Running your own business is the dream lifestyle for many a New Zealander, and part of our down to earth, do it yourself, go-getter kiwi attitude.
The idea of being your own boss, taking pride in your own products and services and making a name for yourself appeals to so many people.
Maybe you’re one of them, with all the ideas and motivation but lacking the funds to get your business off the ground.
The good news is that little old Aotearoa has consistently been rated as one of the best countries in the world for startups and small businesses.
In 2017, NZ took the number one spot on the World Bank’s ‘15 Best Countries to Start a Business’ list.
9 Government Grants for Kiwi Startups
There’s more good news; New Zealand has a number of legit government grants that can help you kick-start your own business.
1. Getting Started grants from Callaghan Innovation
Aimed at research and development (R&D), the Getting Started Grant can help you in the early stages of developing and testing new products.
“A Getting Started Grant will give you a kick-start to help you take your product, process or service solution from development through to commercialization,” states their website.
If you need help to get a competitive boost, troubleshooting R&D issues, figuring out user requirements or getting touch with experts to help keep you on track, this grant has you covered.
The grant will provide your business with 40% of your eligible project costs, up to a maximum of $5,000.
There are the usual hoops to jump through to be eligible: your business must be registered and meet all the financial requirements. Read more about the grant here
2. Project Grants from Callaghan Innovation
Similar to the Getting Started Grant, Project Grants are aimed at R&D, but these are specifically for larger, more innovative projects that are trying to develop and uncover new technology and ideas.
Find out more here.
3. Student Grants from Callaghan Innovation
These grants are designed to build collaboration between students and businesses, allowing your business to access upcoming talent in various fields of expertise at minimal cost, while providing the students with valuable industry experience.
They are divided into Experience Grants – where students come and work with your business during their holidays; Fellowship Grants, with students helping your business out as they undertake PhD or masters research; or Career Grants, where you invite a new graduate to join the team.
More details here
4. Technology Incubators and Accelerators – Callaghan Innovation
If your business is slanted towards technology, you may be eligible for a variety of grants or repayable loans through Callaghan Innovation. Technology incubators help to gradually build and grow a tech business to be a global powerhouse.
Accelerator programmes are designed for high speed and intensive product development, to get your business market-ready quickly. The focus is on mentoring, coaching and business support – and culminates in a final pitch to potential investors.
Read more here
5. Capability Development Vouchers from the Regional Business Partner Network
This is a great scheme in which business owners can get access to essential business and training services.
Your business may be eligible for a voucher which can provide up to 50% off these services (up to $5000 every year.)
You’ll need to meet with one of the Regional Business Partner (RBP) advisors first and come up with a plan with their help.
If they determine that your business could greatly benefit from further training, they may issue you with a Capability Voucher, which can then be used with registered services.
This is an ideal grant for a startup business that will set you off on the right foot with some professional expertise and advice. Check out this link for more details.
6. Seed Co-investment Fund – New Zealand Venture Investment Fund
You may have heard of angel or seed investing, where an individual provides capital for a start-up business, often in exchange for part ownership or profit returns.
The New Zealand government set up the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF) in 2002 to help boost the investment market in the country.
The Seed Co-investment Fund (SCIF) is aimed at start-up tech companies and helps connect businesses with investors. Go here for more info
7. Business Training and Advice Grant – WINZ
Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) offers assistance for startup businesses.
This grant can help develop your business plan, get training in relevant business skills, provide an independent vetting report, and receive valuable advice on starting a business. The cap is $1000 per year.
To be eligible, you or your partner must be receiving a benefit.
More details here
8. Self-employment Startup Payment – WINZ
If you need help with some basic start-up costs for your business, this payment may get you off the ground by covering the cost of start-up stock, essential equipment or materials, legal costs and insurance, website design and advertising materials, or even help pay for renovations to make a business viable.
It can apply to starting a new business or helping an existing business become self-sufficient.
The maximum payout is $10,000 in one year, and you or your partner will need to be already receiving a WINZ benefit. Click this link for more info
9. Start-up Business Mentoring Programme – Business Mentors New Zealand
Although not a grant as such, this is a fantastic program which a start-up business can benefit greatly from.
Business Mentors NZ is a non-profit group that uses volunteer mentors to help small businesses grow and succeed.
The Start-up Business Mentoring Programme gives you six months of one on one mentoring from an expert in your field, who will help you write a business plan, source funding, and figure out the legal side of your business.
There is a one-time registration fee of $300 plus GST to enrol for this service.
The fee covers the operational costs of the programme. More information can be found here
If you’ve spotted some grants outside of this list while doing your own research, beware; not all such grants are legit, even if they appear to be.
There are scams aplenty. Avoid any business grants that require you to pay a fee. If you’re not sure, pop the company’s name into google alongside the word “scam” or “fraud,” just to be safe.