Poots launches £300,000 Rural Social Economy Investment Scheme for NI

Northern Ireland Rural Affairs Minster Edwin Poots has announced a £300,000 capital grant scheme to help rural social enterprises increase their capacity and improve their sustainability.

The Rural Social Economy Investment Scheme aims to strengthen rural communities, improve the economic circumstances of rural communities, and help those working in partnership with others.

Announcing the grant scheme, Minister Poots said: “It is vital that we support our rural social enterprises to sustain and grow.

The social enterprise sector exerts a significant positive impact on the Northern Ireland economy. However social enterprise activity is predominately concentrated in urban centres.

“The Rural Social Economy Investment Scheme demonstrates my department’s commitment to helping rural communities and will provide an opportunity for rural social enterprises, emerging and established, to apply for a grant of between £25,000 and £50,000 to increase their capacity, potential profitability and sustainability, whilst supporting those who live in rural areas.

“This will be achieved primarily through capital investment on expenditure related to non-agricultural activity.”

Rural Action in partnership with the Rural Community Network (RCN) have been appointed to carry out animation and pre-application support for the scheme.

Assistance for potential applicants includes virtual assistance and a number of online pre-application workshops.

The scheme a pilot with the outcomes and lessons learned from it to be used to shape the development of future programmes under the Rural Policy Framework.

Is your group eligible?

The scheme is targeted at emerging and established rural social enterprises in Northern Ireland to enable them to increase their capacity, potential profitability and sustainability whilst supporting those who live in rural areas.

A social enterprise is defined by the department as a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.

To be eligible for this scheme, the social enterprise must have been trading for at least one year.
The funding call will close at 5.00pm on Friday, December 11, 2020.