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Government grants: Avoid scams + get free advice

Every year the government invests millions into businesses through grants and incentives. But bogus grant-finders also offer to help small businesses secure this money — for a fee.

The key is getting legitimate advice about which funding options are the best fit for your business, and how to apply for them. Here’s where to get this advice — plus tips on how to avoid scammers.

Beware of online grant scams that promise to help you get a grant for a fee.

Beware of online grant scams that promise to help you get a grant for a fee.

Call us on 0800 424 946 before you pay anyone any fee for any grant.

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. Search online for the company’s name, and try adding the word “scam” or “fraud” to your search.

The Commerce Commission’s website also has information on bogus grant-finders. Since 2013, it has issued warnings against a company that’s called itself various names, including:

  • New Zealand Government Grants Department
  • New Zealand Small Business Assistance Centre (NZSBAC)
  • New Zealand Business Funding Centre

And watch out for URLs like:

  • nzfundinggrants.org
  • nzgovernmentgrants.org

Bogus grant-finders change their names regularly — and pay to rank highly in online searches for business grants.

Commerce Commission (external link)

What funding is available for small businesses?

Whether you’re starting out or a well-established business, government agencies offer a range of support — from mentoring and grants to capability building — to help small businesses succeed.

A common misunderstanding is that there is lots of cash available for any business. This is not the case. Government grants tend to be for small numbers of businesses in key sectors that have demonstrated they meet given criteria.

Instead most government programmes aim to help by boosting your skills and knowledge, rather than cash handouts. Where funding is available, often it is co-funded, so you’ll have to invest at least as much money as you are given.

Research and development (R&D) funding, managed by Callaghan Innovation. There are a range of grants to meet business needs – whether you are a young start-up or an established R&D performer.
Callaghan Innovation  (external link)

Business advisory services, available through the Regional Business Partner Network, funded by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) and Callaghan Innovation. Business advisors work with local business owners to give advice, support and access to funding for business growth initiatives.
Regional Business Partner Network (external link)

Capability development vouchers, delivered by the Regional Business Partner Network. These can be used to co-fund the cost of management training, and are available to businesses with less than 50 full-time employees.

If your company wants to expand overseas, or grow its export market, call NZTE on 0800 555 888 if you’re not already working with this government agency. While specific grants aren’t available for exporters, co-funding may be available as part of a planned package of services.
Export essentials - NZTE guides (external link)

Be vigilant about non-government websites that offer to help with government grant applications.

Be vigilant about non-government websites that offer to help with government grant applications.

The Commerce Commission recently warned (external link)  against paying organisations for grant-finding assistance.

Would a checklist to protect against scams or hack attacks be useful?

How to find out if you’re eligible for funding

Only trust online information that comes directly from the New Zealand Government or its agencies. Remember:

  • Information about government financial support for businesses is available for free online or by calling the relevant government agency.
  • Genuine New Zealand government websites end in “.govt.nz”.
  • Be wary of websites with URLs ending in “.org” and those claiming they can help you secure grant funding.
  • Do not give these websites your credit card details.

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