Information around small business grants not always easy to find


There are hundreds of government grants out there to help small businesses, but many find access to this information difficult.

Reza Keshavarzi has developed an environmentally friendly way to wash a car.

"We've developed a waterless technology which allows us to wash cars anywhere, anytime. We started off with a product and we turned it into an online tech platform which allows to make this product accessible."

The business, WipeHero, is like an uber for carwashing.

"So instead of you wasting your time and our precious water resources, with a press of a button we'll send someone to your house, work office or wherever you are and get it washed on the spot."

The business was self-funded, with a little help from the bank, and is less than a year old.

It has just won a $100,000 grant from the New South Wales government to assist with research and development and marketing.

WipeHero co-founder Farid Mirmohseni told SBS the building partnership grant he received supports potential high-growth, job- creating businesses.

"It was for start-ups that had an IP attached to the start up, enabling them to accelerate that growth, and mainly for start-ups that were creating a lot of jobs," he said.

"One of the components for our business is a lot of contractors which we use."

Mr Mirmohseni said winning the grant took time and a number of interviews, but accessing information about it was straight forward.

"And I kind of gave up and thought this is too hard for me as a small business owner."

"We went through a program called Incubate which is a start up accelerator at Sydney University, and through that program we got exposed to different options we could apply to for government grants."

Danielle Price ended her successful graphic design business six years ago to start a female mentoring and networking organisation called She Will Shine.

But she found it difficult to find information about federal government grants available to her.

"it was really difficult to source those grants and if I did come across one there was no contact person to talk to to ask questions and not a lot of information it was quite overwhelming to be honest," she said.

"And I kind of gave up and thought this is too hard for me as a small business owner."

An exclusive survey conducted by Sensis for SBS found only 28 per cent of small business owners think that it's easy to find information on government grants and incentives.

It found 39 per cent of owners find it hard, while one-third aren't sure.

Tim Cotter, regional manager at AusIndustry, said the government has been working to make access to information easier.

"Over the last few years in particular the government has made an effort to have all the information on grants at both the federal and state level available in the one location. So is now a one stop shop for all the information on grants and assistance that's available." screen shot

He said that assistance is also available in-language.

"We do have a really easy and quick link at the bottom of the website which enables you to change it into your local language which then gives information one translation services which are available."

An instant chat facility is also available.

Mr Cotter said not everyone receives a grant.

"If you're eligible and you're entitled to the assistance, you get the support. Whereas for other programs where they are competitive in nature and there is merit criteria, we work with those companies to give them early advice as to whether they're likely to be competitive or not."

For small business owners who are not eligible for government grants, the corporate sector may provide alternative funding.

She Will Shine's Ms Price made a pitch to her local bank.

"I was liaising with the Bendigo Bank in exchange for promotion on their site as well as social media mentions, that type of thing I was able to secure that finding."

It assisted her in growing her business, and she's since won a grant from her local government.

"For a scholarship program for female business owners in the start-up phase, that program will allow women to have access to mentoring to webinars to a support group that will be able to help them support their business for the long term."


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