Startup & small business grants simplified

Business grants remain a crucial source of government funding for many South African businesses. It’s often essential in getting a new capital development off the ground, or for exploring new and innovative models to solve some of society’s toughest social problems.

Swoop funding

How Swoop can help

Step number 1

Head to the  ‘grant funding’ section of your Swoop account after entering your company information

Step number 1
Identify grants
Step number 2

See your matches

View all available grants that may be right for you, saving you hours of research time

Step number 3

Apply

We then send you directly from our grant finder through to the application page for the relevant grant provider

Step number 3
Prepare application
Continued support
Step number 4

Continually review your matches

We continue to update the tool as new grants come to the market. We recommend reviewing your grant matches at least quarterly to ensure you are up to date with the options available to your business.

Continued support

Tips for applying​

Timing. Ensure you are applying at an appropriate stage and have a clear opportunity to take advantage of. New funds open all around the year, so make sure to check Swoop’s grant finder on a regular basis for new grants you may be eligible for.

Define the opportunity and make sure you are eligible and fit the scope for the specific grant. It is easy to spend time applying for grants which are not suitable for your business.

Have a defined project and outline and highlight the impact it’ll have to align with the scope. Make your application worthy of receiving funding by ensuring you have done all the necessary preparation.

Outline the costs involved in the project and ensure you justify why they are needed and how much is needed to cover these costs.

Share your objectives clearly. Make sure you are clear what success looks like as a result of taking on a small business grant. How will you know when you’ve got there? What economic and social impact will your project have?

Outline a timeline and projections of progress expected to be achieved as these will be monitored closely if you are successful and mentioned within the scope.

Andrea Reynolds, Swoop’s CEO & Co-Founder
Andrea Reynolds
Swoop’s CEO & Co-Founder

A word from Andrea

"There’s a wide range of grants available across several sectors including manufacturing, tech, transport, energy, information and communication technologies, security, climate, aerospace, food, health, environment, and many more. Finding the one that best fits your business needs is key.

If you successfully obtain a grant, you may also want to consider grant advance funding, which is a type of loan that allows you to receive the grant value sooner, and simply pay off the balance of your loan when you receive the grant funding."

Alastair Woods

Page written by Alastair Woods. Last reviewed on November 28, 2023. Next review due March 1, 2025.

What is a business grant?

A business grant is a sum of money awarded to a business to help it grow and develop – the money could be invested in training, equipment or reaching new markets, for example. Business grants are usually awarded by the government or other companies and, unlike a business loan, business grants do not need to be repaid.

What grants are available for startups and small businesses in South Africa?

There are hundreds of business grants and government-based finance options available in the South Africa, with many aimed at specific industries, community groups or types of business. If you’re a startup or small business you’ll be able to choose from the following:

  • The IDC is a national development finance institution set up to promote economic growth and industrial development. They offer loan amounts of a minimum of R1-million with a maximum of R1-billion per project allowed
  • SEFA provides financial and business support to numerous SMEs and cooperatives throughout the country, furthering the development of existing enterprises or the establishment of new enterprises
  • SEDA is tasked with developing, supporting and promote small enterprises throughout the country, ensuring their growth and sustainability
  • The NEF is tasked with promoting and facilitating black economic participation by providing financial and non-financial support to black empowered businesses and promoting a culture of savings and investment among black people
  • The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) was established in terms of the TIA Act 26 of 2008, with the objective of stimulating and intensifying technological innovation in order to improve economic growth and the quality of life of all South Africans
  • The DTIC and its subsidiary agencies are involved in promoting economic development, black economic empowerment, implementing commercial law, promoting and regulating international trade, and consumer protection

How do I write a business grant proposal?

When writing a business grant proposal, it’s worth keeping the following points in mind:

  • Write in plain English and avoid jargon
  • Be specific about what you plan to do
  • Show how your business meets the grant qualifying criteria
  • Be clear what success looks like as a result of taking on a grant
  • Create specific aims and well-defined criteria to quantify success
  • Provide evidence that your team is capable of delivering the work, as well as a return on the grant funder’s investment
  • Make your budget as specific as possible

Writing a successful grant application is no easy task and it’s well worth your while engaging the services of a professional grant writer. Speak to our grant experts who can help maximise your chances of receiving a grant. 

How do I apply for a small business grant?

Swoop has a list of accessible grants you can apply for, whether you’re an established business or a startup. You can view the many options available to you by registering with Swoop. There’s a wide range of grants available across several sectors including grants for manufacturing, tech businesses, transport, energy, information and communication technologies, security, climate, aerospace, food, health, environment, and more. 

Alternatives to grant funding

If you’re not sure whether grant funding is right for you and your business, there are alternatives to consider, including business loans and equity finance.

With a business loan, you simply borrow a lump sum of money and then repay this sum with added interest. You can typically borrow up to 25% of your annual turnover or R10,000 to R10m or more. Lenders include high-street banks, challenger banks, online lenders and small local specialists.

Equity finance, on the other hand, is a way of raising fresh capital by selling shares of your company in return for a share of the profits, usually a share in the ownership (equity) of the business and/or a share in the running of the business. It can be a good option for new or small businesses finding it hard to get a loan.

Frequently asked questions​

No, you won’t need to repay the amount awarded through a business grant, nor will you need to pay interest on it. However, most grants will require a level of matched funding for the project.

Match funding for grants means that in order to receive a particular business grant, you will need to put up some of your own funds. Grant organisations might request match funding to give them the reassurance that you are serious about the project being invested in and that you are able to raise adequate funds to support it.

Yes you can. Although many grants are geared towards businesses that have been trading for one to two years or those that are more established, there are a number of grants specifically tailored towards businesses yet to start trading.

Yes – because you won’t be expected to repay grant money (as you would with a loan), bad credit shouldn’t be a problem.

However, it’s important to thoroughly check the general terms and criteria – such as business size, grant purpose, location and industry type – before you apply to make sure you qualify.

To make your application worthy of receiving funding, it’s important to do all the necessary preparation. As part of this, you’ll need a solid and realistic business plan with sales projections, cash flow and loss forecasts. Your business plan should be tailored for the grant you’re applying for and, if you are already trading, you’ll need to provide bank statements as evidence of your finances.

Always prepare your application as early as you can to ensure you don’t miss the deadline. It’s worth getting a second opinion from a mentor, senior colleague or expert and be sure to proofread and spell check your application before submitting it.

Cash grants are usually taxable because they are classed as a form of income. This means that once you have subtracted the relevant allowances and expenses, the sum left over will be liable to tax.

Written by

Alastair Woods

Alastair is South African and has a depth of experience in small business financing and strategy. He has led the launch and development of several successful ventures related to fintech, biotech and agriculture. Alastair studied economics and finance at the University of Cape Town, and then went on to complete his Masters at the University of Edinburgh.

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