Kick goals with a small business grant

Have you got big plans for your small business? From equitable sports shoes to locally-distilled whisky, we’ve supported more than 400 projects with $8.9 million in small business grants since 1996.

You can apply for a grant during our next round of funding, from 17 February to 16 March 2020. There is $500,000 in small business grants and $100,000 in business event sponsorship up for grabs.

Laura Youngson and Ben Sandhu co-founded Ida Sports to make high-quality soccer boots specifically designed for women’s feet. We provided a grant to help them on their journey.

‘Women’s sports shoes are usually just shrunken versions of men’s shoes, despite the anatomy of women’s feet being quite different, including the shape of the foot, different pressure load, and higher arches,’ Laura said.

‘Many women tell us they assumed sports shoes were supposed to be uncomfortable, and even some professional female cricketers have to open batting for Australia wearing children’s spikes.’

It may surprise you to know that soccer boots have never before been specially designed for the female foot. The Ida Sports team attributes this to structural inequalities in sport, and hopes to create significant social impact.

Laura and Ben’s journey

Starting out with no knowledge of footwear, Laura and Ben built their first prototype in Laura’s kitchen and spent 18 months in development with experts in shoe-making, podiatry, biomechanics and physiotherapy.

Listening closely to the needs and feedback of female athletes is central to their approach, and they have a captive audience, with 34 million FIFA-registered female soccer players worldwide.

‘We have a clear roadmap of how to scale up our business, but doing this on a lean budget is challenging,’ Ben said.

‘The City of Melbourne grant will allow us to take our pop-up store out to people in a more professional way, and grow the business more quickly.

‘I encourage other entrepreneurs to find some really exciting problem that you are passionate about and go for it. A grant can help you achieve your vision, and we are genuinely grateful for the support.’

Looking to the future, the Ida Sports team aims to be represented at all levels of soccer, have their shoes worn by international players as quickly as possible, and to begin working across multiple sports.

About the small business grants program

Our small business grants program supports local innovation and creativity. Startups and established businesses from any sector can apply, and we offer specific funding for social enterprises and business events.

This year, we’ve added a development category to support people to build and test prototypes, conduct trials, pilot programs and test the market to validate their proposals.

Later in 2020, we’ll run a second round of funding for small business and social enterprise grants only.

Councillor Susan Riley, Chair of the Small Business, Retail and Hospitality portfolio, said the grants programs provide an important boost to help turn great ideas into benefits for the whole community.

‘Small businesses make up 80 per cent of Melbourne’s total businesses and play a vital role in strengthening our economy and creating products and services that Melburnians need,’ Cr Riley said.

‘We’re helping fund exciting projects across a range of industries, including hospitality, technology, arts and design, heath care and education – it’s exciting to see such breadth and diversity.’

How to apply for a grant

Are you ready to make your entrepreneurial dream a reality? Guidelines, application forms and registration for information sessions will be available from Monday 10 February on our Grants page.

In the meantime, be inspired by previous grant recipients, including the smart plug that helps keep older people safe at home, the app that helps children with reading difficulties learn more independently, and some of the grant program’s biggest success stories.