Friday 23 August 2019

Ireland’s first social enterprise policy will ‘unlock potential’

The policy is aimed at enabling social enterprises to increase their impact on society.

Michael Ring hailed the new social enterprise policy (Brian Lawless/PA)
Michael Ring hailed the new social enterprise policy (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Michelle Devane, PA

Ireland’s first social enterprise policy will help “unlock the transformational potential” of social businesses across the country and help them increase their impact on society, the Rural and Community Development Minister has said.

Michael Ring said the policy will help social businesses to grow in scale, support jobs and make a positive impact on individuals and communities in rural and urban areas.

Social enterprises are businesses whose core objective is to achieve a social, societal or environmental impact. Any profits made are reinvested into achieving a social impact.

Speaking at the launch of the policy at Speedpak in Dublin, Mr Ring said they deliver a range of services through their business model.

“Social enterprises are businesses that go out there to make profit. Whatever profit they make they put back into the business again,” he said. “That’s the social aspect of the business.”

He added: “They are innovative and entrepreneurial and frequently find new ways to address social, societal or environmental challenges in areas such as employment activation, affordable childcare, and the green economy,” he said.

Ultimately, he said they create jobs for people.

The Mayo TD described the publication of the policy, which allows social businesses access to state supports for the first time, as “historic”.

“This is the first Government policy for social enterprise in the history of the State, so it is a defining moment for all who are working for a better Ireland through a social enterprise approach,” he said.

“The policy and the commitments it contains will enable social enterprise to contribute even more fully to Ireland’s social and economic progress.”

Some 26 measures are set to be delivered over the next four years.

Mr Ring said there were social enterprises all over the country that had been “looking for direction for a long, long time”.

The policy was launched at Speedpak, a social enterprise based in Coolock, north Dublin.

Mr Ring said it was “fitting” that the new policy was launched at the factory which was set up in the 1990s to address the issue of high unemployment in one of the capital’s most disadvantaged areas.

In a tweet he wrote: “Great to be in @SpeedpakGroup in Coolock for the launch of Ireland’s first ever Social Enterprise Policy. It will help unlock the transformational potential of social enterprises which provide goods and services in communities throughout country.”

To date, Speedpak has employed and trained over 1,150 people.

Mr Ring described it as a “great example” of what social enterprise can accomplish.

“There are people here that have been in prison, they have been rehabilitated, given an opportunity to get back into society, to get back working. They’ve a job, families. The State has gained from it. Their families have gained from it and they’ve gained from it themselves,” he said.

“That’s what it’s about.”

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