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.
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.
Agency: Regional Business Partner Network
Aimed at: All businesses, including the self-employed, at any stage
How to get it: Register for free
For advice on what types of help you might be eligible for, sign up with the local office of the Regional Business Partner Network. This will be your gateway to a wealth of advice and knowledge to support you and your business.
Your local business advisors can:
There are 14 Regional Business Partners throughout New Zealand.
Find your local Regional Business Partner (external link) — New Zealand Trade and Enterprise
Agency: Te Puni Kokiri
Aimed at: Māori business owners and entrepreneurs
How to get it: Register online
The Māori Business Facilitation Service supports 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 Facilitation Service (external link) — Te Puni Kokiri
Free tax seminars and workshops (external link) — Inland Revenue
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 (external link) , collectives are given co-funding to work with an advisor who can help identify opportunities and support new ventures.
Agency: Callaghan Innovation
Aimed at: High-growth or technology start-ups
How to get it: Sign up with your Regional Business Partner, who can connect you to the nearest incubator or accelerator
Callaghan Innovation funds incubators and accelerators across the country.
Incubators are for those with a great idea, or a new business that’s growing fast. The aim is to help flesh out that great idea and provide links to people who can help you get it to market.
Accelerator programmes are for technology start-ups and aim to quickly get them ready to approach investors.
Incubators and accelerators (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 six-month period, volunteer mentors work alongside a person with a new business or idea to:
Start-up mentoring programme (external link) — Business Mentors NZ
Map out clear goals at the start to get the best out of your mentoring relationship.
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: Tech start-ups
How to get it: Register and speak to your Regional Business Partner
Pre-incubation loans are for technology owners and tech-based start-ups to develop their ideas and commercialise their intellectual property. Some privately run accelerator programmes also help start-ups with funding.
Pre-incubation loans (external link) — Callaghan Innovation
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
The Flexi-wage programme provides advice and some financial support. To be eligible, you must be:
You can get help with set-up costs and other financial support while you’re getting started in business.
Also available is a grant 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