Our Vision

An Ireland where every social problem is
solved quickly and effectively.

Our Mission

Support high-potential social entrepreneurs
to tackle Ireland’s social problems.

Our story

The idea emerged in an unusual context. It was 2004 and the Irish economy was booming. More resources than ever before were flowing towards tackling our social challenges. Yet behind the scenes, and for those living on the margins of society, change wasn’t coming fast enough. Poverty, social inequality, the lack of adequate health services and the poor understanding of mental health – to name but a few – were problems that economic prosperity seemed to be bypassing.

We didn’t just need more resources to solve these social challenges, we needed new ideas. In the commercial world there is a well understood approach to bringing about change when change is hard. It is called entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs drive new ideas and create new products, disrupting existing industries and eradicating inefficiencies. In 2004 the huge value that commercial entrepreneurs contributed to our economic development was widely celebrated, but the potential of entrepreneurship in the social sector remained largely underdeveloped.

And so, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland was born. The first organisation in Ireland dedicated to supporting social entrepreneurs, people who were developing new, innovative solutions to address the entrenched social and environmental challenges we face. Initially funded by co-founder Declan Ryan (via The One Foundation), the organisation today remains entirely privately funded by a wide range of prominent entrepreneurs, business leaders and corporates in Ireland, the UK and the USA.

What We Do

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) is an Irish not-for-profit organisation that supports people with new solutions to Ireland’s biggest social problems. SEI helps these individuals to increase their impact by providing significant funding alongside in-depth technical and practical support.

Over the last 14 years, SEI has supported 264 social entrepreneurs, and this year’s funding will bring the total support to over €7 million, in addition to providing significant additional support. These projects have in turn directly impacted 1.7 million people all over Ireland, creating over 1,345 employment opportunities in the process.

We take social entrepreneurs from startup to scale up


We develop a pipeline of high potential social entrepreneurs.


We support high potential social entrepreneurs to build solid foundations.


We partner with high potential social entrepreneurs to increase their impact

“It has been an unimagined growth experience for me and for the VCC.
I am part of a community of social entrepreneurs and I have learned so much from the SEI team and from the other Awardees.”

Elizabeth Waters

Virtual Community College - 2014 Awardee

Get to know Us

We have a dedicated team at Social Entrepreneurs Ireland who are committed to helping social entrepreneurs succeed.

Meet The Team

Board of Directors

John Duffy

Managing Director, KBW

Paul Rellis

Former CEO of Microsoft Ireland

Caroline Keeling

CEO, Keelings

Julie Sinnamon

CEO, Enterprise Ireland

Chairman of the Board

Tommy Breen

Former CEO of DCC plc

Brian MacCraith

President, Dublin City University

Julian Yarr

Managing Partner, A&L Goodbody

Teresa Harrington

Former Partner, PwC

“For the modest amount of funds they have had to
deploy, SEI has made an incredible difference in helping
solve some of society’s challenges.”

John Duffy
SEI Supporter and Board Director

How we’re funded

Individual and Corporate Supporters

We couldn’t do what we do without the support of these organisations, entrepreneurs and business leaders from across Ireland, the UK and USA. They are as passionate about supporting social entrepreneurs as we are.

Individual donors support through the ideas fund or the leadership circle.

Leadership Circle

The Leadership Circle provides an opportunity to engage with our work and the work of our Awardees in a structured and meaningful way, offering members an opportunity to: Connect with leaders from the world of business and entrepreneurship, support the cost of the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards programme and engage with Awardees and Alumni, supporting their organisations to solve Ireland’s social problems.

Ideas Fund

At SEI we know that ideas without investment remain just that, ideas. For this reason, we are launching the IDEAS FUND to back early stage ideas. We are asking those within our network to step forward and help create change by contributing between €1,200 and €2,400 towards the ideas we find in 2019.

With Special Thanks to

Adrian Jones

Alison Cowzer

Barry O’Brien

Bart Murphy

Beth Struckell

Bill McKiernan

Colin Ryan

Danny Sweeney

David Bobbett

Faye Droulliard

Harry & Susan Hartford

James Muldowney

Jim & Diane Quinn

Jim & Mary Flavin

Joe Fuchs

Joe Tully

John Beckett

John Duffy

John Kennedy

Josh Doyle

Keith Ennis

Kip & Peggy Condron

Maurice Mason

Michael Lee

Peter O’Brien

Sheelagh O’Neill

Sheila O’Malley- Fuchs

Tara McCabe

Val Quinn

Zachary Webb

Through our programmes we provide
funding, mentoring and direct support
to high-potential social entrepreneurs
and their projects

Find Out More