Awarded Fund

Social Enterprise Step-Up Fund 2023-2024

In partnership with:

Supporting established, mid-size social enterprises to be ready to scale.

Pictured at Benchspace HQ Cork are: Declan Sweeney, St Gabriel's Orthotics; Deirdre Mortell, CEO Rethink Ireland; Alex Stewart, Galway Community Circus; Maeve Murphy, Benchspace, and Anne Maher, The Urban Co-op. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

On Monday, 13th March 2023, Rethink Ireland announced the Awardees of its Social Enterprise Step-Up Fund. This is a €700,000 two-year Fund created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with Tomar Trust and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund.

This Fund was set up for established, mid-sized social enterprises with the aim of supporting them to be ready to scale. It focuses on elevated funding for social enterprises at the next stage and will help support and expand the social enterprise ecosystem in Ireland.

The Fund will provide critical support to innovative and impactful social enterprises across Ireland, helping them to:

  • Increase their social impact
  • Increase their traded income
  • Create (more) jobs
  • Develop long-term, effective and sustainable solutions.


Galway Community Circus

Galway Community Circus was created to meet the needs of local youth by offering a non-competitive, physical and creative activity in a safe, brave and welcoming space. They provide access to high-quality subsidised circus arts education through their dynamic circus school that offers youth, adult and community programmes and professional training for artists. Their vision is a future in which play, care and creativity are nurtured through circus education, accessible to every child in Ireland.


Benchspace is Ireland’s first, shared, creative manufacturing hub. Their multidisciplinary workshops are equipped with digital design and fabrication facilities, along with modular open-plan studios. The founding idea of Benchspace is to assist creatives start-ups. Key to this objective is to provide affordable access to work space and professional equipment. Such facilities naturally complement Further Education and Higher Education programmes producing graduates in creative and making focused disciplines. Benchspace lowers the barriers for graduates taking their first steps into the start-up market.

St Gabriel’s Orthotics

St Gabriel’s Foundation is a registered charity that has been providing services for children with physical disabilities in Limerick since 1961. St Gabriel’s established an orthotics service in 2008 because at that time there was no locally based orthotist that children with complex needs could access. St Gabriel’s Orthotics was established as a social enterprise to provide a high-quality orthotics service to children with physical disabilities in the Midwest. They use a family centered approach in providing care that aims to improve the quality of life in children attending our service.

The Shona Project

The Shona Project CLG is a multi-award-winning non-profit which aims to educate, empower and inspire today’s Irish girls to become tomorrow’s resilient, capable and confident young women. To ensure that all Irish girls have the skills, tools and self-esteem they need to achieve their potential, The Shona Project creates its impact through national school workshops & events, its vibrant online community and its growing youth ambassador programme which currently has 50 secondary school girls.

The Urban Co-op

The Urban Co-op & Wellness Hub in Limerick is a community grocery selling organic and local nourishing food with the added provision of wellbeing therapies. Synergies of positive energy and dynamic active participation of conscious consumers and suppliers drives a sense of community belonging and purpose. Inclusive volunteer work experience opportunities reinforces the collaborative ethos and social impact. They are inspired to build on the co-operative model into the future.