The voice for Social Enterprises & Social Entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland. Connecting, supporting, developing and sustaining vibrant businesses to create social change.


NI Executive - Economy Minister Diane Dodds announces £40million Hardship Fund

Social Enterprise NI welcome the announcement of the Launch & Criteria for the Hardship Fund. Economy Minister Diane Dodds has today announced the launch of a £40 million Hardship Fund. This is being made available to all microbusinesses in NI, including social enterprises, comprising one to nine employees and who have not been able to avail of the existing business support schemes. The fund which is offered to those which require financial support due to the impact of COVID-19 will open in the Next 7 Days. 

It is estimated around 8,000 businesses across Northern Ireland will be eligible. Minister Dodds said

“Today I am announcing the launch of a new £40m hardship scheme to help microbusinesses.

It is targeted at businesses with one to nine employees facing immediate cash flow difficulties due to COVID-19. Invest NI will run this scheme and will publish the eligibility criteria this evening.

An online eligibility checker will open next week to enable businesses to check if they qualify.

The scheme will open within the next seven days. I hope that this will help us fill more of the gaps in support for people out there in the community.

But the greatest help will be ensuring that people can start trading again and that we have a strong economy to return to.  I look forward to a safe, gradual return to work alongside the easing of restrictions.

I have every faith in the ability of business in Northern Ireland to be agile and determined as they bring our economy back to where it should be. And I stand beside them to offer whatever support I can.

We appreciate this additional support being made available and especially that it includes social enterprises but recognise that it will be restricted to organisations with a small number of employees.  Social Enterprise NI will continue to lobby strongly for help for those social enterprises which this fund 

Please see link to the Criteria -