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Meet the entrepreneur helping Indigenous business owners to thrive

Indiyah Giles left a career in corporate banking just before the pandemic to start a virtual bookkeeping and accounting business. Here’s how she grew Rautaki Collective and became a leader.

At a glance

A small business loan from Prospa helped Indiyah Giles of Rautaki Collective to:

  • Cover operational costs when first growing the business
  • Pay staff on time
  • Start the process of expansion

It started with a trip to Hawai’i.

Indiyah Giles had spent several years working in banking. While she enjoyed her career, she was tired of corporate life. Learning more about the Indigenous culture in Hawai’i and ancestral ways of living re-ignited her long-held dream of starting her own business.

When she returned to New Zealand Indiyah attended a networking event and knew she wanted to help small business owners.

While her goal was to provide advisory services, she recognised that she needed experience running a business and to create revenue. So she launched Rautaki Collective, which provides virtual bookkeeping and accounting services.

The business’ point of difference is its focus on working predominantly with Māori and Pasifika businesses. “We didn’t want to be just another bookkeeping company,” says Indiyah. “We wanted it to be special. I bring a lot of my ancestral knowledge, heritage and experience of my culture into the business.”

According to Indiyah, Rautaki’s values are key to its success. “From an Indigenous perspective, we have a different way of working than the capitalist model that’s inherent in society,” she explains. “We take a holistic approach to business. It’s not only the financial stuff, it’s the people and environment. I’m able to help people who are struggling financially even though they have a wonderful offering – whether it’s a service or a product – but don’t know how to commercialise it.”

Importance of relationships

Indiyah saw a gap in the market for financial service providers that centre around relationships – something Indigenous cultures place huge importance on. “I’ve noticed there’s been a huge decline in that relationship between either the accountant or financial service provider and the customer,” she says. “If we can’t relate, connect and build the trust that’s required to have solid, long-term relationships, we’re not going to be around for long. People are more open to learning when you provide a safe space for them and take away the stigma of what’s happening in their business. It’s those relationships that have brought us a lot of business.”

Indiyah started Rautaki Collective just before the pandemic hit. As a first-time business owner, one of the key challenges she faced was cashflow.

“Because we partner with a lot of organisations, including government agencies, we complete the work, invoice for it, then have to wait for payment to come through,” she says. “Even though the income isn’t coming in immediately, you still have to pay your staff. Not having cash in the bank will kill your business before anything else.”

Rautaki blog 1

Modelling best practices

To help her with these issues, Indiyah took out a small business loan with Prospa which she’s been able to successfully refinance.

She admits it wasn’t an easy decision initially. “I was pretty opposed to finance in general,” she says. “The financial structures and systems are still foreign to Indigenous people. For my culture it can be quite a shameful experience to apply for finance.”

But Indiyah realised she had to be a leader and model best business practices for her clients. “I wanted to show that I’m not going to recommend something that I wouldn’t do,” she says. “I’m not ashamed of needing financial help. I see it as using the right resource at the right time and I’m still here today because of it.”

“Prospa made me feel valued, which is what we’re trying to do for our clients.”

Prospa’s easy application process was a major deciding factor for Indiyah to take the loan. “It was such a simple process, starting with a click of a button,” she says. “Within a day it was a done deal.”

With relationships being so important to her, Indiyah was impressed by the level of support she received from Prospa. “It was so nice to get a phone call from the agent,” she says. “It gives you peace of mind about what’s going to happen next. It’s a safe space and you don’t feel shamed or judged. Prospa made me feel valued, which is what we’re trying to do for our clients.”

Rautaki Blog 2

Becoming a leader

Rautaki Collective is now at the point where Indiyah is looking to expand the business. She recently refinanced her Prospa loan to start the ball rolling on how to grow the business.

In the long term Indiyah is keen to take more of an advisory and leadership role where she can continue to support business owners. Part of this includes continuing to engage with Māori and Pasifika business networks that support Indigenous entrepreneurs to navigate their business through post-pandemic conditions.

“I’d love to do more educational activities,” she says. “If someone’s got a business concept, we can help them test it, provide them with some resources and a wraparound service to help them to operate successfully and grow.”

Need flexible access to funds that could help your business grow? Speak with one of our small business lending specialists.

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With Prospa’s fast application and decision, this time tomorrow you could have the funds you need to set your business up for success.

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