More support will be rolled out for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the COVID Response and Recovery Fund, to help them adapt and innovate to deal with the impact of the virus.
The Ministers for Economic Development and Small Business have announced a further $40 million for the Regional Business Partners (RBP) Network, on top of $15 million invested since March.
“The Regional Business Partners scheme has been hugely successful since the first COVID-related cash injection of $15m. The new support will keep up that momentum,” said Hon. Phil Twyford.
He went on to explain that more than 6,200 businesses have benefitted from free advice, another 4,600 have registered to take part, and support for firms with up to 100 staff is delivered via vouchers for professional advisory services worth up to $5,000.
Regional Business Partners connect firms to expert advice at no cost to the business. Advice covers topics like business strategy, finance and cash flow, continuity planning, HR and employment relations, digital services, marketing, and health and wellness for owners and staff.
“We now have one of the most open economies in the world, but we know it remains a challenging time for businesses. We want more of them get professional advice to help grow and innovate as our economy continues to open,” noted Twyford.
The RBP Network has longstanding partnerships with NZTE and Callaghan Innovation. It offers a fast and localised way to get practical support to business, especially the small and medium firms that are the backbone of the economy.
“The funding enables the RBP Network of 1,300 registered professional service providers to deliver free business advice and training to SMEs to build their capabilities,” commented Hon. Stuart Nash.
“Professional support is in huge demand from our smallest businesses, those with ten or fewer staff. This is the same cohort of SMEs who have been most enthusiastic about other government support like interest-free loans and the wage subsidy.”
Around 60 percent of businesses who have used the RBP Network for professional support are firms with five or fewer staff. Around 80 percent have ten or fewer workers with strong interest from manufacturing, tourism, construction, hospitality, and retail businesses.
“Our message to small businesses is that we have got your back. The best way to keep up the momentum of economic recovery, retain jobs, and adapt to COVID19 is if we all work together. The RBP Network allows the government and private sector to work in partnership to help our small firms,” concluded Nash.
The new funding includes $37.25 million to directly fund the professional advisory services and $2.75 million to increase resourcing within the network. Eligibility criteria can be found at covid19.nzte.govt.nz