New Forest Rural SME Fund

The New Forest Rural SME fund seeks to support the Solent economy by providing grants to rural small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) with potential for economic growth, leveraging in private sector investment, creating or protecting jobs and assisting the rural sector.

The New Forest Rural SME Fund is a competitive fund managed by Natural Enterprise on behalf of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and New Forest District Council.  

This fund is for New Forest based rural SMEs that require capital investment to progress their project which will enable their business to expand and grow and is designed to continue the positive work of LEADER, supporting the New Forest rural economy. The first round of funding (£82,000) will be committed by 31 March 2021.

The fund is looking to support the strongest bids which return best value for money, jobs and leverage in the rural economy and generate sustainable growth.

Grants are available between £2,500 and £50,000 and need to create or safeguard jobs to be eligible.  Those projects that can create or safeguard a higher number of jobs will be prioritised. All projects must also demonstrate a benefit to the rural economy.

Grants from round 1 need to be claimed by September 2021 and jobs created by December 2022. If you believe you have the potential to grow your business or safeguard jobs, but require some extra funding to do so, you may be able to benefit from the fund.

Who can apply

To be eligible, applications must meet the following criteria:

  • The bid must be for between £2,500 and £50,000 of New Forest Rural SME support.
  • The bid needs to demonstrate it will create or safeguard jobs. Priority will be given to applications creating higher numbers of jobs.
  • The bid must raise private investment, whether through the company's own resources, investors or borrowing.  The fund can provide up to 50% of your total project costs, up to a maximum grant of £50,000.  This means the bid must lever in at least £1 of private investment for every £1 of New Forest Rural SME support.  Successful bids tend to exceed this.
  • Bids must come from a wholly private organisation such as a limited company.
  • Bids must come from SMEs from the rural sector based in the New Forest.
  • Bids must come from SMEs able to demonstrate how their project will benefit the rural areas.
  • Bids from third sector organisations, charities and community interest companies are eligible for consideration.
  • Bids must not involve the delivery of a public sector project or service.

Apply for the New Forest Rural SME grant

This scheme is being administered by Natural Enterprise on behalf of New Forest District Council.

Therefore, please direct enquiries regarding this scheme to Natural Enterprise via the web link below.

Natural Enterprise will be able to offer guidance on the eligibility of your proposed project and provide feedback on areas to consider before developing your Expression of Interest.

It is strongly recommended that you contact Natural Enterprise before taking any action to develop your application. 

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