Last night at the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards Celebration we had a secret to share. The secret of change. How do you bring about change when change is hard?
All of us want to play a role in creating the kind of Ireland that we want to live in. But sometimes it isn’t clear what that role should be. It can be frustrating when we see outdated systems that are struggling to keep up with the increasing pace of change in our society, or when Ireland’s response to social challenges just isn’t good enough. But how can we channel that frustration into positive change?
Our Vision is an Ireland where every social problem gets solved quickly and effectively, but how can we turn that vision into a reality?
That is the secret we shared last night.
The secret is that the same entrepreneurial approach that has been so powerful in driving change and disrupting industries in the commercial sector, is being used to solve some of our biggest social challenges. That social entrepreneurs are as important to our society as entrepreneurs are to our economy.
And there are three ingredients to making this secret work:
1.Spark: We need to support people in communities around the country to develop solutions. We believe that great ideas can come from people who are closest to the problem, from people who see first-hand what needs to be done, and have the passion and personal experience to make it happen. And that’s why we are doing more and more to spark a pipeline of social entrepreneurs around the country, to empower people to bring about change in their own community.
2.Seed: The second part of this secret is to back these ideas at an early-stage, because big change starts small. When we see the hugely successful projects that have come through our programmes over the years, we often forget that a few short years ago they were just ideas in the mind of a social entrepreneur. Pieta House looked very different when they had just one centre in Lucan, but now they are the largest suicide prevention organisation in Ireland. Men’s Sheds seemed like a good idea when it was in two locations in Waterford. It can change the country now that there are 420 sheds around Ireland, with over 10,000 men visiting a shed every week. That’s why last night we seed funded a portfolio of early-stage ideas, because we need to give the next Men’s Sheds, the next Pieta House every chance of success.
3.Scale: The third and final part of the secret is to double down on successes. So much funding in the social sector is used to maintain projects or just to keep things going. But we’ve seen that when you give the right support to the right social entrepreneur at the right time, they can grow their impact exponentially. That’s why we are very excited to be introducing a new element to our work this year. For the social entrepreneurs who come through our Awards Programmes, who have built the foundations for their organisations with us, we will be making additional, bespoke and tailored investments in them. We will double-down on the best ideas in order to scale them around Ireland and get these ideas to the people who need them most.
So that is our secret of change: spark a pipeline of new ideas around the country, seed a portfolio of high-potential social entrepreneurs, and scale the best ideas by doubling-down. SPARK. SEED. SCALE.
Keep an eye out for stories of the new social entrepreneurs that we’ll be showcasing over the coming days. They have developed new and innovative ideas to tackle social challenges in Ireland. We are so excited to be working with them.
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