The Big Lottery Fund is today inviting rural organisations across the UK to bid for a share of £5m of funding.
The initiative is part of the BLF’s Village SOS programme, which supports ventures that revive village life.
Organisations can apply for grants worth between £10,000 and £30,000 for projects that, according to a BLF statement, will support "the brightest ideas for new community enterprises that will make a lasting difference in rural communities with a population of less than 3,000".
The announcement is timed to coincide with the start of a new BBC One series tonight called Village SOS, which shows how six UK villages have used grants of £400,000, awarded previously from the programme by the BLF, to set up new community-run businesses.
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said: "Every year, hundreds of local amenities such as shops and pubs close down in rural areas.
"The effects of this, along with limited transport options, rural isolation and lack of employment opportunities for young people, can all strike at the heart of village life.
"Through this campaign, the BLF will help people to tackle all this by bringing together support, information and expert advice on how to develop community enterprises."
The BLF is also staging a series of events across the UK providing advice on setting up community businesses.
For more details, visit villagesos.org.uk.
Read Peter Wanless' blog about Villlage SOS