A £40 million fund to support microbusinesses impacted by the coronavirus emergency has been agreed by the Stormont Executive.
Funding will be available to businesses that were not eligible for grants under other hardship schemes already rolled out.
Economy minister Diane Dodds said an estimated 8,000 businesses would qualify for assistance under the new scheme.
She had flagged her intention to establish such a fund late last month.
Ms Dodds confirmed on Tuesday that the Executive had agreed to provide £40 million for the initiative.
“I am pleased to announce that the Executive has approved funding of £40 million for this hardship fund which will provide much-needed support to thousands of businesses suffering financial difficulties as a result of Covid-19,” she said.
“Social enterprises and charities will be able to access the fund if they meet the eligibility criteria.
“Details on the scheme including eligibility criteria and arrangements for applying will be released next week.
“This fund should mean that around a third of all businesses in Northern Ireland will now be able to access support under the Northern Ireland Covid-19 grant schemes.”
Thousands of small businesses have already applied for £10,000 grants through a separate Stormont fund, while companies in the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors are eligible for a £25,000 grant scheme.