Twenty-five social enterprise projects across the country will benefit from €300,000 in funding announced by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, on Friday.

The Social Enterprise Start-up Fund will support early-stage social enterprises to grow, create jobs and inspire the next generation of Irish social enterprises. The 25 awardees will receive cash grants of €12,000, as well as a place on a special training programme designed to help them further develop their businesses.

The fund will be administered by Rethink Ireland on behalf of the Department of Rural and Community Development.

Among the pilot awardees is Lough Ree Access for All, based in Lanesborough, which improves access to rivers and lakes for people with disabilities.

“Social Enterprises are providing valuable services and supports in communities right across Ireland.

“Even throughout Covid-19, our social enterprises stepped up to the plate and continued to play a vital role. This fund was set up with the aim of helping different social enterprises who are at an early stage to grow, create jobs and realise their goals.

“We received an overwhelming response to this call for funding, with the scheme heavily over-subscribed. Following the assessment of all the applications received, I am delighted to be in a position today to announce the 25 awardees of the Social Enterprise Start-up Fund. I want to congratulate and wish all of the recipients well,” explained Minister Humphreys

The Minister went on to highlight that the Social Enterprise Start-up Fund was building on successful schemes for social enterprises funded by her Department in recent years, such as the Training and Mentoring Scheme and the Small Capital Grants Scheme for Social Enterprises.

“This announcement underscores my commitment under the National Social Enterprise Policy to growing and strengthening social enterprises by supporting them through targeted programmes and initiatives, and by providing tailored training to help them improve their business potential.

“The programme will be delivered by Rethink Ireland who have a great track record in administering supports to social enterprises.”

Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland, said that Rethink Ireland was delighted to have partnered with the Department of Rural and Community Development to announce the awardees of its Social Enterprise Start-up Fund.

“The 25 social enterprises being awarded today will play a key role in the transition to a more inclusive, sustainable and green economy.

“The funding and non-financial supports that the awardees are to receive will help ensure that they have the best chance of reaching sustainability and impact in their communities,” she remarked.

The €300,000 programme will provide supports of €12,000, consisting of a cash grant and a place on a capacity building “Accelerator Programme”, a tailored programme that will provide training across strategic planning, financial management, governance, business modelling, pitching, and impact measurement.