The Hybrid Social Finance Loan is a partnership between Rethink Ireland, Community Finance Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund. It aims to build the capacity of social enterprises that are first-time borrowers. The first open call took place between mid May and early July 2023. This time we are inviting social enterprises to our second open call.
This unique new financial instrument will provide a mix of a loan that must be paid back, along with a non-repayable loan and business support for up to 20 social enterprises in total. The Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund has committed €890,000 for this Fund. In addition, Community Finance Ireland will provide approximately €500,000 in repayable loans.
At present, there is a lack of investment readiness among social enterprises and there is no tailored financial instrument that fits the needs of the growing social enterprise market. The Hybrid Social Finance Loan aims to tackle these gaps following extensive research on financial instruments for social enterprises in Ireland and consultation with the sector.
A key requirement for applicants is that their social enterprise must not have borrowed money before. Start up social enterprises and/or those that have less than 5 years trading would have an advantage over other applications.
Each Award will include:
You can apply to the Hybrid Social Finance Loan via the online portal from 25th September 2023 to 8th December 2023 at 1pm.
Please join us for our application clinic to find out more and answer any questions that you have. During these sessions, we will also discuss tips for submitting the financial documentation required:
For any questions you may have please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
What is a social enterprise?
As per The National Social Enterprise policy 2019-2022:
A Social Enterprise is an enterprise whose objective is to achieve a social, societal or environmental impact, rather than maximising profit for its owners or shareholders.
It pursues its objectives by trading on an ongoing basis through the provision of goods and/or services, and by reinvesting surpluses into achieving social objectives.
It is governed in a fully accountable and transparent manner and is independent of the public sector. If dissolved, it should transfer its assets to another organisation with a similar mission.
Eligibility & Criteria
Projects must meet both Rethink Ireland’s criteria and the specific criteria for the Hybrid Social Finance Loan, as set out below:
Rethink Ireland Criteria
*If you have another legal form, but meet the definition of social enterprise under the National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland, the Fund may be able to support you. Please contact email@example.com if you have any questions.
The Hybrid Social Finance Loan Core Criteria
The criteria below will be considered advantageous in applications, however, organisations that meet the core criteria but do not meet the advantageous criteria are encouraged to apply.
Projects incorporating any of the below in their application will have an advantage:
Which projects cannot apply?
Projects that are not eligible to apply are:
Which applicants cannot apply?
Applicants that are not eligible to apply are:
If my organisation has previously received an award from Rethink Ireland, can I still apply?
Yes. If you have previously been funded by Rethink Ireland, you can still apply. Previous awardees must be able to demonstrate they have performed well on a previous programme and capture in the application form how the new funding being applied for is a logical continuation from the original investment, fitting the new Fund criteria in particular.
If my organisation is currently in receipt of an award from Rethink Ireland, can I still apply?
Projects on one of our Funds that have cash grant payments remaining before the commencement of the new fund programme are not eligible to apply.
Organisations on one of our Funds that have cash grant payments remaining before the commencement of the new fund programme are still eligible to apply with a different project and different project lead.
Can I apply for this funding even though I am still in the ideation stage?
Unfortunately no, your social enterprise must be able to demonstrate some traded income to date.
What do you mean by innovation?
At Rethink Ireland, we define social innovation as the successful delivery of new approaches to meet social needs more effectively and sustainably than those currently available. It can include existing work which is done in creative, different, and dynamic ways, or in a new locality.
Just as innovation is necessary for economic growth, we believe innovation is critical to societal and economic progress.
If my organisation is funded by a Government/state agency (HSE, TULSA etc) are we eligible?
Yes, you can apply if you are in receipt of funding from a government or state agency. However, if your organisation is 100% funded through state sources then you are not eligible to apply to the Fund.
Is it possible for organisations to collaborate in an application (e.g. a community development organisation and an educational provider)?
They can and one organisation should take the lead. Please refer to the eligibility criteria to ensure that your application is eligible for funding.
The Fund will offer up to 20 start-up social enterprises a combination of a loan that must be repaid, a non-repayable loan and a business support package, to help them expand and increase their social impact.
* Community Finance Ireland will decide on the repayable loan. Rethink Ireland’s Board will make the final decision on the non-repayable loan amount but generally, it will be for the same amount of the repayable loan.
What can the Hybrid Social Finance Loan be spent on?
The non-repayable loan provided by Rethink Ireland may be used to cover operations/staff costs (working capital) and up to 50% on equipment. It cannot be used to pay off debts or for large capital items such as renovations, or for vehicles, land or buildings, or to fund research.
The repayable loan provided by Community Finance Ireland can be spent in line with the social enterprise’s needs, including capital investments, following approval from Community Finance Ireland. Applicants will submit a budget as part of their application and must be able to demonstrate in your application how this is facilitating your Social Enterprise.
What is expected of Awardees?
The project lead will be expected to take part in the six-month Accelerator Programme, which includes attending approximately 6 workshops and spending time working 1:1 with a business/strategy consultant.
What is involved in completing the application form?
Applicants will complete an application form which will be submitted via Rethink Ireland’s online platform. Please ensure all required documentation is provided.
What kind of video do we need to submit? (Optional)
This video is optional and don’t worry – you don’t need to produce a high-quality or expensive video. You can use a smartphone or tablet. We just want to hear you telling the story of your project in 2 – 3 mins max. Please tell us:
You can then upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo and password-protect it if you wish. You can insert the URL link and the password in the application form.
What financial information do we need to submit with our application?
Other documentation required:
How do we upload our project budget (planned income and expenditure)?
In the relevant section of the application form, you will be provided with a link to a budget template in excel. Please click on the link provided and DOWNLOAD this document to your computer. Then fill in your financial information and save the document with your project’s name and then upload it (as an Excel file)in the relevant section of the application form.
We have tried to make the application process as accessible as possible but we understand that there may still be some difficulties for applicants. If you have access needs or are struggling with the application form, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
What happens after we submit our application?
How does the selection process work?
The selection process is very rigorous and consists of a number of stages:
Who will decide who wins the awards?
All applications will be reviewed thoroughly through a rigorous process. The Board of Rethink Ireland will make the final decision on successful applicants and the number and value of the final non-repayable loan, while Community Finance Ireland is responsible to issue a loan letter to the selected Awardees for the repayable loan given.
How do applicants find out where they are in the selection process?
We will contact all applicants by email to let them know whether or not they have been shortlisted. When final decisions have been made on the successful applicants, we will contact all shortlisted applicants by phone or email to let them know whether they have been successful.
By applying for The Hybrid Social Finance Loan, you agree to the following terms and conditions.
Please contact email@example.com should you require further information.