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$3,000 Grants for sole traders and micro businesses

Between repeated COVID-19 lockdowns, restrictions, and natural disasters, many small business owners are doing it tough right now. This is especially true for the smallest businesses, who have disproportionately struggled to receive government grants.

That’s why COSBOA has joined forces with GoFundMe, Commonwealth Bank, and Transurban to create the Doing it Tough grant program for micro-businesses and sole traders who have fallen through the cracks.

In recognition of the number of days Victorian small businesses have spent in lockdown and in the absence of a state-government grant program targeted at sole traders and micro-businesses, the Doing it Tough grants will be limited to small businesses in Victoria.

Grants of $3,000 will be available to Victorian micro-businesses with three or fewer employees, a turnover of less than $75,000, and who have not received COVID-related government support since June 2021.

Applications will open on COSBOA’s website at 5PM on 27 September and will close on at 5PM on 11 October.

The grant program was originally born from an independent GoFundMe campaign initiated to help a micro-business based in Victoria. This person’s credentials were questioned and, after receiving a small portion of the donations, they returned the rest to GoFundMe. After offering refunds to donors, GoFundMe contacted COSBOA to distribute the remaining funds in line with their original intent.

With additional contributions from both Commonwealth Bank and Transurban, the Doing it Tough program will be able to provide even more grants to Victorian microbusinesses.

COSBOA CEO Alexi Boyd said “We’re very excited to have the opportunity to give these grants to microbusinesses who are doing it tough right now. Whether they’re struggling to pay their basic business expenses, re-pay debt from 2020 lockdowns, or are trying to pivot to make their business viable in a COVID-19 world, these grants are here to help.”

“Too many hard-working microbusinesses and sole traders have slipped through the cracks of the support programs on offer, despite being severely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. This is particularly the case in Victoria, where this year and last year businesses not registered for GST were excluded from state government support grants despite our best efforts to get this changed. We wanted to recognise the difficult situation they’re in and offer them something to help get them through.”

Ms Boyd added “The original GoFundMe campaign demonstrated just how much the Australian community wants to support small businesses. Now the people who donated to the original campaign will be able to have their money redistributed to a microbusiness or sole trader in need, in line with the original intent of the fundraiser.”

“We’re incredibly grateful for the contributions we have received from Commonwealth Bank and Transurban. It’s fantastic to see big companies demonstrating their support for microbusinesses in such a tangible way.”

Nicola Britton, Regional Manager at GoFundMe Australia, said Australians are turning to GoFundMe in times of hardship, with support for struggling small businesses rising in the past 18 months. The Doing it Tough grants will go a long way in helping sole traders, micro and small businesses falling through the cracks of traditional support. We’ve witnessed the life-changing impact donations can have on those trying to cover urgent overheads and critical expenses. The grants will help bridge a growing funding gap during ongoing lockdowns.”

On their support, Transurban said “We know that many small businesses have been doing it tough, so Transurban is pleased to support COSBOA’s campaign to assist at-needs small businesses in Victoria continue to operate through the COVID pandemic”

Commonwealth Bank’s Victoria General Manager of Small Business, Sara Sutton, said: “We know Victorian small businesses have been hit hard by lockdown restrictions and we’re committed to helping them get back on their feet and re-build. We offer a range of support for small businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic and are really pleased to extend this assistance even further through this partnership with COSBOA and the grants program.”

Key information about the grant program:

  • Grants of $3,000 will be available for eligible sole traders and micro businesses based in Victoria

  • Applications will open at 5pm on 27 September 2021 and close at 5pm on 11 October 2021

  • Applications will be made via a Google form (available on this website on 27 September)

  • Full privacy policy, publicity release form, and terms and conditions will be available when applications open

  • Successful applicants will be contacted by COSBOA

  • Payments will be made upon verification of eligibility

  • COSBOA has the sole and ultimate decision on recipients.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible businesses must:

  • Have a valid ABN

  • Have a Victorian business address

  • Be a sole trader or micro business, defined as:

  • Having 3 or fewer employees

  • A turnover of less than $75,000.

  • Not have received any government funding related to COVID-19 neither as a business nor an individual since 1 June 2021.

Application process

Applicants must:

  • Complete the application through COSBOA’s website

  • Write a maximum of 300 words on how they are ‘doing it tough’

  • Agree to the privacy policy, publicity release form, and terms and conditions.

Nominated finalists will be required to provide further information to verify that they meet the eligibility criteria. This will include:

  • FY19-20 or FY20-21 tax return or a BAS indicating an annual turnover of less than $75,000

  • Payroll report or similar verifying 3 or fewer employees

  • Bank details

  • A declaration that they have not received any government funding neither as business nor as an individual relating to COVID-19 since 1 June 2021

  • Applicants may be asked to verify spending within 6 months and provide a description of how funds assisted their business.

Selection criteria

  • An initially random sample of applicants will be drawn for review

  • Finalists will be selected based on their submission, eligibility, and 300-word description of how they are doing it tough.

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