Want to know more about our support?

About the programme

Aimed at businesses that have a woman in a key decision-making position, our Ambition to Grow | Supporting Women programme is looking for Northern Ireland’s most innovative and ambitious women-led businesses to take part in a competition to receive up to £30,000 in funding.

Designed specifically to help women-led micro, small and medium sized enterprises, it will provide support to create jobs and sell innovative products or services outside Northern Ireland.

Successful applicants can also build valuable connections, working with other women-led businesses encouraging shared learning and leadership development.

How can my business apply?

The call for applications will open on Monday 9 October 2023.

What support is available?

Funding will be awarded to applicants on a competitive basis with the application process explained in detail in the Guidance Notes.

A maximum of £30,000 is available for each successful applicant as follows:

  • £10,000 towards new employment within the businesses to assist with the creation of two new full-time equivalent positions*.
  • £10,000 towards business development activities at a support rate of 50% of eligible costs which can include expenditure on market, product, or skills development.
  • £10,000 on the completion of an Export Health CheckExport Marketing Plan, Innovate NI Self-Assessmentand participation in a series of Invest NI Leadership Development workshops

*Part-time roles can be supported with one part-time position of 15-30 hours being equivalent to 0.5 full-time positions.

Financial payments are not up-front and are dependent on carrying out specific activities which will be detailed in a formal offer of support to the business.

Further details can be found in the Ambition to Grow | Supporting Women - Guidelines (PDF)  and Ambition to Grow | Supporting Women - FAQ (PDF)  documents.

If you require an application form in an alternative format or further information on the competition, please contact our Business Support Team.

Is my business eligible?

To be eligible for the Ambition to Grow | Supporting Women programme, businesses must:

  • be ambitious and innovative, with a clear plan to grow sales to customers outside Northern Ireland.
  • have a product or service with a strong unique selling point to take to markets outside Northern Ireland.
  • be able to outline the potential for new employment within the business and demonstrate how these new roles will contribute to the growth of the business into markets outside Northern Ireland.
  • be able to demonstrate the need for government support for new employment and business development activities to take place.
  • have annual turnover under £1m or sales to customers outside Northern Ireland of less than £300,000.

The following businesses are not eligible to apply:

  • businesses that have received an offer or payment of grant support from Invest NI within the last five years. This excludes COVID-19 emergency funds, Economic Recovery Innovation Grant (ERIG), Innovation Vouchers or Access to Finance funding e.g. Techstart NI Proof of Concept grants.
  • businesses already in receipt of or intending to gain other government support for the project.
  • businesses that have an outstanding liability to Invest NI brought about through grant clawback proceedings. If a satisfactory repayment plan is in place, the business may apply for consideration.
  • businesses or any member of senior management within the business that are subject to a current bankruptcy order, Individual Voluntary Arrangement, Company Voluntary Arrangement, County Court Judgement, or Company Director Disqualification.
  • businesses involved in agricultural production, fisheries, and aquaculture (production and processing), steel, coal, shipbuilding, synthetic fibres, transport and its infrastructure, energy (its generation, distribution, and infrastructure), tourism accommodation, wholesale, retail (including on-line) and distribution.
  • applications which include or relate to activities that Invest NI considers as ineligible or as involving an unacceptable reputational risk, such as gambling, tobacco products and drug-based products, which are not authorised as medicines.