Business Support in the Wake of COVID-19

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October 01, 2020

At Chorus, we’re big believers in the value of businesses “going more digital” to boost productivity and competitive edge. Key to that is having fast, reliable internet – a major reason why our world-class fibre network was built in the first place. But right now, we recognise that for many businesses the focus is more on how to just survive rather than thrive.

For some teetering on the edge and questioning the viability of continuing to operate, it’s just about getting some money through the door. To assist, we’ve been working with our buddies at Digital Journey and compiled a list of publicly available support measures to help you get through.

It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to finding the right assistance, but thankfully lots of business support can be found online. Here’s where:

Government funded COVID-19 financial relief

Paying employees that can’t come to work

The Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme is available to all employers, including sole traders, to help them pay employees who can’t come into work due to COVID-19 restrictions—for example, they are required to self-isolate—and they are unable to work from home.

Immediate cashflow relief

The Small Business Cashflow Loan offers immediate financial support in the form of a one-off loan of up to $10,000, over a five-year term. In addition, no interest will be charged if the loan is repaid within the first year.

This scheme is open to all SMEs and sole traders who employ less than 50 full-time equivalent employees, and applications have been extended until the end of the 2020.

A break from debt

The Business Debt hibernation scheme allows businesses struggling with debt to arrange for reduced repayments with their  creditors for up to seven months—though debts will still have to be paid back in full over time.  

The Business debt hibernation decision tool helps businesses understand their options. Unfortunately, this initiative is not open to sole traders.

Grants and funding

Support for research and development

Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand’s innovation agency, offers advice and different levels of financial support for businesses in the R&D sector:

  • The R&D Loan Scheme enables businesses impacted by COVID-19 to apply for a loan of up to $400,000.
  • A tax incentive (RDTI) allows loss-making businesses to apply for their 15% R&D tax credit to be refunded in cash.
  • A range of grants are available to help fund new projects, students, and business expansion.

Support for recovery and growth

The Regional Business Partner Network connects businesses to a range of resources and funding—whether it be to assist in a time of need, or to help build capability. Their growth advisors offer personalised support, and they provide the following funding: 

  • COVID-19 Business Advisory Funding—gives SMEs up to $5,000 towards expert advice from certified providers in a range of topics from HR and health and wellbeing, to finance management and digital capability.
  • Tourism Transitions Fund—similar to above, but this time targeted at businesses within the tourism sector.
  • Management Capability Development Fund—offers up to 50% co-funded support towards the development of managerial skills, from one-to-one coaching, to training seminars.

Advice for support and growth

Keeping exporters in the loop

With global supply chains under intense pressure, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) continues to monitor current restrictions and provide the export/import industry with accurate information. Their website covers a range of topics, from how to manage staff wellbeing and international travel, to freight and logistics, to how to stay connected with foreign markets and more.

Maori Business growth

Te Puni Kōkiri’s Business Growth Scheme aims to support newly emerging Māori businesses and those that are seeking to grow. It provides free advice, and helps to connect businesses with relevant one-on-one advisory services.

Personalised help in challenging times

Business Mentors New Zealand provides up to 12 months one-on-one advice for small business who are struggling with specific business challenges, are just starting out, or want to define and develop their growth pathways.

A wealth of personalised business information

 Kiwi Business Boost is a free online tool that targets a business’s current needs and then provides them with relevant tools, resources, and events. They cover a range of topics—from people management and environmental sustainability, to the depths of Covid-19 health and safety issues.

Tailor-made action plans for digital expansion

Get Savvy is an online assessment tool designed to help businesses grow their digital capabilities. They offer free, personalised action plans that cover cybersecurity, how to make the most of digital tools, and how to manage an effective online presence.


And finally, do the prep

These are unprecedented times, matched by unprecedented levels of business support. If you find yourself reaching out, ensure you get the right help for your business by arming yourself with as much accurate information as possible. This means getting to grips with your current financial situation and brushing up on your business plan!


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