Self-employment opportunities for job seekers under NEIS

Information on how the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) can help job seekers become self-employed business owners.

If you want to start and run a new small business, you may be eligible to participate in NEIS, delivered as part of jobactive.

A total of 8,600 places in NEIS are available nationally each year, delivered by a network of NEIS providers.

NEIS can help you become a self-employed business owner. NEIS providers offer support to turn a good idea into a viable business through:

  • accredited small business training
  • income support (NEIS Allowance—up to 39 weeks) and NEIS Rental Assistance (up to 26 weeks) (if eligible) 
  • business mentoring from a NEIS provider in your new business’ first year.

Am I eligible for NEIS?

There are two parts to NEIS eligibility.

Firstly, you can participate in NEIS if you:

  • are at least 18 years of age at the time of commencing in NEIS Assistance;
  • Are not prohibited by law from working in Australia;
  • are available to participate in NEIS Training (if relevant) and work Full-Time in your proposed NEIS Business; 
  • have not received NEIS Assistance in the past year;
  • are not an undischarged bankrupt.

If you are a recipient of some Department of Human Services’ or Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ pensions, you may be able to choose to remain on these payments while participating in NEIS.

Secondly, the NEIS provider will assess your business idea. To be eligible, your business needs to be independent, lawful and commercially viable. You cannot already be operating your business on a commercial basis in Australia.

Participation in NEIS is competitive so not all referrals can be accepted by NEIS providers, even if you are eligible.

For more details, including what sort of business is allowed, see the full list of NEIS eligibility requirements.

How do I access NEIS?

If you are interested in self-employment, you can directly approach a NEIS provider located in your area. You can find your local NEIS provider on the Find a Provider page on the jobsearch website.

Alternatively, if you have a jobactive, ParentsNext or Disability Employment Services provider, you can talk to them and they can assess if you meet the eligibility rules and then refer you to a NEIS provider.

Want more information?

  • Call the Employment Services Information Line on 13 62 68.
  • For a version of this information to print, download the jobactive—helping you to start a small business fact sheet
  • For more detailed information about NEIS Allowance, NEIS Rental Assistance, NEIS business and mentoring support, or obligations for NEIS participants, read the Self employment—New Enterprise Incentive Scheme general fact sheet

Note that call charges apply for calls to ‘13’ numbers from mobile phones.

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