New Social Enterprise Development Fund announced

New Social Enterprise Development Fund announced

The €1.6M Social Enterprise Development Fund is the largest of its kind to be invested in Ireland’s social enterprise sector

Published on: 01 Feb 2018

A new €1.6m fund to support social enterprises in Ireland has been established by Social Innovation Ireland (SIFI), in partnership with Cavan County Council and all 31 Local Authorities across Ireland.The Fund is financed by the Department of Rural and Community Development, from the Dormant Accounts Fund and IPB Insurance.

The Social Enterprise Development Fund will be delivered over the course of two years and up to eight successful applicants per year will each receive a grant of €50,000 to invest in growing their organisation. In addition to the cash grant, the successful applicants will also receive a place on Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s six-month Accelerator programme.  Additional places will be reserved for the most promising social enterprises across all 31 Local Authorities in Ireland.

The programme is designed to help social enterprises develop their business skills and to provide them with ongoing peer support and advice so that they develop sustainable enterprises that have a powerful impact in their community.  The fund is now open for applications from social enterprises in County Cavan.

Launching the fund, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Kyne said, "Social enterprises create jobs while also encouraging and delivering positive changes in communities across the country. Every euro that is donated in private philanthropy is matched by the Department of Rural and Community Development through the Dormant Accounts Fund.”

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: “The Social Enterprise Development Fund will allow successful applicants to grow sustainable enterprises that are rooted in local communities and create solutions for a better Ireland.  We are delighted to partner with the local authorities and IPB in launching this fund.”

Tommy Ryan, Chief Executive of Cavan County Council, said: “This new fund will complement the range of supports available from local authorities for social enterprises that have a sustainable business model. The Social Enterprise Development Fund presents a great opportunity for social enterprises in the county to achieve their goals and ultimately create a measurable social impact that can be scaled all over Ireland.”

Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council Paddy McDonald welcomed the news of the new funding by saying: “This scheme will greatly assist communities with projects that can create jobs as well as delivering local services for rural communities. We have a strong community and voluntary sector in Cavan who stand to benefit from this initiative.”

John Evoy, founder of Men’s Sheds has been appointed the Manager of the Social Enterprise Development Fund by Social Innovation Fund Ireland.  The fund will be open for applications from January 24th to March 28th, 2018 and the winners will be informed in June 2018.  Further details are available on


What is a social enterprise?

Social enterprises are organisations whose mission is to have a positive effect on society. They generate revenue through their products or services and reinvest their profits back into their social mission.

Social enterprises develop solutions to Ireland’s most pressing social issues by creating jobs, tackling disadvantage and supporting community development.  We believe there is a need to foster and invest in these social enterprises to allow them to grow their impact and for their solutions to be replicated throughout the country.


Currently it is estimated that between 25,000 and 33,000 people are employed in over 1,400 social enterprises and the opportunity exists to double that number.  But while job creation is important, the bigger impact of social enterprise is in providing sustainable solutions to many societal problems. 


Who can apply to the Social Enterprise Development Fund?

The applicant must be a social enterprise with a not-for-profit legal form. Social enterprises are defined as organisations that:

●        Have a clear social mission and make a social impact

●        Generate income from goods or services

●        Reinvest any surplus into achieving their mission

●        Are separate from government or state agencies.