of Business Networks: 8
Number of Private Sector Initiatives: 4
Number of Government Services: 9
Labor Force Participation Rate: 


Viewed as one of the world’s strongest examples of economic freedom and free-market opportunity, New Zealand has become one of the world’s most entrepreneurial and business-friendly economies. More...

Viewed as one of the world’s strongest examples of economic freedom and free-market opportunity, New Zealand has become one of the world’s most entrepreneurial and business-friendly economies. Following Asia’s economic crisis of the late 1990s, New Zealand’s GDP growth recovered strongly. Its annual GDP growth from 2001 through to 2004, on average, exceeded that of its major trading partners, partly as a result of strong net inward migration and population growth. Compared to its peer economies in the OECD, New Zealand weathered the global recession that began in 2008 with relative success. Over the past generation, New Zealand has transformed from an agrarian-oriented economy to one that is more industrialized and engaged in technological advances.

New Zealand’s economic advantages include a highly educated, flexible, and multi-skilled workforce; competitive property costs; unencumbered free movement of capital; and one of the lowest average tariff rates in the world. As evidenced by the economy’s strong showing in the annual World Economic Global Gender Gap Report, which measures gender gaps in access to resources and opportunities, women in New Zealand are generally able to take advantage of these conditions and participate in the private sector and in public life. According to the latest data available (2005 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor), just over one-third of entrepreneurs in New Zealand are women. Maori women, in particular, are highly entrepreneurial, ranking in the top three to four of all surveyed economies.

Still, while under the law there is no gender discrimination, gender barriers remain in New Zealand’s labor markets. While 73 percent of women aged 15-64 are working, just 20 percent of senior managers are women. According to 2014 figures from the New Zealand Stock Exchange, women comprise 12 percent of directors and 19 percent of officers of all listed companies. These disparities persist even though women’s participation in higher education now outweighs that of men 59 percent of all tertiary education graduates in 2009 were women.

As in other economies, the stereotype of women in the home and men in the workplace is slowly disappearing from the tapestry of New Zealand’s culture and economy. The number of women who are main or sole breadwinners is increasing. Women are less likely to be partnered in New Zealand and are more likely to do paid work to support themselves and their children. Given these changes, the economy’s government regulations are adapting and providing flexible work arrangements from the first day of employment.  A new law increases paid parental leave from 14 weeks to 18 weeks by 2016 for women who qualify.

One champion of women’s role in the economy is the Ministry for Women, which has aligned its promotion of women’s economic empowerment with the government’s agenda for business growth. The New Zealand government is taking steps to reduce segregation of trades and occupations by gender, particularly through collaboration with the road transport industry and with the reconstruction industry following the Canterbury earthquakes, and through initiatives relating to women’s education and training in trades. Women are increasingly becoming members of Parliament, and the first female prime minister took office in 1997. The 38 women elected to Parliament in 2014 comprise 31 percent of the 51st New Zealand Parliament, which is in stark contrast to representation of 5 percent during the 1980s.

As detailed in this chapter, New Zealand offers some best practices for the development of female entrepreneurs, in particular through inclusive business networks that affect women, government services that cater to a broad female demographic, and private-sector initiatives aiming specifically to serve women. 

In addition to on-the-ground business networks, New Zealand has numerous online networks that support women entrepreneurs. These networks use social media tools, such as Facebook and, and are sustained by groups who share either geographical proximity or specific entrepreneurial experiences, interests, or needs in areas such as technology and business education. 

Networks that support women’s access to capital and assets: 

ArcAngels is a member-based angel investment organization that focuses on building investor knowledge and on investing in early-stage businesses that are led or managed by women in New Zealand. ArcAngels focuses on for-profit organizations with a female founder or leader...more

Networks that support women’s access to markets: 

No information available. Contact us if you know of a network that fits this criteria.

