More than five thousand Auckland businesses impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns have now received support from the Activate Tāmaki Makaurau business support package since registrations opened on 1 December 2021.
The $60m business support package announced by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Small Business in October 2021 is administered by Auckland Unlimited in partnership with the region’s business support network, and supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
Auckland Unlimited Director Investment & Industry, Pam Ford says more than $17m in business support had been allocated as the organisation helps Auckland’s regional economic recovery.
“We’re pleased to see such a high number of businesses connecting with industry experts to help navigate the challenges COVID-19 has caused, and we’re hearing firsthand the impacts this support is having across businesses throughout Tāmaki Makaurau, and the positive changes in behaviour it’s creating,” she said.
“Auckland has spent more time under COVID-19 restrictions than other parts of New Zealand, which has had a significant and compounding impact on businesses – particularly small to medium businesses and sole traders. We know Auckland businesses have had it tough and the impact is now being felt far beyond their business operations.”
Ms Ford said Activate Tāmaki Makaurau assists Auckland small-to-medium-sized businesses facing the many uncertainties and impacts caused by COVID-19 to navigate the current environment, build more resilient businesses, navigate tough decisions and seize future opportunities and productivity gains.
Auckland businesses were invited to access up to $3000 +GST worth of one-to-one expert business advice. Implementation Grants of up to $4000+GST help businesses access industry experts with the tools and know-how to put business plans, often created through previously accessing Business Advice, into action.
Arthur Crawford, owner of Meez, an online platform offering restaurant-prepared meal kits, applied for Business Advice through Activate Tāmaki Makaurau in February.
“COVID-19 has had a massive impact on the hospitality industry which has caused flow on effects for our business – we’ve experienced lengthy delays in onboarding new restaurants to the Meez platform, and restaurants that had previously committed to joining Meez have had to delay onboarding by several months as they have been struggling to manage their in-restaurant operations. Outside of this, COVID-19 also caused massive delays to the building of our digital platform,” he said.
With demand high and funding limited, registrations were closed to businesses on 17 February for Business Advice and 24 February for implementation grants. Registrations received prior to those dates continue to be processed.
Auckland Business Chamber Chief Executive, Michael Barnett said he was unsurprised by the demand from businesses for health and wellbeing support.
“We’re seeing a high demand for support around stress management, and this tells us business owners are recognising that their effective management of personal health and wellbeing is crucial to them successfully leading teams throughout tough circumstances and navigating the impacts of COVID-19.”
“The First Steps website has had over 22,000 visitors to date, and we’re able to offer these businesses not only therapy from registered psychologists, but also resources they can continue accessing on an ongoing basis, and, if they wish, share directly with their employees,” Mr Barnett said.
The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) has created the Activate Tāmaki Makaurau Business Community, an online platform enabling Auckland businesses to share and connect with other businesses facing the same challenges and operating within the same constraints, region, and industries.
EMA Chief Executive, Brett O’Riley says “Giving Auckland businesses the independence to research and access the type of support they need, at their own pace and in their own time is also an important element of Activate Tāmaki Makaurau.”
“The Business Community provides instant access to free tools, resources, and events, and provides a platform for businesses to connect with fellow businesses seeking to overcome challenges like their own,” he said.