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The enemy of poverty – the Christchurch company exploring financial literacy

Her business didn’t start in Ōtautahi Christchurch, but Kendall Flutey made the conscious decision to relocate south after she saw a “big opportunity” in New Zealand’s second largest city.

Flutey co-founded Banqer in Wellington in 2015, a financial literacy company that builds and runs technology for schools. Classrooms become simulated economies, students are paid a salary by their teacher, pay rent on their desks, and wrangle insurance payments.

“They’re learning through experiencing, so they get their hands on some money and a bank account, they get to move it around, invest, all sorts of things,”

Kendall Flutey

“They’re learning through experiencing, so they get their hands on some money and a bank account, they get to move it around, invest, all sorts of things,” Flutey said.

In less than five years, Banqer is in more than half of all New Zealand primary schools, it’s taken root in Australia, and continues to grow. Their team of seven is based within the four avenues, Christchurch’s central city.

For Flutey, success is measured not in personal profit, but in community wealth – “education is the enemy of poverty,” she said.

The company has been listed in the Deloitte Fast 50, was named Winner of the 2018 NZ Hi-Tech Awards, among numerous other accolades.

Flutey herself has shared in this success, named the 2019 Kiwibank Young New Zealander of the Year. She was also recently named Chair of the Canterbury Momentum Investment Committee, a student-led initiative to support new businesses.

“Any founder would say they’re wanting for the next magnitude, but the milestones we’ve hit so far I’m pretty proud of. There’s still a lot left to achieve,” she said.

She said Christchurch represented an ideal playground for young businesses to explore. She felt Banqer could have an influence on the resurging city and play a part in the city’s “start-up ecosystem”.

“The rebuild phase has largely been passed through and coming into the city at the cusp of that, there was a lot of new, and a lot of ideation, and that’s the ideal environment for someone starting a business,"

Kendall Flutey

“The rebuild phase has largely been passed through and coming into the city at the cusp of that, there was a lot of new, and a lot of ideation, and that’s the ideal environment for someone starting a business,” she said.

“When we hired our latest developer, we recruited nationwide and had applicants from across the country. In the end we chose someone locally, which I think speaks to the talent that exists here.”

Together with fiancé and Banqer CFO Simon Brown, Flutey bought a house on the fringes of the city in 2017. She said affordable housing close to the city made Christchurch an ideal place to purchase their first home.

“We were thinking of buying in Wellington before we moved south, but we ended up looking mainly at tiny apartments that didn’t give us the green space we wanted, and access to the other lifestyle stuff,”

Kendall Flutey

“We were thinking of buying in Wellington before we moved south, but we ended up looking mainly at tiny apartments that didn’t give us the green space we wanted, and access to the other lifestyle stuff,” she said.

“So we were priced out of that market and that wasn’t the case in Christchurch, which was cool. To have a house and a housing market that’s attainable for us is actually pretty exciting, and that definitely exists here in Christchurch for people around my age and stage in life.”