Networks that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business: 

A networking group based on meet ups, Mind over Matter is open to all female business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals. The network facilitates a relaxed and professional environment and equips women with a toolkit of resources to help them start or expand their...more

The Business School at the University of Auckland set up its mentoring program in response to student demand and the school’s desire to nurture women as business leaders. Students are matched with a mentor from the school’s vast network of graduates and other...more

Facilitated over the social network “meet-up,” the Women’s Business Support Network brings together women who are currently business owners or potential entrepreneurs. The group provides support services to entrepreneurs, including networking opportunities, business...more

Networks that support women’s leadership, voice and agency: 

Formed in 1987 by business women who felt that there organizations for women in business were lacking.  AEC focuses on senior managers, business owners, and specialists. The group encourages each other in their business endeavors and provides access to dynamic speakers....more

Established in 2009, GW is committed to supporting and encouraging women who are making exceptional contributions to New Zealand’s economy. It aims to create a pipeline of women from entry-level to the top levels, to bring gender equity to all levels of business. ...more

Formed in 2009, the network now involves over 1,000 women at all levels of the corporate and creative worlds and a very large number of women who run their own businesses. The network provides access to experts who are willing to “cross-pollinate, inspire and forge...more

Networks that support women and innovation and technology: 

Inspired by the Women in Tech session at the event “Gather Conference 2014,” this network meets monthly to discuss an array of issues facing women in the tech industry and to provide a supportive network. Men are welcome to attend...more

While New Zealand’s entrepreneurial environment continues to flourish as a whole, public sector initiatives that cater to women are still nascent. The new focus on women in the economy and in labor policy is indicative of a climate that will likely catalyze the growth of woman-owned businesses, services for women entrepreneurs, and the number of women in management.  

Initiatives that support women’s access to capital and assets: 

No information available. Contact us if you know of a network that fits this criteria.

Initiatives that support women’s access to markets: 

Originally developed and funded by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Employment, this service is now implemented by Callaghan Innovation.  This service connects entrepreneurs with national and international experts to help them evaluate new ideas, technologies, and...more

Initiatives that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business: 

The members of Co.OfWomen are female business owners in a number of industries dedicated to connecting and championing their peers. The organization’s programs include the following:

Initiatives that support women’s leadership, voice and agency: 

Ernst & Young (EY) has led two-day leadership development programs for women internationally since 2008, and Ernst & Young New Zealand is a part of this tradition. The EY program selects a group of up to 20 high-potential female entrepreneurs is selected for...more

In 2012, the New Zealand Stock Exchange implemented a Diversity Listing Rule that requires listed issuers to provide a breakdown in their annual and quarterly reports of the gender composition of their Directors and Officers.  These statistics are published quarterly and...more

Initiatives that support women and innovation and technology: 

No information available. Contact us if you know of a network that fits this criteria.

The government of New Zealand has embarked on a substantial number of initiatives in recent years to provide women, particularly entrepreneurs, with the support and access to capital, assets, and markets necessary for them succeed and contribute to the economy’s growth. This has been particularly apparent through the Ministry for Women and programs championed by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. 

Services that support women’s access to capital and assets: 

The Incubator Support Program accelerates the growth and success of New Zealand start-ups by providing a range of services and funding. Callaghan Innovation supports two types of incubators. Founder-focused incubators give entrepreneurs access to “support, networks and...more

The Better by Capital program is designed to assist businesses in accessing capital for international growth. Better by Capital offers training in understanding capital, developing a plan to access capital, and accessing investor networks. NZTE’s capital specialists are...more

Services that support women’s access to markets: 

NZECO is the official export credit agency. It is located in the Treasury and obligations to third parties are guaranteed by the New Zealand government through the Minister of Finance. NZECO sells a range of New Zealand government backed trade credit insurances and...more

Services that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business: 

The government’s business research and development funding programs are managed by Callaghan Innovation. The Better by Lean program helps businesses improve performance, eliminate inefficient processes...more

NZTE is New Zealand's international business development agency. Its role is to help New Zealand businesses “grow bigger, better and faster” in international markets. NZTE’s provides “Capability Development Vouchers,” which are used to subsidize a maximum of NZD5,000 (US...more

Services that support women’s leadership, voice and agency: 

This NZTE program connects participating businesses to a network of private sector advisors in New Zealand and around the world.  In addition, businesses can access resources and provide insight into growing internationally...more

Better by Strategy is a NZTE program that consists of three one-day workshops that provide the assistance to help local businesses develop improved business strategies. The program has helped more than 200 New Zealand companies and...more

Services that support women and innovation and technology: 

Callaghan, a crown entity set up to accelerate the commercialization of innovation in New Zealand, administers more than NZD140 million (US$99 million) a year in business research and development (R&D) funding through three programs: (1)...more

PGP, a joint venture of government and industry, invests in long-term innovation programs to increase the market success of primary industries. Investments can cover the whole value chain. The minimum amount that the PGP will co-invest, and which must be matched by...more