Check the eligibility criteria for small business grants
The first step in seeking small business grants is determining what your purpose is because grants are awarded for specific criteria. For example, there are grants for:
- Sales and marketing
- Introducing new ideas into the market
- Importing and exporting
- Buying machinery and equipment
- Employing jobseekers
- Expanding and diversifying.
Other forms of eligibility requirements include geographical location and the size of your business. State and city grants are available only to small businesses located within the state or city offering the grant. In addition, many grants are available to small to medium business within a certain revenue range.
Types of small business grants
Small business grants come in nine broad categories and it’s likely that you will be able to find one that applies to your business situation.
Small business grants for new and expanding businesses
If you are starting a small business, there are few small business grants that provide financial assistance. However, a small business seeking to grow can find a range of options available, including interest-free and low-interest loans and mentoring. Assistance programs cover a wide range of industries – from farming and fishing to high-tech and aerospace. There is a range of grants available, with many focused on boosting research and development.
Small business grants to increase competitiveness and productivity
These tend to be offered by the Commonwealth Government which aims to boost competitiveness and productivity among Australian businesses. The flagship grant in this area is the Entrepreneurs Programme. It is part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda and provides practical support for businesses, such as:
- Advice from people who have relevant private sector experience
- Grants to commercialise new products, processes and services
- Funding to take advantage of growth opportunities
- Opportunities to connect and collaborate.
Find out more about the Entrepreneurs Programme.
Small business grants for sales and marketing
A number of business grants are available to assist in the critical area of sales and marketing. Many of these are focused on enhancing international sales and marketing efforts. For example, the Federal Government offers Export Market Development Grants. These give exporters up to 50% of promotional expenses used towards increasing export sales. This grant applies when promotional expenses are between $15,000 and $150,000.
Grants for introducing new ideas to the market
A large number of small business grants in this area are focused on research and development. For example, the CSIRO Kick Start provides matched funding up to $50,000 to Australian start-ups and SMEs to undertake research in collaboration with the CSIRO to research and develop new products.
Small business grants for importing and exporting
Small businesses wanting to expand overseas or import new products and services can receive support through specialised loans. The Efic Export Contract Loan, for example, offers loans starting at $100,000 to support a purchase order or export contract when traditional lenders aren’t able to help.
Government loans and grants for purchasing equipment
These loans and grants are for buying production equipment or equipment used for reducing waste and saving energy. The New South Wales Bin Trim Rebates Program reimburses up to 50% of the capital cost, between $1,000 and $50,000, to small to medium enterprises that install small-scale recycling equipment to increase recycling in the workplace.
Small business grants for helping job seekers get employment and businesses to get new staff
These small business grants are designed to help businesses grow. The Northern Territory Indigenous Business Development Program provides up to $30,000 to Indigenous business owners in the Northern Territory to start or grow a business.
Government grants for expanding and diversifying
Most of these small business grants are aimed at employing people who have been out or the workforce for a while or have not been able to gain employment. The Youth Jobs PaTH program provides up to $1,000, plus insurance, to hire a young person between 17 and 24 on a trial basis to make sure they are suited to the role. If the business hires an eligible young person after the trial period, it receives $10,000.
Disaster recovery grants
These mostly apply to farms and agricultural businesses, such as those affected by drought in 2018. They include subsidies and interest-free and low-interest loans. These types of grants also cover economic upheavals such as the end of car manufacturing in Australia. The Local Fund for Industry Transition in Victoria, for example, assists Victorian businesses affected by the closure of vehicle manufacturers with funding up to $2 million. This grant covers up to 25% of the costs for eligible projects aimed at finding new markets and creating new jobs.
Small business grants for improving health and safety
These grants are aimed at improving health and safety in small businesses. Victoria’s WorkSafe OHS Essentials Program, for example, provides occupational health and safety training to SMEs in Victoria. The aim of the program is to boost workplace safety and comply with insurance requirements.
Conduct research to find the best small business grants for your needs
If you plan to start a business or are already established, small business grants and assistance can help you take your business to the next level. For more details on federal, state and local grants, visit www.business.gov.au.