New Business Development Programme About To Start

  • Peter McCardle
Business Development

The new business development programme is shortly to get underway, Business Development Minister Peter McCardle announced today.

The Ministry of Commerce, which will manage the programme, is currently negotiating final details with 47 groups to deliver the BDP nationwide. Contracts have already been signed with 10 of them. It is expected that the remaining providers will be signed up by the end of February, after which there will be a formal launch. The providers are not being named publicly until the process is complete. Each was chosen from a large number of proposals submitted late last year.

Mr McCardle said: "The Business Development Programme is aimed at helping small-to-medium size businesses grow by improving the quality of their management so that they will make better decisions, which is a key need. Most of the groups delivering the services will operate regionally, while others will operate nationwide.

"The first of these ventures will be up and running within a matter of weeks, with the rest commencing soon after. The Government is providing the funding of over 12 million dollars per annum, " Mr McCardle said. "The range of services will include business training, seminars, networking, and advisory support, as well as other strategies which will originate locally.

"This strategy is part of an international trend of moving away from providing subsidies to individual businesses, to strengthening larger numbers of businesses through generic management improvement. The BDP is one part of the Government's approach of supporting and upskilling businesses, and thereby growing the economy.

"Alongside the BDP the Government will be introducing a new easy-access information service. It will give businesses one-stop access to all the help and information initiatives available to them, something which has been lacking until now. It will operate from offices at sites around the country, and will also be formally launched in March.

"The new BDP replaces the Business Development Boards, which used to provide individual grants for specific projects, and ceased operating at the end of last year. Under the new approach, the spread is wider and more businesses will get helped. It is extremely important to give cost-effective help to small and medium size ventures because they provide most of the jobs and much of the wealth produced by the economy.

"We are particularly eager to help Maori, women and Pacific communities develop high quality businesses, and they will be a major target of the new programme.

Many of the providers we are negotiating with have clearly targeted these three groups, and include Maori groups specifically targeting Maori. But that guideline is not exclusive, and we want to assist small to medium size businesses from all sections of the ommunity," Mr McCardle concluded.