A new £3 million fund to help retail micro-businesses in Northern Ireland looking to grow their business online has been announced.

The COVID-19 Micro-business E-commerce Grant (MBEG) is open to any micro-sized retailer that wants to prepare for growth, develop their customer base and find new markets by enhancing their digital offering, building e-commerce capability and increasing online sales. The scheme was developed and is operated by Invest Northern Ireland.

The COVID-19 Micro-business E-commerce Grant opens for applications at 6pm on Tuesday 2 February.

What is available?
Businesses can access up to a maximum grant of £5,000 to support 80% of eligible costs (projects must have a minimum of £1,250 of eligible expenditure).
Eligible activities include the services of a supplier(s) providing expertise to:

  • Review current digital marketing capabilities and online sales channels.
  • Develop a digital marketing/e-commerce strategy to drive sustainable growth in online sales.
  • Implement an enhanced online e-commerce system or improvements to your existing e-commerce solution for the business.
  • In-house training and knowledge transfer to develop the digital marketing and e-commerce capability of the employees for the business.
  • Improve integration and automation with existing e-commerce systems.

The grant will be issued to eligible businesses on a first-come-first-served basis. Invest NI recommends that you make a timely submission as the grant will close to applications, either:

  • When the available budget is fully allocated: or
  • On the closing date of 6pm on Friday 12 March 2021, whichever comes first.

Eligibility
As a micro-sized retailer, you are eligible if:

  • Your business operation is based in Northern Ireland.
  • You are a micro-sized business, trading at least two years and employing less than 10 full-time equivalent staff in Northern Ireland.
  • Your business has physical, retail premises in Northern Ireland (e.g. high street shop, sales/trade counter, etc).
  • If your business is not exclusively retail then more than 50% of your turnover must come from the retail part of your business (i.e. you are not primarily a manufacturer or producer, etc).
  • Your business has an existing online presence such as a basic business website, online marketplace or social media channels.
  • Your business has a physical product, or a range of physical products, that can be sold online and shipped to customers.
  • Your project is not receiving any other public funding such as government or European Union funding.
  • You are able to complete your project, pay your supplier and make a claim within the next 6 months.

How to apply
The COVID-19 Micro-business E-commerce Grant opens for applications at 6pm on Tuesday 2 February.
You will be able to use an online eligibility checker to find out if you can apply for the grant.

Full details on criteria, eligibility and Guidance Notes on how to apply are available on nibusinessinfo.co.uk/mbeg

To find out if you are eligible to apply please complete the Eligibility Checker 

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