This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme

Financial Support and the Go For It Programme

DATE: 19/09/19

AUTHOR: Go for it

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.



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


  • 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 Union


  • 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


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.

Invest NI

Northern Ireland Local Council Specific Offerings


Derry City and Strabane District Council

Belfast City Council

Kick Start Mentoring Programme

Causeway Coast and Glens

Enterprise Fund

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

Magenta Line Go For ItMagenta Line Go For It



James McCullough of Patterson’s Forge Hammer & Tongs

“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.”


Stacey Lyons of Wish Upon A Party                                                                                          

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.”


Sereghei Hamchevici of Ulster Concrete Pumping                                                                       

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.”