With the Hope Concept, Paul aimed to create a for profit social enterprise with a sustainable business model which could contribute to poverty reduction.
Paul studied Commerce at NUI Galway, followed by Marketing at the Smurfit School of Business, University College Dublin, and spent the next five years working in various marketing and commercial roles at Unilever Bestfoods and Cadbury Schweppes. An entrepreneur from an early age, Paul approached SEI with the Hope Concept in 2005.
The original idea was to expand and improve upon the business model of brands such as Paul Newman’s ‘Newman’s Own’ which has transferred over €150 million to children’s charities from the sale of pasta sauces and salad dressings.
The Hope Brand aimed to focus initially on the growing bottled water sector in Ireland. All profits would be allocated to water development projects in developing countries through International Aid Agencies. As Paul was developing his idea, a major bottled water company in Ireland launched a competing brand. Paul then decided to turn his efforts to other avenues of driving social change.
The SEI competition led to a new direction for Paul, who set up Ashoka in Ireland and Scandinavia. Ashoka is a global association of more than 3,000 of the world's leading social entrepreneurs - men and women with systems changing solutions to some of the world's most critical social problems. It is a leader in social entrepreneurship and in Ireland launches key programmes in support of social entrepreneurs.
Today Paul is the director of Ashoka Europe. Ashoka Europe has invested over $50M building the field of social entrepreneurship, backing 370 innovators across the continent, and cultivating a culture of changemaking in Europe. He is also the founder of the Localizer Programme which supports incoming social entrepreneurs with market research, networking and fundraising meetings, office services, consulting services, access to Ashoka friends and advisory councils.
Through Ashoka Paul also founded Change Nation, a multi-year platform to launch proven social innovations and build a culture of change-making in Ireland. Since 2007, Ashoka Ireland has elected 11 of Ireland’s leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows.