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Government Grants for Small Business in Australia

government grants

Government grants for small business are often overlooked as a way to finance and grow a small business. In Australia, the Commonwealth and state governments offer a diverse range of government grants for companies of all sizes. Here we’ll look at some of the types of government grants and other assistance offered for a range of scenarios.

What is a government grant?

With a government grant, you are given money for meeting certain criteria. Before you get a grant, you need to complete a grant submission that proves that you qualify. In many cases, the money needs to be used in a certain way such as buying energy-saving equipment or machinery. Sometimes it’s matched funding where you put in a certain amount which is matched by the agency providing the grant. For example, some export grants require that you use some of your own funds to promote your products or services in international markets. The amount you spend is matched by the government grant.

In addition to grants, government assistance programs offer help such as low-interest or interest-free loans, training and mentoring. Although these are not outright grants of money, this type of assistance can promote small business growth.

With nine broad categories of grants to choose from, it’s likely you will be able to find a suitable grant for your small business.

Government grants for new and growing businesses in Australia

In general, there are few government grants to assist you with starting a business. However, if you have a small business and are looking to grow, there are many forms of assistance. These include low-interest and interest-free loans and business mentoring. Grants and assistance programs cover a wide range of industries – from fishing and agriculture to high-tech and aerospace. Many of these are focused on research and development.

Government grants for sales and marketing

As sales and marketing are crucial for business growth and success, there are many government grants in this area to assist small business. Much of the focus is on international sales and marketing. These include Export Market Development Grants which provide up to 50% of promotional expenses to exporters who want to increase their export sales. Promotional expenses must be over $15,000 to a maximum of $150,000.

Government grants for introducing your idea to the market

Many of these tend to be focused on research and development but can be applicable to small business. One example is the CSIRO Kick Start. It gives Australian start-ups and SMEs matched funding of up to $50,000 to conduct research activities with the CSIRO to grow and develop.

Government grants for importing and exporting

A range of government grants and other forms of assistance are available to help small business with importing and exporting products and services. One example is the Efic Export Contract Loan. It offers loans starting at $100,000 to small and medium businesses to support an export contract or purchase order when traditional lenders are not able to assist.

Government grants and assistance for buying equipment

As with others, the forms of assistance include loans and grants. These are specifically for buying equipment used in production or for other purposes, such as saving energy and reducing environmental waste. One example is the Bin Trim Rebates Program in New South Wales. It reimburses up to 50% of the capital cost – between $1,000 and $50,000 – to SMEs that install small-scale recycling equipment to increase workplace recycling.

Government grants for employing people

Many of these are aimed at developing skills and helping unemployed people get back to work.  One example is the Youth Jobs PaTH program which is available to small business. It provides up to $1000, plus insurance, to trial a young person between the ages of 17 and 24 on the job to ensure they will be suitable for the role. Businesses that hire an eligible young person after the trial period receive $10,000.

Government grants for disaster recovery

Many of these grants offer assistance to farmers affected by drought and other disasters in Australia. They include low-interest and interest-free loans and subsidies. Some of these grants also cover economic upheavals such as the closure of automobile manufacturers. One example is the Local Fund for Industry Transition. It assists Victorian businesses affected by the closure of car manufacturers with funding of up to $2 million. This is to cover up to 25% of costs for eligible projects to find new markets and create new jobs. 

For expanding and diversifying

These include grants and loans to help businesses grow. One example is the Indigenous Business Development Program NT. It provides up to $30,000 to Indigenous people in the Northern Territory to start or grow a business.

Government grants for improving health and safety

These include grants and assistance to improve health and safety in businesses. One example is the WorkSafe OHS Essentials Program in Victoria. It provides occupational health and safety (OH&S) training to small to medium businesses in Victoria. The aim is to improve workplace safety and comply with insurance requirements.

For more information on government grants for small business, visit the Australian Government’s Grants, Assistance and Other Support page.  


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