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Business Start Up Grants

If you are thinking about starting a business in the coming months you might be wondering about supports particularly grants provided by the Enterprise Agencies in Ireland. The list of organisations might seem overwhelming but it is worth taking some time to understand the type of businesses that each support and when the supports become relevant. I would like to discuss five good starting points:

(for a more comprehensive updated list of enterprise supports from around Ireland head on over here)

Business Start Up Grants

The first step is to build a relationship with a contact in your local and/0r sector specific organisation(s) – the same applies to your local financial institutions and membership associations.

1. Short Term Enterprise Allowance

gives support to people who have lost their job and want to start their own business. The Allowance is paid instead of your Jobseeker’s Benefit for a maximum of 1 year.

2. Your local Enterprise Board

provide financial assistance to manufacturing and internationally traded service micro-enterprises (employing less than 10 people). Full details of the three grant types is available from national Enterprise Boards website.

  • Priming Grant … business less than 2 years old – 50% of the investment or €80,000 whichever is the lesser (€150,000 limit in certain cases). Subject to the 50% limit, a maximum grant of €15,000 per full time job created shall apply in respect of any employment support granted.
  • Business Expansion Grant  … business trading for more than 2 years – same conditions as per Priming Grant
  • Feasibility … – 50% of investment or €20,000 in S&E region (60% in BMW)

However, the soft supports are arguably more valuable. I highly recommend attending Start Your Own Business programmes and other relevant training provided by your local Board.


support individuals, rural enterprise and farm families under the Rural Development programme. A list of all LEADER organisations is available from National Rural Network.

  • Capital and other projects to include tourist accommodation – funding of up to 75% is available for eligible projects, with a maximum of up to €150,000.
  • Analysis and development projects may receive 75% with a maximum grant of €30,000.
  • Training – 100%

Small Business Can author Helena Deane has compiled a fantastic list of ten commandments to follow when applying for Grants. In her post she stresses the importance of meeting all the terms and conditions. The Galway Rural Development website has a great guide in this regard.

4. Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland are the premier Enterprise Agency in Ireland. But their services are primarily available only to clients. They are very focused (rightly so) on businesses with international growth potential. This page outlines the process that Enterprise Ireland suggest is followed when you seek their support. The first step is to meet a Startup Advisor in your local office. Enterprise Ireland have a suite of enterprise and management development supports to include

5. Mentoring

In addition to the Enterprise Boards and Enterprise Ireland, mentoring can be requested from SCCUL Mentors and Small Business Advice.

Small Business Can author Helena Deane has also compiled a fantastic blogpost on financial supports to assist a small business to recruit new personnel.

(for a more comprehensive updated list of enterprise supports from around Ireland head on over here)

36 Responses to Business Start Up Grants

  1. John Conway March 21, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    its unfortunate that there are no grants available for a someone in the services industry.

    • Donncha Hughes March 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

      John – I must disagree. There is a valid reason why there are no financial supports for local service businesses – displacement means that jobs are created in one local business at the expense of another local business with no net positive impact for the Irish economy. There are supports available in the area of soft supports and these can not be underestimated. For example, I was involved with delivery of a management development programme in Limerick last year. It is a national programme called Accelerate delivered on behalf of the Enterprise Board. A CCTV, Security company increased employment from 2 to 5 during the programme. We will not take all the credit but the promoter certainly values our contribution to the growth of his business. With the business, the promoter is looking at developing a product that meets a gap in the market that he serves and in this case financial supports such as Innovation Vouchers and/or Feasibility become relevant.

      The other point is that there are supports for internationally traded services – and I always say ‘Don’t forget that Northern Ireland’ is international.

      • Ron Immink March 25, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

        Surely that argument applies to both service and mon-service businesses?

        • Donncha Hughes March 25, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

          It does indeed Ron. It is generally easier to ensure that there is no displacement when one is involved in manufacturing. The economies involved also generally require that the business is international in nature.

  2. Dylan Whelan October 6, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    Hi Donncha,
    I was just wondering was there currently any grants available to support construction Sub-Contractors?

  3. Keith117 December 30, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    Hi Donnacha,

    Is there any grants out there for the catering industry, I’ve just opened a 120 seater restaurant and have pumped all my capital in to start up..

    • Peter Connolly February 12, 2015 at 11:49 am #

      Hi Keith .

      did you get any response to your question as i am looking at opening a food buisness and would like to know if you were successful in getting any grants .

