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Saturday 10 October 2009

Chch Business Association addresses recession

Posted in: Community
By Matt Akersten - 19th May 2009

Biz Wits: Sophie Chin, Jill Borland & Richy James
Members of Christchurch's new LGBT business group received some valuable advice about beating the recession at last night's Biz Wits meeting.

GBA Christchurch was launched at last year's Chch Pride Week, and on its first anniversary meeting, Chairperson Jill Borland said its database has 60 groups and individuals so far, and the group's new website is about to go live.

"It's a promising start," she says. "We're here for gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender people in Christchurch and Canterbury, providing professional and social networking opportunities to promote and strengthen the businesses of our members – and provide mentoring and professional support for those who need it."

In the Dux de Lux lounge last night, twenty members were assembled for the GBA's 'Biz Wits' event, where Borland introduced two guest speakers: business advisor Ricky James, who was visiting from the Gay Auckland Business Association, and Sophie Chin, the founder of Sophie's Café, now also a business marketing speaker and mentor.

James shared some advice about how businesses might survive the recession – along the lines of "ignore the headlines", "get out of your comfort zone" and please "don't panic!" His ideas struck a chord with the audience, some of whom were certain Christchurch was somewhat sheltered from the economic downturn. One group member asked for advice about chasing up debtors, saying it had become more and more difficult for her clients to pay on time recently.

Chin, recipient of several gongs at Miss Mole's annual Chch Oscars Awards, told several stories of her ups and downs opening various cafes, and took questions from the group. One woman wanted to know how to succeed in the "old boys' business network" and the response made it clear that such a network would never dare mess with Sophie Chin.

As the meeting wound down business cards were swapped and most attendees stayed at least an hour after the speeches ended to mix and mingle.

Like the Gay Auckland Business Association and Rainbow Wellington, GBA meets monthly for social drinks. Their 'Thirsty Thursday' after work events are held on the first Thursday of each month at the Vespa Room in Poplar Street from 5:30pm. Members, guests and visitors to Chch are welcome.

GBA Chch's website is under construction here. Christchurch Pride Week continues tonight with's Forum Meet-Up at C1 Café and the Bears' Meet at Pommeroy's Wine Bar from 7pm. More information on Chch Pride Week is on its official website.

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Matt Akersten - 19th May 2009