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“Count Me In” and Me

Posted by on September 23, 2015

“Count Me In” and Me

Niamh Crosbie, as the first ever recruit for the SEI “Count Me In” initiative, shares her experience volunteering with Sensational Kids. Working to bring affordable therapy services to children across Ireland, Niamh played an integral part in Sensational Kids recent fundraiser, the “Fairy & Elf Festival”. 


I spotted the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland ‘Count Me In’ campaign on social media and decided to sign up not really knowing what was involved. Looking back, I’m so glad I did!

SEI put me in touch with Sensational Kids in Kildare and I met Karen Leigh, CEO, to discuss how I could help. I started working on the PR and marketing for the charity’s 6th birthday party to help build the profile of the charity locally.

The next big challenge was to fundraise €20,000. Karen’s idea was to hold an “Enchanted Fairy and Elf Festival” at the Irish National Stud – an organisation which very generously gave all proceeds on the day to the charity. The event theme really captured the imagination on social media and in just a few weeks we had 2000 people attending on Facebook! Planning was key, so we met regularly with a journalist volunteer, Noel O’ Driscoll, to make sure the event would be a success.

“I really enjoyed volunteering with Karen Leigh- she is so passionate about Sensational Kids and her enthusiasm is infectious. ”

On the day of the event, the sun shone, the Gardai had to be called to direct traffic and a steady stream of people queued under the balloon arch and bunting in fairy, elf and superhero costumes – some parents more excited than their children. Over 70 people volunteered on the day, from the local ‘Silken Thomas Players’ drama group in costume to Newbridge Lions Club to stalwart supporters of the charity. There was an amazing camaraderie among the volunteers – people who had never worked together coming together to create this fairy wonderland. The result was worth all the planning – to see the excitement on the kids faces and the crowds having fun, and knowing you had played a part in it and for a good cause – not just for a corporate product launch, but a chance to help kids get the therapies they need to achieve their potential in life.

The final numbers were approx. 2500 attendees with €19,300 raised – a day to remember for all involved.

Check out Sensational Kids on their Facebook and Website

Sensational Kids Fairy + Elf Festival

The Top Lesson Entrepreneurs can Learn from Joe Schmidt

Posted by on September 16, 2015

The Top Lesson Entrepreneurs can Learn from Joe Schmidt

Ahead of the Rugby World Cup next month, Darren Ryan, CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, reflects on lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Irish Rugby Coach Joe Schmidt. 

Joe Schmidt brings the Irish Rugby Team to the World Cup full of optimism and as one of the top teams in the world. Despite the recent defeats, there is excitement throughout the country about what this team might achieve. Regardless of what happens over the next month, Joe Schmidt’s achievements with this Irish team over the last few years have already set him apart as one of the greatest coaches in the world. He’s meticulous, detailed, a master strategist and an amazing motivator, but at the same time he empowers his team and gives them a large amount of responsibility.

One of the central approaches he takes to management is never spoken about by commentators or rugby analysts, but provides a valuable lesson for all entrepreneurs: defining team values.

The Irish team have three values that guide the behaviour of the players in every aspect of their lives. From training, to their personal lives, what they eat, and on match-day. Most importantly, these values were decided upon the team members themselves, and so they are embraced from the bottom-up, rather than imposed from the top by Joe Schmidt.

These values guide the players to be:
Humble
Relentless
Disciplined 

These are three guiding principles that the team and individuals can constantly refer back to.

Am I being humble in my approach to myself and to the opposition? Is my training relentless and is my tackling relentless? Am I disciplined both on and off the pitch?

When it comes to leading any team, developing this kind of clarity around team values can help shape and influence all of the little decisions that each team member makes every day. Rather than constantly looking to Joe Schmidt for guidance from the top, their behaviour is driven by team members themselves. And if a player isn’t living up to these values, it is understood that his team-mates will let him know and hold him to account. This is a highly effective tool for management that empowers the team and gives all of the players responsibility. After all, Joe isn’t going to be on the pitch with them on match day or watching over them 24/7 in their lives, so they need to have a shared understanding of what behaviour is expected.

