Today we’re launching an extensive report on social entrepreneurship in Ireland, looking at the current state of the sector, the use of social impact bonds in Ireland, and the development of a social impact measurement framework. This report, Social Entrepreneurship – Considerations for Policy Makers and Practitioners, was developed in partnership with the University of Toronto and represents a major piece of research into the Irish social entrepreneurship landscape. See the report’s introduction below and download your copy here – http://bit.ly/1kmswtf
Over the last 10 years, the social entrepreneurship sector in Ireland has seen remarkable growth. In 2004, social entrepreneurship, as a concept and a practice, did not exist in any formalised way in Ireland. Today, in 2014, there are a growing number of individuals self-identifying as social entrepreneurs and many actors active in both working directly with these social entrepreneurs and in helping build an ecosystem of support for this emerging sector. However, the social entrepreneurship sector is still young and many questions on how best to support its continued growth and maximize its positive impact, remain. It is within this context that the current reports have been compiled.
The genesis of this project came from a proposed partnership between Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. As Ireland’s largest organisation providing direct support to early stage social entrepreneurs, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland was well placed to identify some of the important questions that needed to be addressed in order to allow the sector to continue to grow both in terms of scale and, critically, impact. While acknowledging the important work being done on social entrepreneurship within the third level sector in Ireland, it was felt that having an international perspective could be of significant benefit in helping frame the questions, challenge assumptions and posit solutions. As one of the leading universities worldwide, the University of Toronto, provided the perfect partner, particularly given the presence of the Munk School of Global Affairs with its novel approach to teaching and research within the university. The Munk School speaks to the challenges of a changing world, something that resonates strongly with the approach and ethos of social entrepreneurs, and in its Masters of Global Affairs students it has an exceptional cadre of talented and insightful graduate students. From the point of view of the Munk School and its renowned Innovation-Policy Lab and its Social Innovation Centre, establishing this collaboration with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, fits perfectly with the School’s goals of enhancing innovation and its positive distributional and social impacts on a global scale.
In terms of the specific research projects of the Masters in Global Affairs graduate students, there seemed to be a natural progression in the issues being addressed. Firstly, the question of how to continue the growth of the social entrepreneurship sector in Ireland was examined. It became apparent that continued, and indeed increased, policy support for the sector was vital.
- Thus the first project report focused on the state of the social entrepreneurship sector and how to improve it.
In order for social entrepreneurs to succeed, they require not only an enabling policy environment, but also, critically, sources of financing. Recent years have seen the development of alternative financing mechanisms for the not-for-profit and social enterprise sectors, in particular Social Impact Bonds (or as they are known in Ireland, Social Impact Investments).
- Therefore the second report focused on the potential of Social Impact Bonds as a viable alternative financing mechanism within an Irish context.
One of the critical components within Social Impact Bonds is a robust and measurable set of impact and outcome metrics, something that is of great importance not just to Social Impact Bond actors but also to social entrepreneurs and the organisations that support them, such as Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.
- And so the third report addressed the issue of how to design a social impact measurement framework for an organisation such as Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.
In compiling these three projects, we are not claiming that the issues addressed are the only, or even the most important, questions that the sector currently faces. Nor are we claiming that the conclusions reached are necessarily the correct ones. We do, however, feel that the issues addressed are important ones for the social entrepreneurship sector in Ireland and that the conclusions reached will allow for an informed discussion to take place amongst all actors in the sector as to the best way forward. We strongly believe this would be to the benefit not just of the social entrepreneurs in Ireland, but also to the benefit of the individuals and communities they serve.
Prof. Dan Breznitz
Munk Chair of Innovation Studies
Co-director Innovation Policy Lab
Munk School of Global Affairs
University of Toronto
Social Entrepreneurs Ireland
Download a copy of Social Entrepreneurship – Considerations for Policy Makers and Practitioners
Ulster Bank – Business Achievers Awards
Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is proud to have Ulster Bank as the corporate partner of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s Alumni Network. Ulster Bank is committed to entrepreneurship. Currently Ulster Bank is running their ‘Business Achievers Awards’. The awards cover a range of business categories; we’re delighted that this includes a Social Enterprise award too.
“Celebrating your business success”
The Ulster Bank ‘Business Achievers Awards’ celebrate the spirit of the excellence and innovation that are the hallmark of our most successful entrepreneurs.
Open to businesses across the Island of Ireland regardless of size, location, sector or turnover, the Awards recognise and reward entrepreneurial success and achievement across the Island.
The overall winner will receive a comprehensive reward package including a €50,000 publishing bursary with the Irish Independent or Belfast Telegraph, business mentoring from Enterprise Ireland, a full service communications workshop, a business laptop and a specially commissioned ‘Business Achievers Award’ trophy.
