A new €1.6m fund to support social enterprises in Ireland has been established by Social Innovation Ireland (SIFI), in partnership with Louth County Council and all 31 Local Authorities across Ireland. The Fund is financed by the Department of Rural and Community Development, from the Dormant Accounts Fund and IPB Insurance.
Called the Social Enterprise Development Fund, the fund will be delivered over the course of two years and up to eight successful applicants per year will each receive a grant of €50,000 to invest in growing their organisation. In addition to the cash grant, the successful applicants will also receive a place on Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s six-month Accelerator programme. Additional places will be reserved for the most promising social enterprises across all 31 Local Authorities in Ireland. The programme is designed to help social enterprises develop their business skills and to provide them with ongoing peer support and advice so that they develop sustainable enterprises that have a powerful impact in their community. The fund is now open for applications from social enterprises in County Louth.
Launching the Social Enterprise Development Fund, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Kyne, T.D said, “The Government is committed to supporting social enterprise in Ireland. Social enterprises create jobs while also encouraging and delivering positive changes in communities across the country. Every euro that is donated in private philanthropy is matched by the Department of Rural and Community Development through the Dormant Accounts Fund. With this approach, we are helping to scale social innovation. I’m delighted to launch the Social Enterprise Development Fund from Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) and thank IPB Insurance for their vision in supporting its establishment.”
This support from the Department of Rural and Community Development for the Social Enterprise Development Fund forms part of the Minister Kyne’s focus on supporting the social enterprise sector. The Minister is also preparing a National Policy on Social Enterprise which he will bring to Government for approval shortly. Minister Kyne has recently taken responsibility for the Community Services Fund which also assists social enterprises.
Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: “Over the past two years Social Innovation Fund Ireland granted €2.475 million in supports to social innovations in education, homelessness, health and positive aging. This is our sixth fund and builds on our past successes in supporting enterprises that are tackling social disadvantage and exclusion. The Social Enterprise Development Fund will allow successful applicants to grow sustainable enterprises that are rooted in local communities and create solutions for a better Ireland. We are delighted to partner with the local authorities and their mutual insurance company, IPB, in launching this fund.”
Social enterprises tend to be set in the heart of rural and urban communities. Typically, they provide local services, such as tourism services or social services, and so jobs are created in local communities, providing an important economic impact. In addition to job creation, social enterprises create significant social impact through service provision in sectors such as childcare, eldercare, home help, recycling, and others. They play a particularly important role in areas of market failure for social services such as in rural areas.
George Jones, Chairman of IPB Insurance said: “We are delighted to support SIFI and our local authority Members in working to develop a pipeline of social enterprises nationwide. There are fantastic social ventures across the country and it is important that they receive the necessary encouragement and supports in making a real and lasting social impact. The national reach and local knowledge provided by county and city councils and SIFI will greatly assist in the successful delivery of the Fund’s financial and professional supports and promote social entrepreneurship throughout the country.”
Joan Martin, Chief Executive of Louth County Council, said: “This new fund will complement the range of supports available from local authorities for social enterprises that have a sustainable business model. The Social Enterprise Development Fund presents a great opportunity for social enterprises in the county to achieve their goals and ultimately create a measurable social impact that can be scaled all over Ireland.”
John Evoy, founder of Men’s Sheds has been appointed the Manager of the Social Enterprise Development Fund by Social Innovation Fund Ireland. The fund will be open for applications from January 24th to March 28th, 2018 and the winners will be informed in June 2018. Further details are available on http://www.socialinnovation.ie