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$30,000 boost available to innovative business - Top Energy

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Do you have a bright idea to enhance your business that will also help grow the Far North economy?

Do you need funding to make it happen?

Applications are now open for the Top Energy Business Development grant for 2021. With $30,000 up for grabs, Chief Executive Russell Shaw is encouraging all budding and established entrepreneurs in the Far North to "take up the challenge and realise your own business potential".

Since 2014, Top Energy has given out $450,000 in grants to existing businesses with innovative ideas that have the potential to grow or diversify our Far North economy. We spoke to many of the previous winners to see how the fund helped transform their business.

To Graeme Fleet, owner of Bonze Lures and the first ever grant recipient, it made a huge difference.

"We were able to fast-track our business plans, investing in machinery to speed up our labour-intensive production process, and buying stock and employing an extra person to meet increasing market demand." They’re now reeling in customers from overseas and have plans to expand offshore.

Jonny Martin, owner of Paihia Mountain Bikes and winner in 2017, shares a similar story.

"The cash injection into the business accelerated our growth. It meant we didn’t have to wait another summer to shift our shuttle service and hire operation to the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park, or expand the bike servicing and repairs side of our business."

2018 winner, Karin Carlyon says Offshore Cruising Tenders has gone from strength to strength thanks to the grant.

"We used our grant to buy better manufacturing equipment, and to increase storage capacity on site so we could buy materials in bulk. Our aim was to save money, cut the stress of supply issues with timing and costs, and plan for the future more accurately. And we would build more, better quality boats in a safer environment." 80% of what they make goes offshore.

For exporter of dried Kiwifruit snacks, Kiwi Bites it gave the business a much-needed boost.

"Winning the Top Energy Business Development Grant in 2016 gave me the boost I needed. I could finally buy the commercial cutting machine I needed, employ staff to help in the shop and complete trials with other fruit. I overhauled my marketing, redesigned my packaging to be completely recyclable and went off to Hong Kong to present Kiwi Bites. It’s now my main market."

2014 winner Top Trail Hire and Tours was sold in 2020. Former business owner Ray Clarke said the Fund couldn’t have started at a better time.

"We were growing rapidly, and all our revenue was being ploughed back into the business. The grant made it possible for us to move our operation away from our home and into a permanent location, closer to the Trail."

"And the way we saw it, was everyone on the trail would benefit, not just us. The cafes, accommodation providers, other tour operators. Opportunities to help one of us grow, would help all of us to grow. And that’s what the Business Development Fund was all about."

One thing that all previous winners agreed on was the application process itself was a great learning experience. A vehicle for business planning and getting from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow.

To see your idea come to life, apply for Top Energy Business Development Fund at Applications close 8 October 2021.

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