This year’s categories are:
1. Business Start Up Award
2. Small Business Award
3. Established SME Award
4. International Business Award
5. Social Enterprise Award
6. Food & Drink Award
7. Agri-Business Award
8. Women Led Business Award
You can enter a maximum of two categories per business. The awards are open for entries until 26th September 2014.
What happens when I enter my business?
- All entries are judged by a provincial panel
- Three companies in each category will be short listed for the four provincial finals in October 2014.
- There will be one winner per category in each provincial final and they will receive a ‘Business Achievers Award’ Provincial Trophy and media profiling.
- All provincial category winners are judged by our national judging panel
- These companies will also be invited to our National Awards event in December 2014
- Eight all-island category winners will be announced and they will receive a ‘Business Achievers Award’ National Trophy and media profiling.
- One of our eight category winners will become the overall Ulster Bank Business Achiever 2014.
Once you complete the application process, there are also opportunities for your business to benefit from:
- Extensive national and local media coverage through our media partners, the Irish Independent and the Belfast Telegraph.
- Sell, pitch and gain insights from some of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs and industry experts.
- Network and promote your company at our provincial and national awards ceremonies
- Gain access to a focused business forum for like-minded entrepreneurs through www.smallbusinesscan.com
All this information and more is available at www.businessachieversawards.com
Terms and conditions apply.
Our CEO Sean Coughlan has decided after 10 years that it is time for a fresh start for both himself and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. Sean will be leaving us in August to take up the exciting new position as CEO of Boards.ie. While we are all very sad at Sean’s departure, we are excited for what the future holds with Darren Ryan as the newly appointed CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. Here Sean explains in his own words his new venture and optimism for the future.
I just wanted to let you know that after 10 incredible, inspiring and exciting years of setting up and running Social Entrepreneurs Ireland I am planning to leave this summer and pass on the baton to a new leadership team who will guide SEI through its next phase of development.
The last 10 years have been an amazing journey and I am immensely proud of what we have built in SEI. Through working with our amazing social entrepreneur awardees, we have helped change the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of people. And we have played a key part in the development of a social entrepreneurship movement that is now a vibrant and growing force for good in communities throughout our island. To have achieved this level of success and impact is the work of many rather than the few, and I would like to thank each and every one of our supporters, friends, partners, staff, board and (constructive!) critics who have been such a crucial part in our growth and success. There are too many to mention in an email such as this, but you know who you are, so a deep and heartfelt thank you for everything you’ve done during my tenure with SEI.
There is one group in particular that I would like to specifically mention – our amazing awardees. Our job in SEI is to support and help them on their journey. At times we have got it right and other times we have got it wrong, but on balance I believe that we have had a hugely positive impact. That said, we know our work pales in comparison to the work that the social entrepreneurs do. They show a commitment, courage, passion and steely determination that is breath taking. Every one of them is a hero.
So what next? Well the first thing is that SEI will be left in very good hands. I am leaving at a time when we have an exceptional team in place who are dedicated, passionate and committed to helping the best social entrepreneurs to succeed. And I am delighted to announce that Darren Ryan has been appointed my successor as CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. Darren is one of the most impressive talents I have come across throughout my career, he is SEI through and through and I know that the organisation will go onto even bigger and better things with Darren at the helm.
And as for me, I am very excited to be taking up the role of CEO of boards.ie (www.boards.ie). boards.ie is Ireland largest community website. With over 70,000 daily active users, boards.ie allows people to discuss topics that are interesting and important to them and in doing so can, at times, help shape the national conversation. It is a great business with lots of potential and I am really looking forward to the new challenge.
So, as with all things, there comes a time when it is time to move on, time to hand over. I really feel that for me and for SEI this is the time. The future is bright and as I pass over to Darren I do so with a sense of pride, optimism and excitement for the future of SEI.
Thanks again for everything!
Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is running a governance workshop with some of its Awardees this month, facilitated by legal and governance experts. Ahead of that workshop, we wanted to ask the question, what is it that makes good governance so crucial?
The importance of good governance for social enterprises and charities cannot be overstated. With good governance comes oversight, public trust and the ability to mitigate against many of the risks an organisation may face.
To a start-up organisation it can appear to be nothing but a hindrance and a drain on scarce resources. However, there is a pertinent time in the development of an organisation for which different aspects of governance can and should be meaningfully applied. This is recognised by the many voluntary codes of governance available, such as that of www.governancecode.ie which is tailored to organisational size and turnover, with different expectations placed on different types of organisations depending on the criteria they meet.