The Lesson for Entrepreneurs

This approach to leadership provides a valuable insight for entrepreneurs. Set clear values with your team members and empower them to do great work. At Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, I believe the team is everything. We support Ireland’s leading social entrepreneurs, working closely with them to solve some of Ireland’s biggest social problems. Providing the team with autonomy and ownership around their tasks has improved performance and empowered them to go above and beyond in our work with social entrepreneurs. To enable this approach we have developed our own team values, decided by the whole team, that guide our behaviour.

Our commitment, in everything we do, is to be:
Authentic
Visionary
Impact-Driven

Authentic:
We commit to do what we say, to be open and transparent and to be fair in our selection process. We always act behind closed doors exactly as we would if somebody was watching. This is a powerful value that ensures all of the team know that doing the right thing always comes ahead of a quick win.

Visionary:
As a team and as a group of individuals, we’ll never settle for the status quo. We have huge ambition for SEI as an organisation, but most importantly we have huge ambition for the social entrepreneurs that we support. We support many organisations that are still in the early stages of their development. We choose to be visionary, to see the potential in all of the projects that we support and to do everything we can to help them to fulfil their full potential.

 Impact-Driven:
At SEI we know that doing good isn’t good enough. All of our work is driven by the end result and if something isn’t having an impact, we should stop doing it. This value also drives us to become better at measuring our own impact as an organisation, not for the sake impressing donors or to tick boxes in our annual report, but to accelerate our own learning. With this focus we can constantly improve and adjust our programmes to maximise the impact we achieve.

These values have played a key role in the our team’s development as the organisation has grown. Based on the results that we’ve seen in SEI, I’d highly recommend that all entrepreneurs and business leaders take a page out of Joe Schmidt’s playbook and spend a few hours with your team to define your values. You’ll quickly see the return in improved performance, morale, empowerment and ownership.

Darren

P.S. Does your team have a set of values? I’d love to hear them, so please share them below. If you haven’t defined your team values yet…get on it!

Photo credit to Irish Independent of Independent News & Media PLC.

Yes Minister!

Posted by on July 23, 2015

Yes Minister!

Last week was a big week for social enterprise in Ireland, although you might not have noticed. Minister Ann Phelan has been appointed as the Minister with responsibility for social enterprise, and that’s a big deal. It’s a big deal because social enterprise has lacked a political home for more than a year, with the post vacated by Minister Sean Sherlock during the 2014 government reshuffle. Without effective political leadership, the social enterprise sector has no voice, and that’s why Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) and our colleagues on the Social Enterprise Task Force (SETF) made the reappointment of a Minister our top priority in recent months.

So as I write this I’ve been wondering how best to emphasise the importance of political leadership for this sector, and it reminded me of a recent question I was asked – how many social enterprises are there in Ireland, and is that number growing? Pretty simple question right? Well…not so much.

The short answer is that we do not know. The most concrete figure is 1,400, a figure that is pulled from the 2013 Forfás report on social enterprise in Ireland, but that number is actually from 2009. Why the uncertainty? Ireland currently doesn’t measure social enterprise activity as part of its Central Statistics Office (CSO) surveys, and so the data available is sporadic at best.

Here at SEI, we have a few indicators that I would point to that would at least suggest that number is on the rise. The first is our own selection process – between 2007 and 2009 we were averaging around 140 applications to our support programme – in the three year period preceding this year’s process, we were averaging more than 200 applications a year. While some of this might be put down to our own improved brand, it seems clear to us that there is more activity at the start-up level, not to mention an increase in the quality of early-stage projects emerging.

The second indicator I would look at is the number of registered charities applying for support from SEI – this has dropped significantly in the last 5 years, with CHY status organisations now accounting for only 28% of our total applicants. Similarly, we’ve seen big increases in the number of registered companies applying to us, which would indicate that more organisations are identifying revenue generating opportunities at the start, rather than being entirely reliant on CHY dependent grant funding.

Lastly, I’d look at international examples. We know that Ireland lags well behind the rest of the world in terms of activity. In the UK for example, the British Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has shown through their annual 2014 Small Business Survey that social enterprises account for around 5% of all British SMEs. With 1,400 social enterprises, Ireland would clock in at around 0.74%. While I’m not suggesting that we’re at the same level as the UK, I am suggesting that coming from such a low base, it’s likely that we have grown that number a bit in the last 5 years, or at least can certainly expect to in the next 5 with the right supports and reforms in place.

