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If you need some help to commercialise a business idea, or to tackle challenging business questions as a sole trader, you can register with your local Regional Business Partner Network. Here, you can find out which of these options are available to you, such as small business grants, low-cost business advice and mentoring. Rather than providing you with free financing, the focus of these forms of government assistance is to give you access with a vast network who can help you acquire the skills you need to run a successful business. Therefore, before you ask for help, it is a good idea to do some business planning, as the better you can articulate your vision, the more opportunities you will have access to. This article will explain what type of help is available to small businesses and startups in New Zealand, and how to apply to a small business grant. 

What Are Small Business Grants?

Small businesses grants are funds available to eligible entrepreneurs to help them get started or to fund projects that traditional lenders do not support. These funds can come from:

  • philanthropists;
  • companies; and
  • government agencies.

In some instances, grants are co-funded, so you will need to match any funding you receive. With a few exceptions, you should not need to pay any fees to access a grant. If you get asked to do so, make sure you are not dealing with a scammer.

Start by signing up with your local office of the Regional Business Partner Network. It does not matter what stage your business is in, or if you are a sole trader, you can still register for free, to access:

  • business advice, tools, events and articles specifically tailored to your needs;
  • connections with other professionals and access to industry-specific networks; and 
  • advice on what type of assistance you might be eligible for.

What Small Business Grants Are Available to You?

As an entrepreneur in New Zealand, you can access different types of loans and grants, depending on your industry and business model. This table outlines some of the options that you may be eligible for:  

Funding Scheme

Aim 

Who Can Apply

How to Get It

Callaghan Innovation Incubators and Accelerators

Incubators help to flesh out great ideas and provide links to people who can help get it to market. Accelerator programmes help to get you ready to approach investors.

High-growth or technology start-ups.

Sign up with your Regional Business Partner, who can connect you to the nearest incubator or accelerator.

Callaghan Innovation Pre-incubation loans

To help develop your idea and commercialise your intellectual property. Tech start-ups.

Sign up with your Regional Business Partner.

Work and Income

To provide advice and some financial support. 

People receiving benefits who want to start a business.

Speak to a case manager at Work and Income.

This information can change, so your Regional Business Partner can offer further advice as to what is available to you at any time.

Other Forms of Help Available 

Aside from grants, there are other forms of support available to sole traders and businesses who are starting. These include:

Mentoring

Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) 

BMNZ is a not-for-profit organisation that offers a small business mentoring service. When you sign up, you will be assigned an experienced business mentor who will work alongside you over a 12-month period to help you:

  • improve your current operations;
  • grow your business; or
  • solve a specific problem. 

To join this programme, you can register on the BMNZ website and pay a one-off registration fee.

Support for Māori Business Owners

Te Puni Kōkiri

Te Puni Kōkiri Business Growth Advisors can help Māori business owners and entrepreneurs get their business off the ground by providing advice, information, connection and funded capability development.

Māori business owners and entrepreneurs are eligible, if:

  • the majority ownership of your business identifies as Māori;
  • you have a business plan; and
  • you have attended Inland Revenue’s Introduction to Business workshop.

After you register online, an account manager in your region will get in touch to help you identify your needs. 

Key Takeaways

As a new businesses in New Zealand, you can access various forms of help, including:`

  • free advice;
  • mentoring; and 
  • small business grants.

Grants are not free money. Instead, they are aimed to help you develop skills to run your business successfully. Some grants are co-funded, so you will need to match any funding you receive. As a first step, you should sign up with your local office of the Regional Business Partner Network to find out what you are eligible for. If you need guidance through the legalities of setting up your business or preparing for a capital raise, contact LegalVision’s startup lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

FAQs

How can I get a grant to start a small business in New Zealand?

The first step is to find your nearest Regional Business Partner office and register with them. A consultant can explain what you are eligible for and connect you to the nearest incubator or accelerator. You can then follow the specific organisation’s application process, often listed on their website. If you are applying for a Work and Income funded grant, speak to your case manager about the requirements.

What kind of grants can I get to start a business?

As an entrepreneur in New Zealand, you can access various forms of help in the form of small business grants and (or) loans. For example, Callaghan Innovation offers pre-incubation loans, incubation and accelerator grants if you meet certain criteria. Work and Income also offers some financial support to people receiving benefits who want to start a business. Some grants are co-funded, so you will need to match any funding you receive. Your best point of start is to sign up with the Regional Business Partner Network to find out what you are eligible to.

How can I get free money from the government to start a business?

Government assistance for businesses is not the same as free money. Instead, they are designed to give you access to some financing and a vast network who can help you acquire the skills you need to run a successful business.

Do small business grants have to be paid back?

Generally, you do not have to pay back small business grants but you should always confirm this during your application process.

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