The Ministry for the Economy has launched a COVID-19 Micro-business e-Commerce Grant (MBEG) from Invest Northern Ireland. The new program will support retailers and wholesalers in Northern Ireland to establish and develop their online presence. The program offers up to 80% funding support on projects ranging from £1,250 to £5,000 to enhance their digital offering, build e-commerce capability and increase online sales.
This COVID-19 Micro-business e-Commerce Grant is part of a wider COVID-19 support package to help eligible businesses progress recovery plans, strengthen supply chains, develop new products, and access finance. This is a fantastic opportunity for any wholesalers or retailers who have been considering going online to help grow sales and to mitigate the risks associated with a further lockdown.
Key eligibility criteria for the grant are as follows:
- NI Based Micro-sized business (less than 10 employees)
- Business has been trading for at last 2 years
- Your business has physical, retail premises in NI
- Have an existing online presence such as basic website, online marketplace, or social media channels
- Have a physical product, or a range of physical products
- 50% of turnover must come from the retail part of your business
- You are not already in receipt of other public funding support for the project
- Able to complete the project within 6 months
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The ‘Eligible Activities’ listed within the program guidelines are wide-ranging. The support can be used 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.
Three key ‘use cases’ that we see at this stage are:
- Businesses who currently have no or very limited e-commerce functionality
- Businesses who have an established e-commerce function but are not making maximum use of it and have not fully integrated with their back end systems
- Businesses who are currently on a Magento 1.9 platform (which reached ‘end of life’ in May last year)
Applications are open for submission from 6pm this evening until the deadline of 12th March 2021. However, we note that the fund is currently capped at £3 Million in funding. With the maximum funding of £5,000 per business, that would mean there will only be funding available for 600 businesses so we would advise our clients to act quickly on this as we expect it to ‘sell out’ fast.
You can use the online eligibility checker to find out if you can apply for the COVID-19 Micro Business eCommerce Grant.