LEADER Rural Development Fund
LEADER Rural Development Fund


Support for micro/small and start-up businesses and farm diversification

Funds under this priority will be used to provide grants for:

  • Developing or starting a rural micro or small business
  • Farm diversification projects (for example, contracting services)

Who can apply?

  • Micro or small businesses based in rural locations including social enterprises
  • People who want to start a business that is in an eligible rural area
  • Farming businesses that want to diversify (expand into non-farming activities)

Grant limits

The minimum grant amount is £6,000, which means a minimum spend of £15,000.

The maximum grant amount is €200,000 under deminimis state aid rules* or 40% of the project's eligible costs, whichever is the lesser.

A maximum grant rate of 100% may be available for investments which are non-profit making operations that will not generate an economic gain.

Maximum grant rates for people who are not farmers, horticulturalists or landowners, who would like funding to process or market agricultural products are 20% for micro and small businesses and 10% for medium businesses.

State aid rules

*De minimis state aid regulations mean that a maximum of €200,000 is available to any one applicant in any 3-year period.  If an applicant has had other public funding this may count towards the de minimis aid amount and reduce the amount of money they can apply for from LEADER.

What is eligible?

Grants can be used for:

  • Starting a new business
  • Construction costs or establishment costs for workshops, factories, premises and facilities
  • Purchasing equipment (not consumables)
  • Processing and marketing of non-agricultural products
  • Processing and marketing of agricultural products
  • Social service provision
  • Developing craft and handicraft activities
  • Setting up an IT business
  • Leisure, recreational and sports activities

Costs could include:

  • Construction or improvements to immovable property
  • The purchase or hire purchase of new or second-hand machinery and equipment
  • General costs such as an architect, engineer and consultation fees (restricted to a maximum of 15% of total project costs)
  • Intangible investments including acquisition or development of computer software
  • Acquisition of patents, licenses, copyrights, trademarks.

A full list of ineligible costs can be found in the applicant handbook on the how to apply page