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Small Business Driver


Steve Kemble, owner of Elite Stages, has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. His company is in the events business, focusing purely on large-scale events. The industry it’s in was one of the first affected as events were cancelled, and it will be one of the last to get ‘back to normal’ now that people can gather in large numbers once again.

Elite Stages is one of 100 small businesses affected by COVID-19 that have been granted the use of Toyota Highlanders for 12 months, including advertising support and media and creative material as part of a partnership between Toyota and MediaWorks’ MediaFund.

The partnership was formed by Toyota and MediaWorks to mobilise 100 small businesses affected by COVID-19 and help them get going in the new, post-lockdown world.

The initiative was born as a result of many small businesses hurting following their closure during the government-enforced lockdown in New Zealand’s battle to fight COVID-19.

"Elite Stages was forced to shut down completely, with no assistance for our industry except the Wage Subsidy, which has been helpful for wages but not for keeping our business afloat," says Steve.

“This is amazing help for our business, as it will allow us to sell our company car and use the money to help towards our business expenses for the rest of this year.”

Steve intends to use the Toyota Highlander to travel up and down the country, creating sales and helping reassure event promoters that it will be there for them for their upcoming events.

“We are at a point where we have no income whatsoever, and haven’t had since February 2020. If we are unable to keep our business afloat until the summer of 2020-2021 we may have to put the business into receivership.

“Our company has the largest number of stage covers for such events. If we are unable to keep operating, New Zealand music promoters will have to source covers from overseas.”

Andrew Davis, Toyota New Zealand Executive, says Toyota has been affected by COVID-19 like most businesses, but is thrilled to be able to mobilise its resources to help other business owners.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the New Zealand economy, and many have been loyal Toyota customers for decades. In these difficult times they need all the help they can get – from Kiwi consumers, from the government and from other, larger businesses.

“Toyota cares about business owners and their employees. We’re part of everyday life in New Zealand and want to help businesses to keep moving during these uncertain times. Any way of reducing their expenses will help, so we are drawing on our inventory and putting up 100 Highlanders for use for a year,” Andrew says.

Small businesses were invited to apply for one of the 100 Highlanders on offer. The criteria were that they had to show they employed fewer than 20 people and had received the government’s Wage Subsidy.

When it heard about the Toyota offer, MediaWorks was so impressed it joined in with a radio advertising campaign that will also be provided to each business, with a total value of $1 million from its MediaFund.

Entries were open for a week in early June, with an independent selection panel assembled by Toyota and MediaWorks selecting the 100 small businesses worthy of receiving the Highlanders and radio campaigns. The panel was inundated, with more than 3,000 entries from a broad range of small businesses from all parts of the country, which had to be whittled down to the 100 small businesses that will have the use of Highlanders for a year!