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Exceptional impact of Social Enterprise Development Fund marked with open call for 2023 applications

€4.4 million Fund has reached 271,279 beneficiaries by supporting 110 social enterprises in local communities since 2018.

January 16th 2023: Rethink Ireland, the organisation supporting the most innovative non-profit organisations working in Irish communities across the country, is celebrating the positive impact of social enterprises who are transforming Ireland under the Social Enterprise Development (SED) Fund, making an open call for applications to the 2023 Fund. Now in its sixth year, the Fund will focus on start-up and next stage social enterprises, as well as the continuation of a business course across every Local Authority region in Ireland.


The €4.4 million Fund, created in partnership with Local Authorities Ireland and funded by IPB Insurance and the Department of Rural and Community Development through the Dormant Accounts Fund, opened for applications today at Rethink Ireland’s Social Enterprise Development Fund Showcase, marking five years of the Fund. The incredible impact achieved to date under the Fund is set to accelerate change into 2023 with new opportunities for social enterprises to solve critical issues, and improve the lives of people and communities.


Rethink Ireland supports social enterprises that are focused on critical social change. Social enterprises can lead the transition to a more inclusive, sustainable and green economy. Any profit made by a social enterprise is reinvested back into the organisation’s social or environmental mission, allowing it to maximise impact.


Impact of the €4.4m Social Enterprise Development Fund

Since 2018:


Some of the achievements made by 2022 social enterprise Awardees of the Fund include a mentor-based supported employment program from Way to Work to assist young people aged 16 to 21 who have been in care; the creation of a Ukrainian language website by the Together for Razem Centre to provide real time information to reach 100,000 Ukrainian refugees; tripling of vital services to those with varying levels of disability for post-care support after being discharged from the HSE, through the No Barriers Foundation; and the provision of practical, moral and social support to Asylum Seekers, Refugees and other Migrants through KASI, a local NGO based in Killarney, helping more than 1,000 refugees in the County.


Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities, Joe O’Brien TD commented: “Since the announcement last year of a further €1.2 million investment into the Social Enterprise Development Fund for 2022 and 2023, I am delighted to see the great progress made by true innovators in our local communities around Ireland. Social enterprises supported through the Fund have made a significant impact over the past five years to address the needs of communities. The Government continues to prioritise social enterprises and the key role they play in society.”


Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Rethink Ireland said: “Our Social Enterprise Development Fund has had a transformative impact in local communities across Ireland over the past five years. This hard won impact highlights the opportunity to do more, and we are thrilled to announce the opening of the fund for applications again.”


“Ireland is lagging behind Europe in backing social enterprises and one of our goals at Rethink Ireland is to harness the potential of these enterprises as innovators, employers and service providers in communities.”


She added: “We are pleased to celebrate our partnership with IPB Insurance, Local Authorities Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD), the success of which, crucially, is evident in the positive impact of the Fund on communities in Ireland.”


John Kearns, CEO, IPB Insurance, commented: “Through our ongoing partnership with Rethink Ireland on the Social Enterprise Development Fund, we are enabled as an organisation to realise our goal to make a positive social impact.  Working alongside our Local Authority Members, our collaboration with Rethink Ireland and the Department has focused on identifying and supporting the best social enterprises nationwide with the added benefit of promoting the sector as an important contributor to Ireland’s socio-economic development. We look forward to seeing more progress made in communities around the country facilitated by the social enterprises supported by this Fund.“


Alistair Aitken, Manager, Books at One, an SED Fund Awardee social enterprise, said: “We are a network of community bookshops run by local people to address the social and economic decline that many communities in Ireland are experiencing. The Rethink Ireland SED Fund enables us, crucially, to step in where there is an absence of investment in facilities for intergenerational socialising outside of pubs and sports clubs.”


She continued: “Books at One have opened a new store in Dublin, as well as developing engaging activities for local schoolchildren, teachers, and families to enjoy and benefit from free reading events and workshops. Through SED funding and support, the service has delivered staff training in the areas of HR, volunteer management and event organisation. Books at One has also worked to reduce the barriers to reading for pleasure where opportunities are limited through economic circumstances, lack of access and motivational disadvantage by providing exciting events and free books in a disadvantaged area.


Applications for the 2023 Social Enterprise Development Fund will be open until February 24th and can be found on Rethink Ireland’s website, www.rethinkireland.ie. More information on the 2022 Awardees can be found below.


Additional Impacts of the 2022 SED Fund: