Sarah Colcord founded New Zealand's largest Facebook Group, Chooice, and co-founded its e-commerce partner Chooice.co.nz.

Jessie Chiang/RNZ

Sarah Colcord founded New Zealand’s largest Facebook Group, Chooice, and co-founded its e-commerce partner Chooice.co.nz.

Many women are starting their own small businesses after a wave of Covid-19-related redundancies, according to Chooice NZ founder Sarah Colcord.

More than 5000 new businesses registered with the companies office in 2020 – the only rise in the number of companies in New Zealand in the past five years.

The novel coronavirus has changed how many people work and live, with side hustles often transformed into a main income source – a trend that is tipped to grow.

Small businesses have long been the backbone of New Zealand. There are 546,732 small enterprises in Aotearoa, making up more than 97 per cent of all companies.

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Sarah Colcord founded New Zealand’s largest Facebook Group, Chooice (formerly NZ Made Products), and co-founded its e-commerce partner Chooice.co.nz.

She noticed a sharp rise in the number of businesses appearing online since the global pandemic as consumers made a conscious effort to support local.

“There was a record number of businesses being registered in 2020 and I suspect it will be the same thing in 2021,” Colcord said.

Her platform soared in popularity during lockdown, with small businesses choosing to advertise on her Facebook page.

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Poi Creation earrings.

Supplied/RNZ

Poi Creation earrings.

Covid-19 caused 10,000 female redundancies and that was being reflected in the number of women-led new businesses, Colcord said.

“They are not resting on their laurels, they are starting side hustles and new businesses for the first time. About 80 per cent of our Facebook group are women.”

Ria Greening, the owner of Poi Creations, started making earrings with her 12-year-old son to help fundraise for his sports competitions.

Since sharing her business online, she has had more than 2000 orders, including one high-profile customer – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

There was no need to open up a shop, because social media had helped her sell her full stock on a number of occasions, she said.

Rea's Tacos.

Eleish Foon/RNZ

Rea’s Tacos.

“We are business inclined – we can actually go out there and do things. We aren’t fearful our things are not going to succeed. We always have back-up ideas. Most of us mothers encourage our children to help and it can become a bit of a family thing.”

Laura Rea also made the leap into entrepreneurship, fulfilling a longstanding dream of opening a taco truck in Nelson.

Since launching in December, she has been inundated with orders and bookings.

“Covid probably did spark a light within me to start this venture. I feel so good every day – everyone loves the tacos and it’s very empowering doing something for yourself.”

New Zealand has a higher percentage of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises than other country in the world.

It contributes over a quarter of New Zealand’s GDP – generating 41 per cent of all new jobs.

Rea said taking the leap to own your own business could be daunting but it was something you would not regret.



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