Eli and Wyndi Tagi - Founders of WE Accounting
Powerhouse duo Eli and Wyndi Tagi want your business to win.
In 2011 this husband and wife team left the high-flying corporate world to create an accounting firm to overcome the common complaints of traditional accountants and meet the ongoing needs of business owners. Today they have over 20 employees - and six kids.
‘When we first started talking about creating a new business, I wasn’t as keen as Wyndi,’ says Eli, who worked as an auditor for the IRD and RSM. ‘But once I looked a little deeper, the numbers stacked up. I thought, hey if we fail, we can always go back to our normal jobs. We had to give it a go. Thankfully, we haven’t looked back.’
It was a no-brainer for Wyndi, who had grown tired of asking for leave just to watch her kids play sport, or to attend cultural events. ‘It was a challenge,' she says. 'But I think it depends on what your motivation is. You'll always find a way, besides, I like to be the boss! Many former managers struggled with me because I think outside the box - many couldn’t cope with that.’
With a business plan in place, it was time to create WE Accounting’s purpose.
Wyndi: ‘We’re not your typical accountants, we like to get involved beyond the numbers. Yes, we’re an accounting firm, but more importantly we strive to help and change the dismal statistics associated with Māori, Pasifika, and indigenous people. We're about building wealth and changing your money mindset, teaching you that by having money, you can help your people.’
Eli and Wyndi understand that indigenous businesses typically hire indigenous people, which in turn causes a ripple effect within their community, helping many people to climb out of poverty. A shared vision of creating wealth is always top of mind, as is encouraging small businesses to be all that they can be.
Wyndi says, ‘Knowing how much tax you owe in itself is not going to help you make good decisions, or to achieve your goals. Sure, it’s important to understand this aspect of the business, but it's not the key driver for growth. We aim to develop our advisory services to boost small businesses. Having those key numbers alongside your long-term plan will assist in making informed decisions. We spend time finding out who you are and what you want.'
100,000 million-dollar businesses might sound audacious, but Wyndi is resolute. Once again, she and Eli have done the numbers. They figure that if they can encourage a business to reach an annual turnover of a million dollars, they'll be far more sustainable and well on their way towards future success. So why not create 100,000 of them?
Both Eli and Wyndi are charming and likable, and their personal goals are skewed towards the community, as well as profit. For Eli, his tangata whenua is also his birthplace, Samoa, and he is adamant to spend a good chunk of his time giving back.
Samoa, however, has its challenges.
Eli: ‘When we first looked at opening an office in Apia we had no idea that the premises often flooded. If our staff hadn’t moved their equipment it would have washed away. Something had to be done. One of the things we like about working with Consegna and Amazon Web Services is the option of using a satellite as a backup. We’ll have options in the future if these types of mini disasters occur.’
The timing is perfect for WE Accounting with the recent addition of the Tui-Samoa submarine cable system, which spans more than 1,470 km and provides an advanced broadband highway for inclusive social and economic growth. It will also mean many businesses will be able to scale operations and deliver more stable internet connections.
Eli: ‘Without the new cable there is no way we could have expanded into Samoa as our business relies heavily on being in the cloud. Teaming up with Consegna and implementing AWS cloud-based technologies gives us complete confidence.'
Eli and Wyndi are also keen to tap into other features like virtual disk space, which saves buying expensive computers, effectively providing a cheaper version of a desktop and enabling the WE Accounting team to work from anywhere, any time of the day. Most importantly, Amazon Web Services’ latest technology also provides watertight security of client data.
Wyndi: ‘We have big ambitions to scale our business to a global community and we're hoping to sign off on an agreement with the Samoan government. Having the support of Consegna and AWS will no doubt help us to build our platform. Potentially, within the next five years, we could have up to a thousand employees in Samoa alone. This will be a massive driver of employment, not only in Samoa, but in the entire Pacific region. We will need capital, but we’re already in talks with potential funders and investors for that operational growth.’
With six kids and a thriving business, the Tagis run a busy, creative household. So what gets Wyndi and Eli up every morning?
Wyndi: ‘We've done a lot of work around our purposes and how they reflect in our business. I'm all for the underdog. My goal is to create role models to help others to be successful, ensuring they don’t fall into the category of, like many businesses, failing in their first five years.’
‘Often, by just talking to one person can impact so many others. Our kaupapa is centred around Māori and Pacific cultural values because we have this unshakeable belief that we can change the statistics for small businesses, especially for Māori, Pacific, and indigenous businesses.’
Stay tuned for the next update on how the WE Accounting, Consegna and AWS pilot is progressing into production.