Closed Fund

Social Enterprise Development Fund 2021

Closing Date
In partnership with:

Backing the social enterprises that are making a positive impact on the social and economic fabric of their community.

The Social Enterprise Development Fund is a €3.2 million Fund being delivered from 2018 – 2022. The fund was created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with Local Authorities Ireland and funded by IPB Insurance and the Department of Rural and Community Development through the Dormant Accounts Fund. IPB Insurance is an Irish-owned general insurance company which protects and supports their local authority members and their communities across Ireland.

What is this Fund's objective?

The objective of the fund is to find and back social enterprises that add to the social and economic fabric of their community by way of social impact.
The fund will provide critical support to the most 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.

What is a social enterprise?

Social enterprises are organisations whose mission is to have a positive effect on society.

Social enterprises are at the heart of facing the greatest social challenges in Ireland. They are professional and experienced, and use business skills and clever thinking to bridge the gaps in our society. The money they make from their work is used to grow what they do so that they can reach all the people in society who need their help.

Social enterprises are innovating every day by inventing and developing solutions to Ireland’s most pressing social issues. They are creating meaningful jobs, tackling inequalities and supporting community development. We believe there is a need to foster and invest in these social enterprises to allow them to grow and spread their solutions throughout the country.

What does the Fund offer?

In 2021, the fund offers (up to) 16 Awardees:

1. Cash grants
2. Places on the Accelerator Programme

For the second time, we are also going to offer the best social enterprise in each Local Authority where no social enterprise won a cash grant a place on our Genesis

1. Cash grants

In 2021, the fund will support up to 16 social enterprises with cash grants:

● Two social enterprises will receive a cash grant of €50,000 each
● Two social enterprises will receive a cash grant of €30,000 each
● Two social enterprises will receive a cash grant of €20,000 each
● Up to ten social enterprises will receive a cash grant of €10,000 each.

2. The Accelerator Programme

All successful applicants will win a place on Ireland’s only National Accelerator Programme specifically designed for social enterprises. The Accelerator Programme is
designed to equip the social enterprises with the tools and techniques to expand their business skills and deepen their impact within their communities and across the

It provides training from best-in-class experts across the private, nonprofit and public sector. Training is provided across a range of functions including impact measurement and management, financial management, stakeholder discovery, business modelling, pitching, storytelling and more. The Accelerator Programme also includes business supports tailored to the needs of each organisation such as theory of change, strategic planning and implementation and market research.

By joining the programme, organisations will also gain access to a peer network of the best social enterprises in Ireland.

A minimum of three winners will come from each of the urban, town and rural categories.

“[The SED Fund] has given us processes that we can actually look at this sort of stuff and say, ‘Right, well, how then can we drive this on to the next level?’ We know how to really look at the strategic idea in a much more formalised way, we challenge ourselves much more about how, why, where, what to get across, what we need to do better and it just makes everything far more realistic and far more sustainable, just that process. So every decision that we look at in the company has to be looked at through this lens, it helps us maintain focus on what’s really, really important to us.”
Ray Burke, Active Connections

Chance to get further investment

At the end of the Accelerator Programme, all successful social enterprises will have the opportunity to pitch for a share of an additional €100,000.
This further investment will be awarded to the social enterprises that demonstrate the greatest potential for future impact and growth.

The Genesis Programme

The Genesis Programme will provide support to social enterprises who do not receive a cash grant. The attendees for the programme will be selected across Ireland, ensuring that the Social Enterprise Development Fund offers support to a social enterprise in every Local Authority area. The Genesis Programme will be an intensive two-day workshop that will focus on building the skills and knowledge needed to develop a sustainable social enterprise and to be successful in future funding opportunities.

Who can apply?

We invite applications from social enterprises that:

● Have a clear social mission that addresses a critical social issue
● Generate income from goods or services
● Are already up and running
● Reinvest any surplus into achieving their mission
● Have a not-for-profit legal form, e.g. companies limited guarantee
● Are separate from the Government and state agencies
● Have their main impact in the Republic of Ireland
● Have not already completed a multi-year fund with Rethink Ireland.

What are the Social Enterprise Development Fund criteria?

Key criteria

The key criteria that applicants will need to demonstrate are:

● How does the social enterprise impact a critical social issue
● How the social enterprise is (or has the potential to be) a sustainable business generating traded income from goods or services

Advantageous criteria

The applications will also be assessed on how well they demonstrate that the social enterprise :

● Is innovative in an Irish context
● Has the potential to scale or replicate in Ireland
● Has the potential to create additional jobs

Other criteria

The Social Enterprise Development Fund will accept applications from:

● Social enterprises, as defined above
● Social enterprises that sit within larger not-for-profit organisations, such as charities and voluntary organisations

How can you apply to the Fund?

Stage 1: Applications open from 21 January to 5 March 2020

Applications are open from Thursday 21 January until Friday 5 March 2021 at 5.00pm. At this point, applicants are invited to complete a short application form. Based on this initial form, Rethink Ireland will identify a shortlist of applicants who have met the required criteria.

We are running two lunchtime ‘Application Clinics’ on Friday 19th and Friday 26th February, to help with any questions you might have on applying to the Fund.

