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Rural Affairs Minster Edwin Poots MLA has announced a £300,000 capital grant scheme to aid emerging and established rural social enterprises to increase their capacity, potential profitability and sustainability.

The Rural Social Economy Investment Scheme aims to improve rural social enterprise sustainability; to strengthen rural communities; to improve the economic circumstances of rural communities; and to work 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.”

DAERA has appointed Rural Action in partnership with the Rural Community Network (RCN) to carry out animation and pre-application support activities. Assistance for potential applicants includes virtual assistance and a number of online pre-applications workshops.

The details of the Rural Social Economy Investment Scheme including how to access pre-application support are available on the DAERA website at: www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/rural-social-economy-investment-scheme

Applications close at 5.00pm on Friday 11 December 2020.

The Rural Social Economy Investment Scheme is a pilot and the outcomes and lessons from this Scheme will contribute to the development of a future programme under the Rural Policy Framework.