Monday, 21 February 2011

KEA Keeps Kiwis Connected

The expat population is one with huge economic potential as the latest findings from the Expat Explorer survey highlight. Countries have developed many interesting initiatives to harness their overseas talent but one that recently caught our attention is the Kiwi Expat Association of New Zealand.

The Kiwi Expat Association or Kea is a global network connecting New Zealand with the rest of the world by cultivating a community of enthusiastic Kiwi expats. New Zealand has always been a country of travellers and Kea’s aim is to see their global Kiwi contingent as a powerful offshore population at the heart of the global community.

One of the central aims of Kea is to leverage its global network to increase export trade and international investment by providing New Zealand businesses with greater access to international markets through the Kiwi expat community. This commitment has led to a new initiative led by Kea which will match would-be exports with offshore kiwi experts in an attempt to help the export sector.

Sue Watson the new chief executive of Kea commented, "We're developing a whole range of products that will help export-ready New Zealand companies, particularly in the SME sector, to connect with Kiwi expats who have capability, capital and connections, quite simply, to help them grow their business in offshore markets."

With a highly mobile population, New Zealand has often been perceived as one of the worst countries for ‘brain drain’ with a survey last year finding that it has the worst record among the developed nations for retaining its skilled workers, with nearly a quarter of them having left the country. Dr Watson says that Kea wants to take this worrying trend and turn it into a positive for New Zealand saying, "Rather than seeing it as a problem we're reframing it as an opportunity."

Kea is also investigating other initiatives based on the same principles including helping expatriates invest in venture capital opportunities and organising “in-market” video-conferences between Kiwis overseas and New Zealand based organisations. Through these programmes Kea is helping to prove that even when countries lose their human resources there are ways to harness an expat collective to their home country no matter where they are in the world.

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