Airing now on RTÉ One: Changing Ireland My Big Idea, in association with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland
Meet the Social Entrepreneurs
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.