    • Mervyn March 18, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

      Hi Keith did you find any more about the grant for buisness

  4. Amy Guinan June 18, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Are there any grants for starting a “dog walking/pet sitting” business?

  5. Carol June 22, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

    Hi Donnacha,

    Please may I ask are there any any grants available to start up boarding kennels.rgds carol

  6. Keoghy July 3, 2014 at 1:16 am #

    Hi is there any grants to help start up a K-9 unit in Ireland

  7. Edele September 14, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    Hello are there any grants available for heating and plumbing business

  8. Government Business Grants October 8, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    A guide to grants for start up businesses . UK Trade & Investment offers funding to help exporters, as well as a range of charged-for, but subsidised, services. Business startup grants are hard to come by; here’s an overview of the new business grants available for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

  9. Ciaran November 19, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    Hi Donncha – I’ve started a hospitality business. After 5 months I got called in to my local enterprise office, was told that they agreed it was a goer and asked to drop in an updated business plan.
    After wasting a lot of my time, they never came back to me – is there anyone else a business can go to for assistance if the people in their local enterprise office are useless?

  10. Ann January 5, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    I’m about to start up my own business as a sports massage therapist. I’m 20 and only out of college. I was just wondering if there are any grants available to help me set up?
    Thanks for your help.

  11. Paddy Russell January 12, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    Hi Donnacha,

    Are there any any grants available to start up a Health @ Safety Training Business

  12. seanie February 9, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

    Hi donnacha I’m doing a domestic appliance repair course at the moment as there is no one in my area providing this service. I was hoping to open a little work shop as well I suppose there any grant I can avail of.
    Regards seanie

  13. paul February 18, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    hi Donnacha I’m thinking to open a dental milling center there any grant I can avail of. thank you

  14. Kels March 11, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    Are there any start up grants in Ireland, funding, etc, to set up a business that will hire up to 45 staff members with a huge annual profit? I’ve taken courses, got every cert there is to ensure I’m fully prepared, spent forever on an extensive product range and business plan…now my apparent super guaranteed funding has closed due to lack of investors. Any advice?

  15. david russell March 18, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

    we set up a new small buisness a few months back were on facebook as BONDI clothing and tattoo store ,we were told we would not qualify for any grants and that we would be better off closing the door and going on the dole were the exact words that were used ,we were just wondering is that the way things are thank you

  16. Born For Entrepreneurs August 2, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

    Thank You for your smart post 🙂

  17. Imelda September 3, 2015 at 11:33 am #


    I’m in the final stages of setting up a 5* luxury cat hotel (cattery!) in Kinsale and hoping to open in the next few weeks.

    Is there anything I could apply for – rural/home based/cottage industry grants?

    I’d appreciate any recommendations.


    Imelda Kelly

  18. Donncha Hughes September 3, 2015 at 9:50 pm #

    Hi Imelda

    That sounds like a superb idea and I wish you the best of luck with the Five Star Luxury Cat Hotel. Firstly, I would contact your local enterprise Office. To build a relationship with them I would participate in their upcoming Start Your Business programme (starts on 21st September This would be of benefit as most SYOB help promoters to create a plan and to understand the key components of their business. These programmes generally cover supports available for business as a topic and usually have a one to one session where the supports for your business can be directly discussed. And if you want to create a business plan they can assist with that. I understand that Leader funding in Ireland for enterprise is coming back on stream towards the end of the year. As such it would be worth talking to your local Leader body, in this case West Cork Development Partnership. WCDP would also look after the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance.
    Best regards
    donncha (the author of the post)
    p.s to everyone else, apologies for not responding – I only realised today that comments were being posted and left unanswered.

    • Imelda September 4, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

      Hi Donncha,

      Thanks so much for your advice. I have just signed up for the SYOB starting on 21st Sept in Skibbereen with the Local Enterprise Office. Very good idea to develop a relationship with these guys as you suggested.

      I will also contact West Cork Development Partnership re the Leader Programme again – I had heard about this before and have had some contact with Jean O’Sullivan at that office – that’s great news that it may be coming on stream again towards the end of this year. Is the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance the same as the Short Term Enterprise Allowance?