All of this points to a stark problem for the sector though – lack of useable data – and policy decisions without information is a dangerous space to be in. That’s why social enterprise needs a political leader to drive through simple improvements like this, and that’s why SEI and the SETF is pushing for the inclusion of social enterprise measurements in CSO business surveys – helping us to answer those simple questions before we try and tackle the big stuff!

So we look forward to working with the Minister and helping her to identify the opportunities that lie ahead. We want to build a better environment for Irish social enterprises, and that’s going to take the efforts of governmental and non-governmental organisations alike. It’s also going to need social entrepreneurs to engage with our political representatives, and in particular with our Minister. So, if you’re still with me, I have one favour to ask. Why not wish our new Minister good luck, and that you’re looking forward to seeing what she can do for you, your organisation, and the sector in 2015 – let’s take action, make a difference, and start a conversation – it’s what this sector does best.

Wish our new Minister good luck at ann.phelan@oireachtas.ie

Neuro Hero launches ground-breaking speech and language therapy app

Posted by on November 22, 2013

Neuro Hero launches ground-breaking speech and language therapy appAviva Cohen of Neuro Hero launching her new app with Minister Sean Sherlock, TD

Congratulations to SEI Award Winner 2012 Aviva Cohen who recently launched ground-breaking speech and language therapy apps for stroke and brain injury survivors

The apps (for IoS and Android) will provide affordable home-based therapy solutions for families whose loved ones have communication difficulties arising from stroke, brain injury and a range of other conditions.

We were delighted to see Minister Sean Sherlock TD, who was recently announced as the Minister with responsibility for social enterprise, launch the four Talk Around IT apps.

Read More

The 2014 David Manley Awards

Posted by on July 3, 2013

The 2014 David Manley Awards

Those who knew David Manley could not fail to be impressed by his vision, dynamism and courteousness – a man who got his priorities right and covered an astonishing range of ground in both his business and private interests. Following his passing in 2002, a group of friends and colleagues, with the help of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Dublin Business Innovation Centre, Business to Arts and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, decided to honour David’s work and retain the admirable way in which he inspired others during his life.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is delighted once again to partner with the David Manley Awards – established to nurture Ireland’s entrepreneurial spirit in the business, arts and social spheres. To date, the David Manley Awards have provided almost €1 million in support to high-potential emerging entrepreneurs.

The overall winner of the David Manley Emerging Entrepreneur Awards will receive €100,000 in mentoring and support, plus a €10,000 cash prize. Each category winner will also receive €1,000 in cash. In addition, each of the nine shortlisted entrepreneurs (three from the arts, business and social categories) will also receive free payroll and accounts software, and mentoring support from Enterprise Ireland’s Mentor Network.

If your organisation is operating in the business, arts or social spheres, and has been in operation for between one and three years, check out http://www.davidmanleyawards.ie for further details. The deadline for applications to their 2014 awards is Friday 6th September 2013.

Meet the Finalists

Posted by on June 14, 2013

Meet the Finalists

Finalists Announced in 2013 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards
8 Innovative Organisations to Compete for €500,000 Cash, plus an Additional €250,000 in Support

The eight finalists in the 2013 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) Awards, sponsored by DCC, have been announced at a reception in Dublin today. The Awards celebrate and support Ireland’s brightest and most ambitious entrepreneurs with game changing ideas to solve the social problems facing Ireland.

The finalists are; John Evoy of Irish Men’s Sheds Association, Krystian Fikert of MyMind, Natasha & Toby Haslam Hopwood of The Galtee Clinic, Peter Johnson of Jobnet, Graham Jones of Solas Project, John Kearney of Irish Community Rapid Response, Brian McCormick of Adtruism and Mags Mullarney of Move4Parkinson’s. Each of the eight social entrepreneurs head young organisations that are employing innovative approaches to help effectuate major social change in Ireland in areas as diverse as healthcare, local emergency services, unemployment, charity fundraising, the children’s care system and the prison and probation system.

