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

16/03/2020

In Changing Ireland: My Big Idea we meet people working to solve some of Ireland’s biggest social challenges — from health, to housing, to food waste — people whose Big Ideas are Changing Ireland.

 

The series is kindly supported by Permanent TSB, The One Foundation and DCC plc

Meet the Social Entrepreneurs

Adam Harris

Founder, AsIAm

Barry Sheridan

CEO, Irish Men's Shed Association

Aoibheann O'Brien & Iseult Ward

Co-Founders, FoodCloud

John Kearney

Founder, Irish Community Rapid Response

Hugh Brennan

Co-Founder, Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance

Tammy Darcy

Founder, The Shona Project

Caitriona Watters-Crehan

Founder, Prepare Me

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.