      Many thanks for all that – I will stay in touch …

      Kind regards,
      Truffle Lodge Kitty Care

      • Donncha Hughes September 4, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

        Thats great Imelda. Yes, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance is similar to Short Term Enterprise Allowance – but it lasts for two years. And at fear of repeating the detail of the article, mentoring is also important. Small Business Advice is very strong in Cork. I also hear good reports of the Beacon Initiative supported by the Council … . Regards, Donncha

  19. Ciara O Regan October 4, 2015 at 12:12 am #

    Thinking of setting up a catering company any grants

    • Donncha Hughes October 6, 2015 at 8:52 am #

      Ciara, if you read the article and other comments, you will see the reason that the answer to your question is most likely No. To my mind, a Catering company, should be able to set up without grants. If you have customers lined up, you should be able to raise the seed finance to get started. I know of small catering companies who rented kitchen facilities, and then got initial bank finance when they developed their own kitchen and needed to buy equipment. They were profitable immediately and started paying themselves a salary within a few months – in fairness, they had a food background so knew how to keep their cost base sustainable. As such there was no requirement for a grant. I want to wish you the very best with the business.

  20. Richie price June 10, 2016 at 9:41 pm #

    Donncha I’m now two weeks on the btwea I have organised all my funding details and I might be confused but I think I’m being told I have to wait up two eight weeks for payment processing after being lumberd with a very rough 14 week application.

    It seems I Was told to pay for the goods in full up front and claim it back does this not seem rediculous thing to ask someone who is long term unemployed

    • Donnchadh Hughes June 14, 2016 at 2:01 am #

      Richie – Well done on going for the BTWEA. It is a super scheme. Unfortunately the application process seems to be getting longer in some areas of the country. 14 weeks seems like a very long time but I presume that you were still receiving social welfare payments during that period. As such this is the first time I have heard about an eight week delay in payment processing. That would result in severe financial difficulty for anyone thinking of setting up in business as a long term unemployed person. Your second point seems to be relating to the the Enterprise Support Grant (ESG). This is a fantastic support to be able to avail of (go to Citizens Information website for the details in plain english). While I appreciate your point that having to pay for the goods in full up front and having to claim it back is difficult, I do agree with the policy. This is taxpayers money after all. Best regards. Donnchadh

  21. Prem July 3, 2016 at 7:59 pm #

    I am polish and I have boat building company in England . I thinking about move my bussines to Ireland , now I employed 10 people.I want ask if I can get any possibility of financial help for set up my bussines in Ireland.

    • Donncha Hughes July 4, 2016 at 9:32 am #

      firstly, congratulations on building a business that employs ten people – boat building must be a good market. IDA Ireland would answer your question directly. I suggest sending an email via their website… regards Donncha

  22. Michael Larkin September 17, 2016 at 8:45 am #

    hi. I’ve worked in grocery retail for over 16 years. recently I’ve thought about starting my own little business and opening a shop in my town which has a big population. the business i was thinking of opening was a gluten free/free from store selling a big range of gluten free products. over the last few years I’ve noticed how people’s eating habits have changed and are becoming more and more health conscious. in the store I manage at the moment we have seen sales of these products increase by over 300%. obviously this is a growing market and I feel there is a niche in the market for this type of business. this is where my problem starts. I haven’t a clue where to start. do I find a premises first. I don’t have much money. who kits out the business. who can help me.

    • Donncha Hughes September 19, 2016 at 10:02 am #

      Best of luck with your new venture. Gluten free products is a big trend. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to secure any financial grants to support your new venture (unless you are trading online in which case LEO have eTrading Vouchers for companies who are at least one year old). How to get started is a question outside the scope of what can be answered in comments. I suggest that you read the section on Mentoring on this site and talk to the experts- best regards Donncha

  23. Mary Cunningham October 6, 2016 at 10:29 am #

    Hello Donncha

    I am totally new to this, starting my own business teaching Art & Crafts to children and hope to move on to glazed pottery for all groups. Have invested in a small studio, but need guidance and capital to help finish & kit it out. I live in a rural area and have contacted the “LEADER” programme. Also just finished a start your own business course. So any advice would be very welcome.
    Thank you

    • Donncha Hughes October 6, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

      Congratulations on starting your own business and investing in a studio. I am delighted to see that you have contacted LEADER and finished a start your own business course. There is very little additional advice or guidance that I can offer. Depending on where business is based, a ‘pro bono’ business mentor Small Business Advice or Bizmentors could add value. There is also online mentoring offered via this Small Business Can website.

  24. Symond November 18, 2016 at 7:08 am #

    This is very much great and hope fully nice blog. Every body can easily get perfect information from here.

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