Business enterprise centres and registered business organisations have been invited to apply for funding of around $100,000 per annum over two years, under a tender for the Small Business Advisory Services program.
Small Business Minister Brendan O’Connor has confirmed eligible service providers can now apply for funding under the Small Business Advisory Services program, which is currently delivered by the Business Enterprise Centre network.
The network, which has 97 locations across Australia, dispenses the advice to entrepreneurs in one-on-one mentoring sessions.
In this year’s federal budget, the Federal Government said $27.5 million is being provided to extend the program over the next four years, with a tender set up to pick the best supplier of the service.
According to a spokesperson from the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, the budget was framed around “fiscal responsibility”, and this program is an example of that.
Applicants have the opportunity to secure funding of around $100,000 per annum over two years under the program. Applications will be assessed through a competitive, merit-based process.
The funds are designed to help service providers provide quality advice and assistance to small businesses across the country.
The government says that small businesses will benefit from the program by gaining access to a range of businesses advisory services, including:
- Business and marketing planning.
- Leasing guidance.
- Legal and accounting advice.
- Loans and banking advice.
- Information on government regulations.
“The Small Businesses Advisory Services program has [already] provided over 354,000 separate business advisory services to more than 187,000 small businesses,” the spokesperson says.
“A 2011 review of SBAS found that the program is well regarded among stakeholders, and is having a positive impact on small businesses.”
“Almost 90% of surveyed program participants would recommend this type of program to other small businesses.”
According to the spokesperson, all applications from eligible applicants will be assessed against the merit criteria.
“Applications that meet the requirements of these guidelines and each of the merit criteria to a high degree will… be considered for funding support,” the spokesperson says.
“The application will be used as the only basis for assessment against the merit criteria.”
“Consequently, applicants need to answer all questions as clearly and succinctly as possible and, where necessary, provide evidence to support their claims.”
The spokesperson says it’s ultimately up to the minister to decide which applicants will be funded, the level of funding offered and the conditions of any funding offer.
“Applications must be focused on providing business advisory skills for participating small businesses, and those who intend to start or have purchased an existing small business,” he says.
“Applications must be practical and be oriented towards action learning for participants to build business skills and/or organisation capability, and may include mentoring.”
According to the spokesperson, successful applicants will need to sign a funding agreement, which sets out the conditions that apply to the funding. These include but are not limited to:
- The submission of progress reports through the funding period and at its completion.
- Maintenance of insurances (including professional indemnity for an amount no less than $3 million per claim) for the period of funding.