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New Zealand Continue to Support SMEs Amid COVID-19

When it comes to business developments, New Zealand ranks first in the world in advancing these for the betterment of the country’s economy. However, in a country with over 500,000 small businesses and only a few very large businesses, the government must continue to make progress in implementing initiatives and efforts to support these businesses. This is because even a small increase in productivity can have a significant impact on the New Zealand economy. In a fast-paced world with ever-changing technology and ways of doing business, having innovative and nimble small businesses is more important than ever.

To address this, the Minister for Small Business says support for small and medium enterprises will remain an ongoing process as the Asia-Pacific region moves through response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Collectively we agreed on the need to place SMEs at the heart of our economic recovery. The APEC meeting focussed on the theme of building ‘resilience in a world with COVID-19’. He spoke.

As our pandemic response evolves, we will keep pursuing initiatives to strengthen the resilience of SMEs, build sustainable growth in the APEC region, and keep up the momentum of economic recovery.

– New Zealand Minister for Small Business

APEC Ministers want to pay close attention to the role of digitalisation in enabling effective recovery, as well as greater inclusion for women and indigenous peoples, to improve the well-being of SMEs and the people who work in them. It is acknowledged that SME owners and operators come from families, are involved in their communities, and have their aspirations and ambitions. The minister also emphasised the importance of recognising SME owners’ mental well-being alongside initiatives to strengthen their business’s financial resilience.

OpenGov Asia earlier reported that small-business owners who have been stressed out now have free access to mental health and wellbeing support. Through the Digital Boost initiative, a digital mental health and wellbeing website is providing 24/7 mental health and wellbeing support to small business owners across Aotearoa to assist the small business community. According to the CEO and co-founder of a mental health app, the ongoing effect of COVID-19 on New Zealanders’ mental health has resulted in increased mental health distress.

Furthermore, the policy levers discussed at the meeting will benefit the SMEs and help them realise their full potential as drivers of economic growth and innovation as APEC economies recover from the effects of COVID-19. As the pandemic unfolded, APEC members and global economies responded quickly to the needs of business communities. Following the August community outbreak, New Zealand has provided a wide range of financial assistance. This includes:

  • Four rounds of wage subsidies worth more than $3.04 billion, for 1.26 million jobs in 321,000 businesses, including 175,000 people who are self-employed
  • Three rounds of resurgence support payments for businesses’ fixed costs, worth $947 million across 319,000 applicants
  • Concessionary interest-free loans for SMEs, worth more than $105 million for 6,500 businesses

“Our support for SMEs has grounded in the principle that the best economic response is a strong health response. We will continue to support the sector in our COVID-19 response and recovery.” The minister added. Moreover, the government of New Zealand will continue to pursue initiatives to strengthen the resilience of SMEs, build sustainable growth in the APEC region, and maintain the momentum of economic recovery.

In addition, a new digital training, advice, and support service will enable small businesses to capitalise on e-commerce opportunities as they recover from the global economic impact of COVID-19. This Labour Government will invest $44 million over the next two years in continuing the Digital Boost – business training courses for SMEs – and providing new digital business advisory services to assist Digital Boost graduates in adopting digital ways of working in their businesses. The training, advice, and support services will be provided by private sector experts and will be modelled after the Digital Boost programme.

The Digital Boost Training Programme will aid 30,000 SMEs, and the new advisory service will assist 15,000 SMEs per year in changing their businesses. It will improve productivity and create more resilient businesses by increasing the workforce’s digital skills and capabilities.

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