Register via Eventbrite for our session on Friday 19th February HERE and our session on Friday 26th February HERE.

Stage 2: Selected applicants invited to submit second stage application by 1 April 2021

Selected applicants will be invited to complete a more detailed application form. The deadline for receipt of applications for this second stage is Thursday 1 April 2021.
Following the stage 2 application, shortlisted applicants will be invited for interviews.


Finalists will be invited for an interview which will take place between Monday 3rd May and Thursday 13 May 2021.

Other important dates

Announcing winners

The Social Enterprise Development Fund will inform the successful applicants before the end of June 2021, and the awards announcement will follow.

The Accelerator Programme

The Accelerator Programme will take place between July and December 2021. During this period the awardees will be expected to attend workshops, about once per month, and to meet with their consultants on a regular basis.

Applying for a share of the €100,000

Towards the end of 2021 , the Awardees will be invited to submit a proposal and pitch for a share of the additional €100,000. This further investment will be granted to the social enterprises which demonstrate the greatest potential for future impact and growth.

The Genesis Programme

The Genesis Programme will take place in September 2021. The dates are to be confirmed.

Showcase Event

A showcase event will be held in early 2022 to celebrate the impact of the Awardees, mark the end of the Accelerator Programme and announce the winners of the share of the €100,000.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is expected of Awardees?

Awardees will be expected to take part in a six-month Accelerator Programme, with a minimum of two days per week devoted to working on your awarded project.

How do you define the urban, town and rural categories?

● Urban: the 5 largest cities – Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway.
● Town: Any area outside of the 5 largest cities and their surrounds with a population greater than 5,000 people
● Rural: Any area in the Republic of Ireland outside of urban and town areas as defined above
We are looking for the area where you have the biggest impact.

Can you apply for more than one category?

No, but if your social enterprise is making an impact in more than one area, for example in both town and rural areas, please pick the area where it is making its biggest impact.

Can you make more than one application?

Yes, there is nothing stopping your organisation making more than one application for separate projects, however, it is very unlikely that we will fund more than one project from any organisation.

How does the selection process for the Genesis Programme work?

All applicants who apply and are not awarded a cash grant are eligible for a place on the Genesis Programme. Places on the Genesis Programme will be offered to social
enterprises across Ireland, ensuring that the Social Enterprise Development Fund offers support to social enterprises in every Local Authority area.

What can cash grants be spent on?

The cash grant must be spent on the project that won the award. The specific use of the cash grants will be agreed between Rethink Ireland and the Awardee. Cash grants may not be used to pay off debts or purchase vehicles, land or buildings.

Who will decide who wins the awards?

The selection process is outlined below. Final decisions are made by the Board of Rethink Ireland.

What is the selection process?

The selection process follows includes the following ten steps:

Step 1 – Open call for applications – 21 January until 5 March 2021 inclusive.
Step 2 – Review the applications – this will be done by Rethink Ireland to ensure all conditions have been met and to identify the shortlisted applications.
Step 3 – Shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit a stage 2 application. Shortlisted applicants will be contacted before 20 March 2021.
Step 4 – Stage 2 application deadline – 1 April 2021.
Step 5– Review by Rethink Ireland of stage 2 applications – and marking against the key and advantageous criteria.
Step 6 – External screen of stage 2 applications conducted by external experts and stakeholders.
Step 7 – Finalists for interviews selected and invited for interview.
Step 8 – Interviews held – the finalists will be interviewed by an expert panel chosen by Rethink Ireland between 3 May and 13 May 2021.
Step 9 – Rethink Ireland to do due diligence on projects after interviews. This may include site visits and further research on the projects.
Step 10 – Final decision

If I win a €50,000 investment at the start of the programme, how likely am I to be selected for a share of the €100,000 fund?

All Awardees will have an equal opportunity to pitch for a share of the €100,000 fund.

How do applicants find out where they are in the selection process?

We will contact all applicants by phone or email after final decisions have been made.

What projects are not eligible?

● Projects seeking funds for scholarships
● Projects seeking to fund capital items – buildings, vans, and so on
● Research projects
● Party political projects
● Projects that screen beneficiaries in or out by faith or religious denomination
● Projects that do not provide a benefit to people or the environment, for example, projects that benefit animals only
● Projects where the main impact is outside the Republic of Ireland
● Projects that are an idea (only) and that have not yet started
● Enterprise Centers
● Charity shops

Who is not eligible to apply?

● A person who is younger than 18.
● A person from an entity that has a for-profit legal form (examples of these entities include Companies Limited by Shares or Sole Traders)
● Any staff member from Rethink Ireland and IPB Insurance staff, Directors and their family members. Family members include sibling, parent, spouse or civil
partner or child.

Terms and Conditions

By applying for the Social Enterprise Development Fund, all applicants have agreed to the following four terms and conditions:

1. All applicants warrant that they are over 18 years of age.
2. All applicants warrant that they have engaged fully and truthfully with the application process and will engage fully and truthfully with the selection process. This includes providing full and accurate information, both written and verbal, at all stages of the process.
3. All applicants warrant that they are eligible to apply.
4. All applicants warrant that they have the right to apply. This means that they hold the necessary rights to carry out the project.

Any further questions?

Please contact