Business Support

Business Start-up Support

Go For It Programme

The Go For It Programme is run in association with our local council Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and provides you with free 1-1 business mentoring which will assist you with developing a business plan. A business plan is a written document that describes your business. It covers objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts.
A business plan helps you to:

·         clarify your business idea

·         spot potential problems

·         set out your goals

·         measure your progress

·         access finance to start and grow your business

To be eligible for Go For It you must be either:

·         At the pre-start stage of starting your business


·         Within the first 6 months of starting your business

To register your interest in this programme please email

Go For It is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs in Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.


Visit the Go for it website –



Business Funding Options

Loan Funding for new and existing businesses

  • Start Up Loans
  • NI Small Business Loan Fund

For more information on both start up loans and small business loans please see

Business Growth Programmes

The Optimal Programme

Cost: FREE

Business is hard; this past year has been even tougher than normal.  But whilst your business has faced unprecedented challenges, you’ve also adapted to survive and keep going.  And we want to support you.  If you have less than 50 full-time employees and are based within Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council area, the Optimal business growth programme offers support through mentoring, workshops and networking. This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.
The Optimal programme is for small and medium sized businesses and social enterprises within the Borough.

What is the Optimal Programme about?

  • Supporting the creation of new, sustainable jobs in Antrim & Newtownabbey;
  • Helping businesses recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting them to sustain existing jobs;
  • Referring businesses to Invest NI for financial support;
  • Strengthening the local business base by helping businesses become more competitive in home and export markets;
  • Promoting business growth and innovation;
  • Providing accessible, tailored business support;
  • Promoting networking between businesses within the Borough;
  • Engaging with key business support stakeholders to develop a portfolio approach to business support in the council area, ensuring that there is no duplication of effort.

How Can Mentoring Help My Business?

Mentors are available right now to help your business or social enterprise.  They are selected based on your business needs to enable them to share the advice, skills and knowledge that’s right for you.  Mentoring isn’t the same as training – instead of learning the theory of what works, a mentor will meet with you (virtually or in person) with specialist knowledge to work with you and your business.  They bring their experience from a range of specialisms such as digital, export, marketing, finance or HR and governance.

How Will Mentoring Take Place?

Mentors can arrange sessions flexibly around you so you can focus on growing your business while you work.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, mentoring will initially be virtual, so it’s more convenient than ever to fit into doing business. If and when restrictions change, you will have the option to switch to face-to-face meetings, stick with virtual or a combination of both – whatever you’re comfortable with.

Similarly, our series of business workshops will offer learning across 6 different areas: digital, export, social enterprise, sales, general and sustainability. These will also take place virtually at this stage, but will still be interactive and engaging.  You don’t have to take part in the mentoring programme to attend these workshops, so you can still benefit from guidance and advice with the added benefit of networking with other local business owners who are facing the same challenges as you.

The Optimal Programme is part-funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland Programme.

Who Can Apply?

Small to medium sized businesses or social enterprises with less than 50 full-time employees and a registered business address in the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council area.

Apply now

To discuss support for your business and the Optimal programme, contact Sara Thompson on T. 07799 533 876

YES YOU CAN Explore It Programme


The Yes You Can 'Explore It' initiative is delivered throughout Northern Ireland by Women in Business . Explore It is designed to support you in turning your idea into reality. You will be supported through 3 one-day workshops, 3 evening meet ups and up to 8 hours of buddy support from an experienced female entrepreneur. 


  • Females with an idea for a business
  • Early stage start Up


You will be one of a group of 15 women who will be encouraged to work together on their business ideas.

  • You will attend 3 one-day workshops that will cover getting started, marketing/selling and finance/operations.
  • You will also be offered the opportunity to take part in 3 evening sessions with role models who will help you to problem solve.
  • In addition to workshops, individuals will be allocated a Buddy who supports them through meetings, telephone calls and online communication over 3 months. You can avail of up to 8 hours of buddy support.


Explore It will be delivered throughout Northern Ireland

Download the Yes You Can 2021 brochure and apply for Explore It TODAY

Individuals will be notified if their application has been successful 2 weeks prior to the commencement of the first session.

When applying for Explore It please check delivery dates in your area here.

**Please note you must be available to attend each session,.

For any enquiries please contact

Exploring Enterprise Programme

The Exploring Enterprise Programme is a free special support initiative aimed at helping unemployed or economically inactive individuals improve their employment prospects as well as exploring potential self-employment opportunities.

The course provides one-to-one tailored business mentoring support, with the opportunity to work towards achieving an accredited QCF Level 1 Qualification in Understanding Business Enterprise.

Participants will get the opportunity to visit local businesses and work as part of a team to develop business skills and knowledge.

This is an Enterprise Northern Ireland initiative which is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020, the Department for the Economy, Local Enterprise Agencies and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

For more information on the Exploring Enterprise Programme please contact Mallusk Enterprise Park Ltd on 028 9083 8860 or email