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Small business grants in New Zealand

Happy man looking at some paperwork after receiving a grant for his business

When starting a small business, one of the most challenging hurdles to leap can be funding. Small businesses often lack the capital that larger corporations have access to, therefore, they must explore alternative methods of financing their business.

Fortunately, there are numerous small business grants available for business owners looking to get started or grow. Government agencies, businesses and philanthropists give grants for specific reasons. Many grants require applicants to meet specific criteria before being eligible for funds. However, with proper research and preparation, you can maximise your chances of a successful application. 

In this blog, we will cover

  • The basics of small business grants
  • How to apply for a small business grant 
  • Types of business grants in New Zealand 
  • Other support for small business owners

Small business grants basics

What is a small business grant?

A small business grant is a type of funding given by government agencies, companies or philanthropists aiming to give entrepreneurs a helping hand with starting or growing their businesses. The funds can be used to buy equipment, train staff, develop software, and more.

Generally, small business grants don’t have to be repaid, however, you may need to meet specific requirements. The process of completing and the wait for the final results is time-consuming and the competition is very high for certain grants.

It’s important to find out what type of grant is right for you and your business’s needs before your application.

Who can get a small business grant?

Business grants can be awarded to any type of business, whether it’s an individual who wants to establish his/her own business or a limited company.

You should also be aware that not all small business grants are appropriate for your business. Some are better suited for new businesses while others may be more suitable for established businesses looking to take further R&D for the next step forward. 

What should I do before applying for a small business grant?

There are a few things you should know before you start applying.

Firstly, remember that not all grants are free. Many grant programs offer matching funds, with a portion of the award coming from you. Secondly, it’s important to know when grants are available. Some grant programs have specific deadlines for applications, so you’ll want to take this into account.

Finding appropriate grant programs is the first step on your application journey. The following sources can help you to find grant programs that are right for your business; government agencies, chambers of commerce, grant-seeking websites or your accountant or financial advisor.

Contact your Beany accountant if you have any questions about applying for a small business grant. They will help you with guidance every step of the way.

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How to apply for a small business grant?

When applying for a grant, careful planning and research are key. Before you start, you’ll want to set a plan of action and make a list of all the tasks that need to be done.

  1. Identify your funding needs
    It’s important to have a documented plan for how you intend to use the funds. Showing the how you plan to use the money will help your grant provider to understand your goals, mission and give them an understanding of how effectively you’ll make use of your awarded funding. Ask yourself questions such as do you want to use the funding to start a business or grow your business? Is there a particular use for the funding such as R&D?
  2. Read the eligibility criteria carefully
    Applying for a small business grant can be resource intensive. The last thing you want is to find out you’re ineligible at the application stage. If you’re unsure, contact someone from the organisation directly.
  3. Create a strong business plan
    Creating a strong business plan to showcase your vision for your business is essential. It helps the organisation/grant provider align its mission, values and goals with yours. Be clear on what you want to achieve in every stage of your business and how you intend to manage it.
  4. Select the right grant for your business
    Some business grants are industry or vertical-specific, so you can narrow down your choices by talking with others in your sector. This can also help you build connections for future investment and funding opportunities.
  5. Fill out the application
    This step is self-explanatory, but it’s key not to overlook any details during the application process. Certain grants have a deadline each year.
  6. Secure the support of others 
    Some business organisations don’t provide funding directly, but can still be helpful in your process. However, a number of groups can provide support and mentorship (e.g, Regional Business Partner Network, Business Mentors New Zealand). We have listed a few organisations in the following paragraph that offer support for business owners, continue to read.
  7. Follow up on your application
    Grants for small businesses can be considered 'free money,' so competition is often fierce, and the process can take a long time. You should follow up on your application if you haven’t heard back. Keep an optimistic but realistic attitude.

Small business grants in New Zealand

There are many types of business grants available in New Zealand, so it’s important to select those that are suitable and offer the most benefits to your business. When looking for the right grants, it’s critical to ask yourself: 

  • What is the grant’s purpose? 
  • Are there certain requirements you must meet? 
  • What is the grant’s funding timeline? 
  • When does the grant application process end?

As a starting point here’s a non-exhaustive list of some small business grants available in New Zealand:

Other support for small business owners

Trying to apply for small business grants but not getting them can be frustrating. However, there are many other resources that can help you establish your business and help it grow, from training to networking.

Regional Business Partner Network

A Regional Business Partner Network connects New Zealand's small and medium businesses with the right advice, people and resources. This New Zealand government-funded scheme has 14 regional growth agencies nationwide to support your business’s growth. You can find more information on the Regional Business Partners Network website

Business Mentors New Zealand 

Business Mentors New Zealand  provides mentorship for new businesses, startups, and social entreprises. Upon registration ($295 + GST, one-off fee), you will receive up to 12 months' access to a business mentor who will help you develop your business and yourself as a business owner. Your mentor will also guide you through the challenges your business could potentially face in today’s competitive environment. Find out more on their website

Māori Business Growth Fund

This scheme provides Māori businesses with information and advice as well as networking opportunities to establish and grow. Find out more information on their website. This scheme is open for application now. 

Callaghan Innovation 

In addition to providing a number of grants, Callaghan Innovation also provides support for accelerated companies and technology startups. See more information here

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