There can be a lot of confusion about governance requirements and best practice, especially in Ireland where a Charity Regulator is not yet in operation (though it soon will be. So, what exactly does it involve?
‘Governance’ refers to how an organisation is run, directed and controlled. Good governance means an organisation will design and put in place policies and procedures that will make sure it runs effectively. But good governance is not only about rules. It is an attitude, whereby organisations aim to act with integrity and to meet their responsibilities to both supporters and beneficiaries.
Governance encompasses a wide variety of functions of an organisation, such as the means by which it runs and how roles are defined, its risk management, and the mission, purpose and values of an organisation. The board members of a social entrepreneur-led project will play a large role in these matters, and need to extend oversight to the organisation as a whole.
Good governance requires transparency and accountability to stakeholders, two words which are often used interchangeably but which in reality have very different meanings. If an organisation aims to be accountable, it needs to report to its shareholders on the outcomes of its work rather than simply on its outputs. It can do this through more narrative reporting, but in order to be transparent its reporting and accounting need to be outlined in a particular way so it can be compared to other organisations and its governance can be benchmarked. This is a particular problem faced by ‘not for profit’ organisations in Ireland; where financial reporting can take many different variations. The Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) for financial reporting is used in the UK and regarded as best practice for Ireland, and something similar may soon be required under law by the Charities Regulator.
It may at first seem like a huge uphill struggle, but putting the appropriate governance structures in place will ensure an organisation is ready to grow and behave with integrity and openness. Recent failures of governance within the Irish ‘not for profit’ sector have damaged public trust and shown the need for good governance principles to be adopted by all social enterprises and charities, to the best of their ability.
You can find details of governance requirements for your particular organisation here; www.governancecode.ie
Written by Gina Kelly, Intern with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland
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
Alternatively you can share this blog post on Facebook,LinkedIn or Google+
The Team at Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.
Charity, social enterprise and for-profit
With the launch of this year’s selection process we are already getting a few questions from potential applicants asking whether we support for-profit organisations, whether we just support charities and what our take on social enterprise is. Having pulled together some brief answers on this in our FAQs, we thought it might be good to explain some of our reasoning and thinking here in more detail.
Our current offerings for this are based on our latest strategy (full details of which will be revealed shortly!).
Ultimately at Social Entrepreneurs Ireland what we care about is that the best ideas for social change get the right support to help them to succeed. That is our vision. And in that context it doesn’t really matter to us whether the organisation is a charity, a social enterprise or a for-profit. Each of these models have different advantages and disadvantages associated with them, but all three models have the potential to make a positive social impact in Ireland.
2012 award winner Hireland are going from strength to strength with their new campaign. Here, Sybil Cope project manager with Hireland tells us about their recent success and how to get involved.
A recent brush with social media mania reminded Hireland of the overwhelming people-power that exists in Ireland
Our 2014 Hireland campaign started with a flurry of positivity from our social media blast. Within a few hours we were ‘trending’ in Dublin and then in Ireland. This brought a huge volume of traffic to our website, creating greater awareness of Hireland and more jobs being created. We were reminded of the overwhelming people-power that exists in Ireland. Indeed this collective positive spirit is being repeatedly demonstrated to us.
Jenny and Beatriz
With our awards application opening date fast approaching 19th March (closing date 28th April), we decided to ask some previous awardees to share with us a few words. The aim of this is to hopefully inspire,and provide you with a better understanding of the type of work we support in Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. Here Peter Johnson of Jobnet, Elevator winner 2013, speaks about the satisfaction he gets from his work.
Through the Glass Window and The Power of One
Jobnet is a programme that helps professionals and graduates market themselves effectively and network confidently to find employment. Helping people find work can be an immensely satisfying experience – something we would like to see more of here in Jobnet as 2014 progresses. It’s hard to beat the feeling when someone phones you to tell you they’ve found work or, better still, calls in to our offices to share their good news. Working really matters to people. It brings income, structure to the day and brings physical, mental and emotional satisfaction. Working positively impacts family life, friends, neighbours, and community acquaintances. Working contributes financially to the overall economy. Working matters.
The Ashoka Social & Business Co Creation Competition is open for entries.
Social & Business Co-Creation: collaboration for impact, Call for the most innovative Social & Business co-creation projects in Europe!
Ashoka, the Zermatt Summit Foundation, Foundation Guilé, DPD and Boehringer Ingelheim are launching an online collaborative competition, Social & Business Co-Creation: collaboration for impact to source, highlight and catalyze innovative Co-Creation projects in Europe led by social-mission organisations (e.g. NGO, association, not-for-profit, foundation, social enterprise), traditional businesses and public institutions. These projects will illustrate new forms of interaction between social and business to create shared social and economic value at scale. Read More
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