Patrick Black of Ifac: The Leader application process itself can be lengthy but the benefits for a rural business are significant
Funding can be a major challenge for businesses that are looking to grow or diversify their offering. Ifac, Ireland’s farming, food and agribusiness specialist professional services firm, says significant support is available through the Leader Transitional programme for rural businesses based in Tipperary.
Launched in April 2021 the purpose of the Leader Transitional programme is to bridge the gap between the 2014-2020 Leader Programme and the commencement of the next EU Programme in 2023.
Leader sets out to support rural businesses seeking to reach new markets, expand, innovate and/or diversify in response to macro trends such as Covid-19 and Brexit. Alongside the wider fund, a specialised stream for food businesses is available under the Leader Food Initiative.
The Leader application process itself can be lengthy but the benefits for a rural business are significant.
For example, we recently worked with an Ifac food business client, who was diversifying their product offering, to secure €120,000 in Leader funding. While it was a detailed procedure, the funding has made a monumental difference to the business’ growth, helping to drive the business forward.
The level of funding available varies depending on the project and county in which a business is based but generally funding of up to 75%, to a maximum of €200,000, is available for capital works, consultancy or machinery upgrades.
In Ifac, we are working closely with a number of businesses utilising Leader funding to grow their rural businesses.
The types of businesses vary from established food businesses looking to expand, to start-up farm diversification projects.
Eligible businesses are those with an annual turnover of up to €10m and employing fewer than 50 people.
In most counties, Leader funding is administered by a Local Community Development Committee (LCDC).
Some LCDCs operate open calls, which means they will accept applications at any point throughout the duration of the programme. Others operate targeted calls, which means they will only accept applications during particular periods.
Having worked through the Leader application process from initial engagement through to funding drawdown with several businesses, we have identified some key learnings to help with a successful application.
If you are a rural business or a farmer with a farm diversification project in mind and would like to discuss funding, get in touch with your local Ifac office.
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