Recently we’ve been updating the profiles of Alumni to detail how their projects developed after their time with SEI, and where they are now. Many are still involved in their original projects, while others achieved what they intended and moved on to other things. Some projects however encountered difficulties with sustainability, and did not achieve their original goals.
Success and failure go hand in hand, but the latter is not often something we are willing to talk about or share. It should be. When something does not go as planned, it presents a huge learning opportunity to all involved, and is only worth nothing if it is not shared.
The thing to note here is that regardless of outcomes, none of these enterprises should be classified entirely as a failure, at least not in the usual sense. A for-profit business measures its success in terms of the continuous creation of capital; if it fails to do this and does not keep up with competitors it goes out of business. The measure of success with a charity or social enterprise, in contrast, is its social impact and what it manages to achieve, regardless of how long it stays in operation or how much money it happens to make. Wealth creation is of course a part of social entrepreneurship, but more as a means to an end, which is to create a sustainable enterprise that accomplishes predefined social goals.
Regardless of whether or not Alumni projects had the impact hoped for, they took a chance at trying to make change happen in Ireland, and that has value in itself. People enjoy success stories, and there is no doubt that they can provide a source of motivation. However, it is the stories where success only came after a number of failures, and where the very definition of success changed along the way, which can inspire.
At SEI, we acknowledge the risk of failure as inherent to the process of supporting social entrepreneurs. The success rate of Alumni projects from the Elevator Programme is generally about 55%, while that of the Impact Programme is about 80%. If you want to support the ideas that excite, the ideas that change Ireland and the ideas that really have the potential to make a huge difference, you have to put up with the reality that not all of them will succeed. We as a sector should make every effort not to hide away from that, as it is a natural part of the social entrepreneurship narrative.
By sharing failure, we all stand to gain from the perspectives of similar people working towards common goals. If we do not tell these stories, we might mistake the world as being made of shining stars much more capable than we perceive ourselves to be, rather than the reality of a rich landscape of many talented, inspired individuals who are earning their success one failure at a time.
Applications Now Open for €600,000 Awards Programme
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny encourages social entrepreneurs to apply
Do you or someone you know have a great idea to change Ireland for the better? We have €420,000 in cash plus in-kind supports worth €180,000 available to Ireland’s leading social entrepreneurs. We are looking for innovative ideas and new solutions to some of Ireland’s social and environmental problems.
The Awards consist of two separate programmes of support; the Impact Programme and the Elevator Programme. Together these programmes cater for projects at various stages of development. The deadline for applications is Monday 28th April at 5pm.
We were delighted to have An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny launch the 2014 Awards. At the launch he said: “Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is a dynamic, innovative organisation which empowers people from all over Ireland to make a real difference in their community and beyond. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank SEI for their contribution to Irish society over the last ten years and to encourage people to apply for the 2014 Awards.”
This year we are holding a number of Information Evenings across the country. See the links below for full details of the roadshow and to register for your local event.
Full details of the application process, eligibility criteria and an overview guide can be found online at www.socialentrepreneurs.ie
Help us spread the word by tweeting the following
Twitter : €600,000 in support available for social entrepreneurs in Ireland from @SEIreland, apply here http://bit.ly/SEIawards #SEIawards #socent
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