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Business Support Grants for Cook Islands SMEs

Thursday 18 May 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Economy, National


Grants of up to $30,000 are now available to Cook Islands businesses, as the New Zealand Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) looks to stimulate growth.

The Business Support Grants are designed to stimulate Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) growth, innovation, access to finance, and investment in social inclusion and climate action.

Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce will administer the grants, while MFAT provides the funding for them through the Business Link Pacific (BLP) programme.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Rebecca Tavioni said there had been no grants of these sorts available to Cook Islands businesses in the past 12 months.

“The good thing about these grants is that they’re targeting SMEs, which are often trying to graduate into something bigger,” Tavioni said.

“These grants will offer such SMEs a lending hand that previously might not have been available.”

Tavioni said the grants would be on a “rolling” basis, with no close date for applications at this stage.

SMEs in the Cook Islands can present proposals that meet the criteria of at least one of the following five categories:

  • Innovation: grant will be used to drive innovation within the business
  • Growth: grant will be used to drive business growth
  • Inclusion: grant will be used to increase inclusiveness within and by the business
  • Climate: grant will mitigate, adapt, or increase resilience to climate change
  • Finance: grant will be used to secure additional finance e.g., equity for a loan

Grants will be awarded based on business size and other factors. As a guide, businesses with up to five employees are eligible for grants up to $5000 equivalent, and businesses with up to 10 employees are eligible for up to $10,000 equivalent.  

Businesses with 20 employees or more can apply for grants up to $20,000 equivalent. Businesses with up to 50 employees can apply for grants up to $30,000 equivalent. 

Tavioni said the Chamber would receive help from Business Link Pacific (BLP), which is a private sector development programme funded by MFAT, and aimed at supporting the economic growth of Pacific Island countries.

Since BLP’s launch in the Cook Islands in 2020, it has administered nearly $650,000 in grant funds to over 90 local qualifying SMEs.

New Zealand High Commissioner to Cook Islands Tui Dewes also welcomed the announcement.

“It is great that Aotearoa New Zealand’s existing support to Cook Islands businesses has now expanded to include Business Support Grants,” Dewes said.

“As businesses in the Cook Islands rebound from Covid-19, this kind of support is a growth enabler, which is good for businesses and good for the economy.”