You’re considering starting your own business. You’ve found your way to the Go For It Programme. What next? One of the most common questions we receive is what financial support we offer through the programme. This is a vital part of the ‘starting a business’ process. So, to help, we’ve taken the opportunity to outline as much as we can to put you on the right path.
GO FOR IT
The Go For It programme is delivered to participants at no cost. Our focus is on providing you with substantive help to take your business idea and turn it into a strong business plan. We will guide you and set you on the path to success. The programme does not provide a grant itself. Instead, we connect clients with their local business advisor, who will advise of funding options available in their area. To give clients the best possible chance at success, a strong business plan is key. Most funding sources require a thorough and fine-tuned business plan. This is in addition to financial projections and comprehensive stages for business development. The Go For It programme offers clients the guidance and support to give them the best chances of success.
Once you have clarified your business idea and completed the programme, the next step is to explore funding opportunities. We have listed some below. This is not an exhaustive list however will hopefully prove useful. Please note that no application for assistance is guaranteed to succeed. Nevertheless, our local business advisors will do everything we can to support our clients in their journey to secure funding.
Enterprise Northern Ireland Start-Up Loan Fund
- Offers 15 hours of business mentoring. Also provides loans for businesses trading for less than two years
- Eligible clients can apply for up to £25,000 repayable between 1 and 5 years at an interest rate of 6.2% APR
Princes Trust NI
- This is targeted support for 16-30-year-olds living in the UK to get into jobs, education, and training
- The programme offers a package of funding, mentoring, and practice support, including business plan workshops and financial planning
- Low-interest business loans up to £5,000 at a rate of 6.2% APR representative
- Small start-up grants are available in special circumstances
- A collection of funds providing support to NI based entrepreneurs, seed/early-stage SMEs, and University spin-outs
- Support includes a £17 million SME equity fund (investing between £50,000 and £250,000 and up to £1 million over a series of investment rounds), two University Funds of £1.5 million each (investing between £50,000 and £300,000), a £3.6 million Proof of Concept Grant Fund, and an Investment Awareness Programme
Approach your local bank to discuss your business plans. Most will offer a program for small business loans in varying amounts. Contact your local branch for further details.
- Credit Unions often provide loans at low rates to the value of approximately 3 x your savings balance within the Credit Union
- Contact your local Credit Union to enquire into the financial support available.
- Supporting SMEs and micro-businesses in NI, the programme targets manufacturing and tradable service SMEs with export potential. Offering education and support bespoke to each organisation
- The programme supports business-to-business partnerships with benefits including up to Euro 7,000 to complete a feasibility study, and a grant of 50% of eligible funding capped at Euro 150,000
- Catalyst provides sources for fund-matching for innovation companies
- The programme anticipates relevant companies would be looking to raise upwards of £500K
Ulster Community Investment Trust
- Provides loans exclusively to Community organisations, charities, and social enterprises (large and small) located in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
- Finance is available for buildings and equipment, working capital, cash shortfalls, bridging finance against delayed grants or other confirmed income and restructuring of debt
- UCIT loans typically range from £25,000 – £500,000
Michelin Loan Fund
(Available to Co Antrim area, excluding Belfast)
- Supporting businesses in the manufacturing, engineering, or services sector, employing less than 250 people. Funding should go towards job creation and businesses must be located in Ballymena.
- Offering unsecured loans from £5,000 through Michelin’s associate bank at a subsidised interest rate with a repayment period of three to five years.
- Provides a range of funding solutions under the banner of ‘Access to Finance’ targeted at ambitious SMEs whose growth is constrained by a lack of traditional finance.
- With funding of almost £200m, there are seven funds spanning £10K – £3m also offering support to SMEs across both debt and equity markets.
Northern Ireland Local Council Specific Offerings
Derry City and Strabane District Council
- Offering business support to startups from Business Boost Programmes via the 10K Business Start-Up Challenge
Belfast City Council
Kick Start Mentoring Programme
- Offering mentoring, workshops, and financial incentives
- Financial incentives up to the value of £1500 are available for eligible businesses
- Incentives are flexible and reviewed on a case-by-case basis
- The financial award is aligned with the growth needs of the business
Causeway Coast and Glens
- An annual grant aiming to support new businesses with a track record of 2 years or less, to address barriers to growth via innovative approaches
- Sector-specific fund
- Grants of up to £10,000
Armagh City, Banbridge, Craigavon Borough Council
- A local action group working to offer grants via the Rural Business Investment Scheme
- The fund has the purpose to increase economic activity and employment rates in the rural economy through supporting the creation of micro and small businesses in the rural economy
- Support and amounts awarded to businesses may vary
WHAT GO FOR IT PROGRAMME CLIENTS SAY…
“This business plan and financial forecast allowed me to approach the National Trust with the idea of renting an unused workshop at Patterson’s Spade Mill that would give me a historic setting to pass on my knowledge and experience of this traditional skill.”
Jenine McIlroy, Business Advisor at Ballymena Business Centre, on behalf of Mid and East Antrim and Borough Council, said: “We worked with James to develop a business plan, focusing on key areas such as defining his service provision, marketing, and financial forecasting. This gave him the necessary paperwork and confidence to approach the National Trust and secure Patterson’s Spade Mill as the perfect workspace.”
Rodney Malone, Business Advisor with Fermanagh Enterprise on behalf of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council said, “We worked with her to develop a business plan and focused her goals on key aspects such as financial planning, marketing strategies, and food hygiene. This helped Stacey to secure a small business loan, which provided her with the financial support needed to get started and make her dream a reality.”
Jim Eastwood, General Manager of Cookstown Enterprise Centre on behalf of Mid Ulster District Council said: “Serghei knew exactly what he wanted to do and the equipment he needed to make it a success. Business Advisor, Shauna Rooney, mentored him in preparing a business plan, focusing on areas such as market research, financial planning, and marketing.”
“This provided him with a clear plan for the future and helped him secure the necessary Enterprise Northern Ireland loan that transformed his vision into a reality. It is fantastic to see Serghei’s business grow and thrive and we wish him every success for the future.”