The finalists will now embark upon a three month programme of support and evaluation, designed to help them to clearly define the problem they are trying to address and refine their solution. They will receive in depth support and professional consultation before the announcement of the 2013 Award winners in October. Three Social Entrepreneurs will be awarded the top level “Impact Award” and €130,000 in direct funding with over €70,000 worth of support over two years. A further five will receive the “Elevator Award” and €22,000 in direct funding with over €10,000 worth of support over one year.

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Helping PEI to Celebrate their 50th Birthday

Posted by on May 23, 2013

Helping PEI to Celebrate their 50th BirthdaySean Coughlan (SEI) with Tony Keily (PEI)

We were pleased to be a part of PEI’s 50th birthday celebrations over the weekend, where our CEO Seán Coughlan had the opportunity to present the work of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. We’re delighted to welcome them on board as partners in our support of Ireland’s leading social entrepreneurs.

PEI are one of Ireland’s leading surgical and medical device distributors and 2013 is a landmark date for the organisation as it reaches the milestone of 50 years in business. To mark the occasion the company will host several activities during the year – for staff, suppliers, customers and others, and has agreed a three year partnership with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. PEI’s practical and financial support will ensure that we can continue to scale and grow the impact of our Awardees and their new solutions for social challenges in Ireland.

SEI and PEI – Together Thinking Big & Changing Ireland!

The Most Exciting Time of the Year

Posted by on January 29, 2013

The Most Exciting Time of the YearWill it be you?

The Most Exciting Time of the Year? 

“Think Big. Act Now. Change Ireland.” We throw out the call to people all over the country. If you have an innovative solution to a societal problem in Ireland, we want to hear from you. We want you to tell us how your solution has the potential to change Ireland. And we don’t just want to hear about it. We want to help you to make it happen.

This year alone we have raised a fund of €500,000 in cash to give away and a further €250,000 in practical supports and training. At a time when funding elsewhere is being cut, this investment in innovative solutions is more important than ever.

Attract

The purpose of the application process is to attract the very best entrepreneurs who are tackling social problems throughout Ireland. Read More

2013 Application Now Open!

Posted by on January 21, 2013

2013 Application Now Open!

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is now open for applications for this year’s Awards Programme, with a total cash fund of €500,000 to support individuals with new solutions for social challenges in Ireland.

The Awards Programme will see eight social entrepreneurs selected to partake in one of our two support Programmes: the Impact Programme and the Elevator Programme. Three social entrepreneurs will be selected for the Impact Programme and will each receive direct funding of €130,000 over two years, as well as over €70,000 worth of training, mentoring and support.

Five social entrepreneurs will be selected for the Elevator Programme and will each receive direct funding of €22,000 over one year, as well as over €10,000 worth of training, mentoring and support.

The deadline for applications is Monday 18th February. Full details of the application process, eligibility criteria and an overview of the Awards Programme can be found online at www.socialentrepreneurs.ie.

An Information Evening will be held on Tuesday 29th January at 6.30 pm in the Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre, Grand Canal Quay. Previous Awardees will share their experiences and the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland team will be available to answer any questions you may have about the application process. Please register your interest in attending at http://seiawards2013infoevening.eventbrite.ie.

Timeline of the birth of a social entrepreneur

Posted by on December 14, 2012

Timeline of the birth of a social entrepreneurGetting started

Timeline of the birth of a Social Entrepreneur
By Myles McCorry

Step 1: Elation of idea. Can’t get over your own brilliance. (2 weeks)
Step 2: Talk yourself into resolving the problem. Feel like Gandhi. (4-5 weeks)
Step 3: HOW?? Feeling low, as you have told your partner and committed yourself – and only now do you see how tall the mountain that you have chosen to climb is. But you do it any way. (7 weeks)
Step 4: A friends son does you a web site and you feel like you are Kofi Annan Presiding over the UN for 20 minutes. The idea has legs and you are running.
Step 5: You realize it is not actually financially viable or someone (anyone!) would have done this before (5 days). You trip and fall – but get up stronger.
Step 6: Who can give me money; sure it’s a good cause. (This lasts from that point for the whole duration of the project)

Keep running.

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