Rethink Ireland calls for Cork funding applicants

Cork social enterprises have been called on to apply for funding to address Ireland’s greatest social challenges, writes Padraic Vallely, Rethink Ireland’s Business Development and Political Engagement Manager
Rethink Ireland calls for Cork funding applicants

Some of the employees and management at Cork Deaf Enterprises, Ballinlough Road, Cork. Picture was taken before Covid-19. Picture: Denis Minihane.

CORK has a long history of social enterprises making a positive contribution to their community.

Organisations such as Together Razem Centre, which supports those in the Polish and Eastern European migrant community facing problems related to marginalisation, exclusion, and isolation, and Deaf Enterprises who provide training and employment for deaf people, while upcycling furniture and other products.

At Rethink Ireland, we support social enterprises who are not just thinking differently, but who are putting their ideas into practice and building a more inclusive Ireland.

Social enterprises are businesses that work primarily to improve the lives of people. Their core objective is to achieve a social, societal, or environmental impact. They often employ people who would typically be considered far from the labour market. Like other businesses, social enterprises pursue their objectives by trading in goods and services on an ongoing basis. However, surpluses generated by social enterprises are re-invested into achieving their core social objectives.

Rethink Ireland is proud to support these social enterprises to strengthen their impact in their communities.

We have partnered with companies, trusts, foundations, families, and individuals to create 30 funds tackling issues such as inequality and educational disadvantage to support over 200 social innovations. These innovations have reached 300,000 people and enabled 864 people experiencing disadvantage to progress into employment.

We are delighted to open applications for our Social Enterprise Development Fund 2021. The €3.2m Fund was created in 2018 by Rethink Ireland in partnership with Local Authorities Ireland and funded by IPB Insurance and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund. The objective of the fund is to find and back the best social enterprises in Ireland.

Pádraic Vallely of Rethink Ireland.
Pádraic Vallely of Rethink Ireland.

This year we are making €400,000 in funding available to social enterprises to help lead the post- Covid economic and social recovery. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we have all been reminded about the importance of strong communities. Social enterprises across Cork are playing a key role during these challenging and unprecedented times to support some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in the county.

In 2021, the fund will support up to 16 social enterprises with cash grants and a place on the Accelerator Programme. Cash grants ranging from €10,000 to €50,000 are available to social enterprises. The Accelerator Programme is designed to equip the social enterprises with the tools and techniques to expand their business skills and deepen their impact within their communities and across the country.

It provides training from best-in-class experts across the private, non-profit, and public sector.

Training is provided across a range of functions including impact measurement and management, financial management, business modelling, pitching, storytelling and more.

The Accelerator Programme also includes business supports tailored to the needs of each organisation such as theory of change, strategic planning and implementation.

By joining the programme, organisations will also gain access to a peer network of the best social enterprises in Ireland. At the end of the Accelerator Programme, all successful social enterprises will have the opportunity to pitch for a share of an additional €100,000.

In addition, the fund will offer the best social enterprise in each local authority where no social enterprise won a cash grant a place on their Genesis Programme.

We are calling on social enterprises in Cork City and County to apply for the Social Enterprise Development Fund. Now more than ever before due to the Covid-19 pandemic, social enterprises need to be supported. The funding can help social enterprises employ more staff and strengthen their impact by reaching more people in their communities. Cork has a strong social enterprise sector, and the funding can help the sector continue to grow and address key social challenges in the city and county.

In order to apply, social enterprises must have a clear social mission that addresses a critical social issue, generate income from goods or services and reinvest any surplus into achieving their mission.

I would encourage all Cork-based social enterprises to apply for the fund and discover the opportunities the funding can create.

The Social Enterprise Development Fund is currently open for applications until March 5, 2021.

Further details are available on development-fund-2021/

Ireland’s new social enterprise policy will enable future social enterprises to grow and thrive.

Rethink Ireland works actively with the Department of Rural and Community Development to ensure this policy turns into practical action. Europe is starting to notice that Ireland’s social enterprises are gaining momentum. Cork social enterprises are well positioned to lead this.

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