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Press Release

Minister Ring opens Ireland's first National Conference on Social Enterprise in Croke Park

Published: 21 November 2019
From: Department of Rural and Community Development

Mr Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development , today (21 November 2019) opened Ireland’s first National Conference on Social Enterprise at Croke Park, Dublin. The conference, attended by almost 200 delegates, coincides with International Social Enterprise Day and recognises the contribution which social enterprise make to Ireland’s economic and social development. It aims to build awareness, engage stakeholders, share information about policy priorities and create space for networking and collaborating.

Opening the Conference, Minister Ring said:

“Since I launched Ireland’s first ever National Social Enterprise Policy in July, I have been overwhelmed by the momentum it has created. Today’s turnout, and the level of interest in this Conference is evidence of that.
“This Conference marks a timely opportunity for us all to come together to communicate clearly about the contribution Social Enterprise makes to society, the economy and the environment. Social enterprises also contribute to the delivery of many Government policy goals in areas such as employment activation, affordable childcare, and the circular economy.
“Through the National Social Enterprise Policy, the Government’s objective is to create an enabling environment for social enterprise to grow in scale and impact. My Department will work in partnership with all stakeholders in the delivery of the Policy, to enable social enterprises in Ireland to deliver their social objectives, to support jobs, and to have a positive impact in urban and rural communities.”

The Minister continued:

“Delivery of the Social Enterprise Policy is already well under way. I recently launched a new pilot Training and Mentoring for Social Enterprises, and a Small Capital Grants Scheme for Social Enterprises. Many more initiatives will follow over the lifetime of the Policy.
“I am convinced that Ireland can become an international leader in Social Enterprise. Today’s Conference will showcase some wonderful examples of social enterprises, from those delivering services to local communities, right up to enterprises which are trading internationally.
“The Conference will allow us to share information and work together to maximise the impact of social enterprise on Irish society and the economy.”

Key speakers at the conference include Julie Sinnamon, Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Ireland; Gerry Higgins, Managing Director of Social Enterprise World Forum; John McMullan, Chairperson of Social Enterprise Northern Ireland; Iseult Ward CEO and Co-founder of FoodCloud and Michael Kelly, CEO and Founder of Grow-it-Yourself.

Enterprise Ireland Chief Executive, Julie Sinnamon, said:

“I’m delighted to be here today to contribute to the National Social Enterprise Conference. It is a great opportunity to recognise that social enterprises are an important part of the broader entrepreneurship ecosystem. They are contributing to economic growth while also having a hugely positive effect on society and the environment.”


Notes for editors:

Social Enterprises

Social enterprises are businesses whose core objective is to achieve a social, societal, or environmental impact. Like other businesses, social enterprises pursue their objectives by trading in goods and services on an ongoing basis. However, surpluses generated by social enterprises are re-invested into achieving the core social objectives.

They frequently work to support disadvantaged groups such as the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, travellers, etc., or to address issues such as food poverty, social housing, or environmental matters.

Ireland’s first National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019-2022 was launched by the Department of Rural and Community Development on 18 July 2019, with the objective of creating an enabling environment for social enterprise to grow and contribute more fully to Ireland’s social and economic progress.

The Policy is focused on three main objectives:

1. Building Awareness of Social Enterprise

2. Growing and Strengthening Social Enterprise

3. Achieving Better Policy Alignment

The Conference

The holding of an annual Social Enterprise Conference is one of the commitments made in the National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019-2022 to allow stakeholders to share best practice, inform policy implementation and future social enterprise policy development. The theme of the conference is “Unlocking the transformational potential of Social Enterprise in Ireland”. The conference has been designed to be participative and allow for the views of all the delegates to be shared.