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Grants and help for your new business

Grants and help for your new business

If you’ve launched a new business or become self-employed, help is at hand. Government support such as grants, low-cost business advice and mentoring will help you get off the ground.

Help from the government shouldn’t be mistaken for free money. If your business is still young, most government assistance focuses on building your skills and knowledge, and linking you with advisors and networks.

There are many free or low-cost opportunities available if you’re in the early stage of business.

The more fully formed your business idea is, the more help you’ll be able to get. Whether you’re self-employed, own or run a business, it’s a good idea to do some business planning before you approach any advisors, mentors and funding officers.

Tips on how to write a business plan

Beware of funding scams, in which fraudsters trick you into paying fees to find grants

Beware of funding scams, in which fraudsters trick you into paying fees to find grants

If a company claims to be able to help you get grants, do your research first. Try the Commerce Commission for information on bogus grant-finders.

Support for Māori business owners

Agency: Te Puni Kōkiri

Aimed at: Māori business owners and entrepreneurs

How to get it: Register online

The Māori Business Growth Supports aims to help Māori business owners and entrepreneurs starting out.

To be eligible, the majority ownership of your business must identify as Māori. You must also have a business plan and have attended Inland Revenue’s Introduction to Business workshop.

You’ll be paired with an account manager who will work with you to identify your needs. Account managers are located throughout New Zealand.

Māori Business Growth Support(external link) — Te Puni Kōkiri

Agency: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Aimed at: Māori collectives

How to get it: Apply in the annual call for proposals

The Māori Innovation Fund seeks to build the skills and knowledge of Māori collectives and trusts.

Under the fund’s Commercial advisor scheme, collectives are given co-funding to work with an advisor who can help identify opportunities and support new ventures.

Read the 2017 Commercial Advisors Scheme: approved commercial advisors [PDF, 140KB](external link)

Find more on Support for Māori business(external link) — MBIE website

Start-up and founder support

Agency: Callaghan Innovation

Aimed at: Tech start-ups

How to get it: Explore programme openings and submit an application with the programme suited to your business

Callaghan Innovation has partnered with a number of leading organisations that specialise in supporting promising start-ups during their early stages.

They provide a series of accelerator and growth programmes, led by experts, designed to help start-ups grow and reach a point where they’re prepared to approach investors.

The programmes offer access to expert mentoring, advice, and an opportunity to learn from like-minded founders.

Startup and Founder Support(external link) — Callaghan Innovation


Agency: Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ)

Aimed at: People with a new business idea or those who want help to start a new business

How to get it: Register online and pay a one-off registration fee

BMNZ mentors are experienced business people with expertise in new ventures. They have an understanding of the steps needed to validate a business idea or get a new business off the ground.

Over a 12-month period, volunteer mentors work alongside a person with a new business or idea to:

  • offer guidance
  • test thinking
  • step through a feasibility assessment
  • support you to build a robust business plan.

Start-up mentoring programme(external link) — Business Mentors NZ

A mentor acts as your guide to business

A mentor acts as your guide to business

Map out clear goals at the start to get the best out of your mentoring relationship.

Grants and funding

There are few government grants or funding schemes available to the self-employed and businesses just starting out. If you’re eligible, you might have to match any funding you get. Your Regional Business Partner will help you find suitable grants.

Here are two funding schemes specifically for new businesses.

Agency: Callaghan Innovation

Aimed at: Deep tech innovators, researchers or entrepreneurs

How to get it: Contact the Deep Tech Incubator Product Manager to find out whether the programme is right for your business

Deep Tech refers to advanced technologies that are based on significant scientific or engineering breakthroughs. These technologies often require extensive research and development, high levels of expertise, and significant investment.

The Deep Tech Incubator programme was created to fund and support New Zealand innovators with big ideas, to advance Aotearoa in the scientific and technological space.

Deep Tech Incubators(external link) — Callaghan Innovation 

Contact details — Regional Business Partner Network


Agency: Work and Income

Aimed at: People on benefits who want to start a business or become self-employed

How to get it: Speak to a case manager at Work and Income to discuss how to apply

The Flexi-wage programme provides advice and some financial support. 

Who can get it

You may be able to get Flexi-wage for self-employment if you're:

  1. on a main benefit, eg:
    • Jobseeker Support
    • Sole Parent Support
    • Supported Living Payment
  2. and seeking to do one of the following:
    • start up a new business, or
    • need help to become self-sufficient in an existing business.

Who can't get it

You won't be able to get Flexi-wage for self-employment if you're:

    • re-starting a business that you've owned before
    • currently bankrupt.

If you qualify for Flexi-wage for Self Employment you could get help with set-up costs and other financial support while you’re getting started in business.

Also a Business Training and Advice Grant may be available to help pay training costs associated with starting your own business. It can also be used to pay for business advisor costs.

Flexi-wage programme(external link)  — Work and Income

Business training and advice grant(external link) — Work and Income