Top-Up Loan Scheme deadline extended to help support more Māori SMEs during COVID-19
Applications for the Māori Trustee Top-Up Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme has been extended to 31 December 2020.
Applications for the Māori Trustee Top-Up Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme has been extended to 31 December 2020 to provide more small to medium-sized Māori enterprises with the opportunity to cover core operating costs and withstand the impact of COVID-19.
The Scheme was established in June, with $10 million set aside. So far, almost $1 million has been paid out to more than 120 Māori-owned SMEs.
The Māori Trustee, Dr Charlotte Severne, says the organisation acknowledges the hardship that many Māori SMEs are facing currently due to the impact of COVID-19, and wants to support as many of these businesses as possible through this difficult time.
“Cashflow is the life-blood of SMEs, especially right now – the COVID-19 situation is unpredictable and no-one knows how long or how far-reaching the impacts will be,” says Dr Severne.
“While some businesses may not be immediately impacted, the scheme can also be used as a contingency fund to help support them during unpredictable times – they don’t need to touch the money, but it’s there ready for them if they need it.”
To be eligible, Māori SMEs must have already received a Government Small Business Cashflow Loan administered by the IRD. They are able to apply for a further 50 per cent of that loan amount from the Māori Trustee, providing they can prove Māori ownership and meet other assessment criteria.
The loan terms are similar to the Government’s own scheme, making it simple to apply. No interest will be incurred if the loan is paid back within a year, otherwise interest will be charged at three per cent from the inception of the loan. No repayments are required for the first two years, but the loan must be repaid in full within five years.
Dr Severne says the Top-Up Scheme recognises the fact that Māori SME failure is likely to have a disproportionately negative impact on whānau because such businesses often have multiple owners.
“Māori SMEs are a fundamental expression of Māori entrepreneurship and identity,” she says. “They are a source of pride and sustain our people and our communities and we want to be able to support as many Māori SMEs as possible through this difficult time.”
The Top-Up Loans will be advanced from the Māori Trustee’s General Purposes Fund, a fund administered by the Māori Trustee for the benefit of Māori under the Māori Trustee Act 1953.
Lee-Anne Jago’s family-owned tourism business, Waka Abel Tasman, has successfully applied for a Top-Up Loan to help them get through the upcoming summer season. The business provides kaupapa Māori-based tours around Abel Tasman in a double hulled waka and 40 per cent of their clientele are normally international tourists.
“We haven’t yet felt the full impacts of COVID-19, as we were lucky in a sense that COVID-19 arrived at the tail end of summer,” she explains.
“We had a really busy summer season, so made enough to cover the generally quieter winter months.
“We still applied for the Top-Up Loan Scheme so that we could have comfort in knowing that if the situation doesn’t improve next year, the money is there, sitting in the bank, interest-free, and we have the flexibility to use it if we need to,” says Ms Jago.
“My advice to other Māori SMEs is to take the opportunity to apply for a Top-Up Loan while it’s available – things can change at the drop of a hat, and you never know when you’ll need that extra bit of help. Don’t use the money unless you need it, but have it sitting there, ready to go,” says Ms Jago.
Applications will remain open until 31 December 2020, or until the $10 million available has been entirely committed to eligible applicants. Processing times range from four to eight weeks, and once approved, loans will be paid within five working days.
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