Rural Business Development Grants

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Background to Grant Programme

The Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme’s (TRPSI) Rural Business Development Grant Scheme aims to support the sustainability, survival and development of rural micro businesses across Northern Ireland by providing a small capital grant for the business. The TRPSI Programme is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and this grant Programme is administered and managed by local Councils. Guidance notes can be found at bottom of page.


Level of Grant Aid

The Scheme can provide funding of up to 50% of costs for capital items up to a maximum of £4,999. The minimum grant awarded will be £500. The total cost of the capital project must be a minimum of £1,000 and must not exceed £20,000. Applicants must provide the remaining match funding towards the project. This is a competitive process and all grants awarded will be determined on the basis of merit. 


How to apply?

Applications can be made from Thursday 1st July until 12 noon on Friday 30th July 2021 via the Grants and Funding Hub  

Late, or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

If, after reading grant guidance notes, you would like to speak to a member of staff prior to submitting your application, please contact Bridget McCaughan on 07976510924 or via email


Who can apply?

You can apply for a Rural Business Development Grant if:

  • The business is based in a rural area of Northern Ireland. A rural area is defined as an area with a population of less than 5,000 residents, plus the areas of Strathfoyle, Newbuildings and Culmore in Derry/Londonderry Urban Area (OUA) and Milltown, Helens Bay, Crawfordsburn and Groomsport in the Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area (BMUA). If you are unsure if you are in an eligible rural area, please contact your local Council office before submitting your application.
  • You are an existing, registered private Business or Social Economy Enterprise that is actively trading commercially; evidenced by providing your self-assessment number or Limited Company details and sales turnover details.
  • You have not previously received funding under the TRPSI Rural Business Development Scheme in 2019-20 or 2020-21.
  • Your business currently employs less than 10 full-time equivalent employees (based on full time 30 hours per week and part time at least 16 hours per week). *Full-time employee must work at least 30 hours per week. Part-time employees must work at least 16 hours per week.
  • You are appropriately insured or prepared to obtain appropriate insurance if awarded a grant (building,contents or public liability insurance as appropriate). No evidence of this is required at application stage, but you will be asked to confirm insurance cover at grant claim stage and provide it should your claim be selected for an audit check.
  • You have a dedicated bank account used by the business. No evidence of this is required at application stage, but you must confirm you have this as part of your application declaration.
  • You can provide a detailed specification and two ‘like for like’ quotations for each item to be purchased which meet the guidance stated in section 1.7.
  • You can complete your project before 17th December 2021. It is anticipated that grant offers will be made in October 2021. Your project cannot commence until you receive a formal offer of funding. Projects must be completed by 17th December 2021, with all works completed, onsite, paid and through the bank account by this date.
  • You are aged 18 or above at the application deadline. You may be asked to provide evidence of this at some point in the assessment process, if you are awarded a Letter of Offer.
  • Only one application can be accepted per business/ legal entity.
  • Sports Clubs and Community Groups can only be considered if they are commercially trading and generate sales revenue from selling goods and services to customers who are not exclusively Club or Community Group members. The grant can only be used to support the sustainability, survival and/or development of this commercial element, and not for the club or community group on its own. Projects that can be supported from other funding sources, such as Sport NI, are not eligible to be considered under this scheme.

 Who cannot apply?

The grant scheme cannot support:

  • Businesses based in urban areas.
  • Previous applicants who have received financial assistance from the Rural Business Development Grant Scheme in 2019-20 or 2020-21.
  • New start businesses who have yet to commence trading (all business sectors).
  • Farmers, or anyone registered to a Category 1 DAERA Business ID, undertaking mainstream agricultural activity.
  • Farm diversification projects where the diversified activity has not started trading.

What can and cannot be funded?

This is a capital grant scheme to support the purchase of new capital items of equipment or machinery or to set up an e-commerce website. The minimum spend on one, or a combination of, eligible items is £1,000 and your project must not cost more than £20,000.

Eligible Items Ineligible Items
Computer equipment, eg computer, laptop, printer. Equipment or machinery costing less than £1,000 or more than £20,000. Individual items may cost less than £1,000, but you must have a minimum eligible spend of at least £1,000 through a combination of items.
Computer software (outright purchase; ongoing license fees are not eligible). Second hand equipment, including refurbished equipment.
E-commerce Websites to allow online purchase capabilities. Servicing of existing equipment.
New equipment/ machinery. General maintenance or refurbishment works.
Covid-19 business recovery equipment, including free standing screens and hand sanitizer units (the hand sanitizer is not eligible). Capital Improvements, building works or refurbishments of any property (commercial or residential).
  Purchase of port-a-cabins, pods or any other building.
  Labour costs not directly associated with the installation of purchased equipment or build of e-commerce websites.
  Projects that have already started prior to a Letter of Offer.
  Any resource items, such as marketing materials, information websites (with no online purchasing capabilities), training courses, feasibility studies.
  Motorised vehicles, including vans, lorries, cars, boats, bikes, quads, forklifts, scissor lifts, ride on lawnmowers and any other form of motorised mobile vehicles.
  Any activity or action that is a statutory requirement of your business (eg for Health and Safety purposes such as Personal Protective Equipment) or the responsibility of another government department.
  Business running costs, such as staff costs, rent, rates, electric, insurance, stock.
  Bank interest charges, referral fees and foreign currency transaction charges.
  Consumable items used by businesses that are replaced regularly because they wear out or are used up (for example hand sanitiser, masks, gloves, visors, high-visibility vests for staff, printer ink).
  Equipment related to the provision of additional bed space for existing accommodation providers.
  Staff Uniforms or clothing, including personal protective items.

Applications should be submitted online via the Grants and Funding Hub

Download the guidance notes below for full details on scheme.

Guidance Notes for Rural Business Development Grant Scheme 2021