Northern Ireland Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots has launched a £1 million fund to help the sustainability and development of small rural businesses.

The 2021 Rural Business Development Grant Scheme can also be used to assist businesses in their recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The minister made his announcement during a visit to ‘All Blinds and Curtains’ in Ballinderry, Lisburn, Co. Antrim.

Owners Neil and Suzi Bacon submitted an application to DAERA’s 2020 Rural Business Development Grant Scheme through the Department’s delivery partners Lisburn City and Castlereagh Borough Council for a vertical blind louvre cutting machine.

The purchase of a cutting machine has enabled the business to move from manual cutting and be more competitive with regards to pricing for prospective trade suppliers, thus considerably developing the business.

Rural Business Development Grant Scheme

The Rural Business Development Grant Scheme is delivered in partnership with the 11 rural district councils, with the focus this year on penetrating and supporting those businesses most in need and those that have not benefitted from the scheme in the past two years.

The Rural Business Development Grant Scheme 2021 is one of a number being delivered under DAERA’s Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) initiative and provides a capital grant of 50% up to a value of £4,999 for rural micro-businesses to bring about improvements towards recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as enhancing sustainability and providing development opportunities for rural businesses.

Minister Poots added: “Covid-19 has hit Northern Ireland’s business community hard and micro-business owners, particularly in rural areas, have been impacted by a downturn in trade.

“The benefits of this scheme are two-fold in that the grant aid helps the rural businesses to develop and grow, but also in the majority of cases the items purchased are secured locally and hence this is a further boost for the Northern Ireland economy.

“This scheme, along with the support that is currently provided to rural businesses through my department’s NI Rural Development Programme, Rural Business Investment Scheme, the Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme and the Micro Business Growth Pilot Scheme are vital in playing a key role in supporting, sustaining and indeed growing the development of rural businesses across Northern Ireland.”

How to apply

Applications to The Rural Business Development Grant Scheme 2021 open on July 1, 2021, and close at noon on July 30, 2021.

The scheme is open to rural micro-businesses which have not received a grant in the 2019 pilot or the 2020 scheme.

Guidance notes, application forms, and further advice are available on all of the council websites.

More information can be found on the DAERA website.