DAERA Launches NI Rural Social Enterprise Investment Scheme

Applications are being invited by a new funding support programme for rural social enterprises in Northern Ireland.

A £500,000 capital grant scheme to help established rural social enterprises in Northern Ireland to increase their capacity, potential profitability and sustainability has opened for Expressions of Interest.

The Rural Social Enterprise Investment Scheme is a pilot scheme, provided and administered by the Northern Ireland Executive’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). Applications will be accepted from established, rural social enterprises who have been trading for more than two years, delivering projects located in rural areas of Northern Ireland. For the purposes of this scheme, ‘rural’ is defined as all those areas outside the statutory development limits of those towns with a population in excess of 5,000 inhabitants.

The focus of the scheme is primarily on capital works. Eligible projects and activities should align with the following funding priorities:

  • Improving the sustainability of your rural social enterprise – to encourage a transition to more sustainable rural social enterprises through enabling the business to increase its capacity, potential profitability and sustainability.
  • Strengthening rural community/communities – investing in social enterprises which create products and services for and on behalf of rural communities, thereby helping to create a sustainable rural community where people want to live, work, to visit and invest in.
  • Improving the economic circumstances of rural communities – enabling and supporting employment pathways, training and volunteering opportunities to assist disadvantaged or vulnerable rural people to fulfil their potential.
  • Working in partnership with others – proactively encourage new or enhanced partnership arrangements to connect individuals, communities and opportunities in rural areas.

Grants of between £50,000 to £100,000 are available, to fund up to 80% of eligible project costs.

The deadline for Expressions of Interest is 3pm on 14 November 2022.

(This report was the subject of a GRANTfinder Newsflash.)