Business Boost fund puts success on the schedule

Great ideas grow our economy, and they flourish with strategic encouragement and support.

With this in mind, Whanganui & Partners is providing Business Boost funding to assist start-ups and businesses with growth plans.

Applications for the economic development agency’s Business Boost open on March 29. Applicants to the funding will be assessed against set criteria and two successful businesses will receive $2500 in support towards their unique needs, and $1250 worth of mentoring or business coaching.

This is not a one-off opportunity though; Business Boost funding will be quarterly, with the next round opening at the end of June.

The funding is one stream of Whanganui & Partners’ Business Start-up and Growth Programme. This schedule of regular business support projects is designed to help local people begin, grow and rethink their businesses.

Creating a programme to help businesses grow and adapt is investing in Whanganui’s future, Strategic Lead for Business Tim Easton says.

“We have all these great ideas and ambitions forming locally, and a lot of motivated and inspired people ready to take action.

“Our job is to clear the path for them and help them navigate the challenges ahead. We know from our work with successful entrepreneurs that asking for help and seeking advice is a strength. We wanted to make that task straight-forward by creating a programme for businesses to engage and re-engage with,” Easton said.

“Based on feedback from locals who have successfully started a business over the past few years, we’ve put together a programme to give our next batch of business owners a head start.”

The Business Start-up and Growth Programme consists of four streams, each designed to assist businesses with different forms of engagement.

In addition to the Business Boost funding providing targeted financial support for those ready to grow, a ‘start-ups’ stream is tailored to help those interested in creating a new business. Eight Start-up Information Sessions will run over the course of the year, with the first scheduled for April 28.

These one-hour sessions will give insight from a successful local business owner, identify each attendee’s learning style and start-up profile, and outline the support structures available for starting out.

A third programme on offer provides regular sessions for local entrepreneurs to develop their ideas. These eight Entrepreneur Meet-ups will provide updates on local projects, introduce newcomers to the entrepreneurial space, and allow input to a start-up calendar and programmes. The meet-ups will begin on May 5.

The final stream of the programme relates to the Innovate Whanganui competition. Applications for this Dragons’ Den style competition open on April 11.  Successful applicants will take part in a ‘first pitch’ night, which will result in the Top 5 entrants being chosen.

The Top 5 will then enter a 10-week accelerator programme, beginning in June, which includes seed funding and mentorship.

The accelerator programme will culminate in the Top 5 pitching to judges on finals night in August, where the overall winner will take home $10k towards their business venture.

Amplifying the success and growth of local businesses takes many steps, Easton said. “It can be an intimidating process, but no one should feel overwhelmed. If you have a great idea, you can come to us for the help you need to make it a great success.”

You can find out more about the Business Start-up & Growth Programme here.

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