The Social Enterprise Start-up Fund is an €800,000 Fund which will be delivered over two years: 2021 – 2022. The Fund was created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund. The Department of Rural and Community Development was established in 2017 to provide a renewed and consolidated focus on rural and community development in Ireland. The consolidation into a new Department of both policy and supports in respect of community and rural development provides the means for a greater focus on creating vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities. The Department has responsibility for ensuring arrangements for strong oversight of the charities sector through facilitating the Charities Regulatory Authority in carrying out its independent statutory role. In July 2019 the Department also published Ireland’s first National Policy on Social Enterprise. The Policy is the Government’s framework to develop the sector in the years ahead both in terms of scale and impact.
The objective of the fund is to support social enterprises at the start-up / early stage of their life cycle, to embed strong business principles and, in turn, deliver social impact, create jobs and inspire an emerging, next generation of Irish social enterprises.
The Fund will provide critical support to the most innovative and impactful start-up social enterprises across Ireland, supporting them to:
A social enterprise is a business that works primarily to improve the lives of people. Its business is social good. 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.
In 2021, the fund offers (up to) 25 Awardees:
In 2021, the Fund will support up to 25 social enterprises with cash grants of €9,000 each.
All successful applicants will win a place on our National Accelerator Programme specifically designed for social enterprises. The Accelerator Programme is designed to equip the social enterprises with the tools and techniques needed to expand their business skills and deepen their impact within their communities.
It provides training from best-in-class experts across the private, non-profit and public sector. Training is provided across a range of functions including business modeling, financial sustainability and vision, and mission. By joining the programme, organisations will also gain access to a peer network of the best social enterprises in Ireland.
The Accelerator Programme also includes business supports tailored to the needs of each organisation such as strategic planning, business modeling, and communications.
We invite applications from social enterprises (projects) that are at an early stage of their development and are looking to fully establish themselves in the market.
Rethink Ireland Core 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. We will ask you further questions about this on the Application Form.
* In the context of this Fund, a clear ambition, supported by some research or a clear plan, to impact a critical social issue shall be deemed sufficient.
** Where the proposed social enterprise is developed as a partnership, it is sufficient if the lead applicant is operating as a not-for-profit organisation.
Social Enterprise Start-Up Fund criteria
The project must be a social enterprise which:
***“Traded income is income which is generated from the sale of goods and services. It includes contracts (service level agreements) with state bodies or other state/semi-state bodies where clear deliverables are completed in exchange for a fee. It does not include fundraising income, donation income, or cash grants from government / philanthropic organisations.”
Existing Rethink Ireland Awardee Eligibility
Applications open from Thursday, July 15th
Applications are open from Thursday, July 15th until 1 pm on Tuesday, August 3rd. Applicants are invited to complete a short application form. Based on this application, Rethink Ireland will identify a shortlist of applicants who have met the required criteria and award up to 25 cash grants from the shortlist.
Other important dates
An application clinic will be held via webinar to support potential applicants with any questions they may have on Tuesday, July 20th at 11 am – 12 pm at the following webinar link.
The Social Enterprise Start-up Fund will inform the successful applicants by September 2021, and the public awards announcement will follow.
The Accelerator Programme
The Accelerator Programme will take place between October 2021 and January 2022. During this period the awardees are expected to attend workshops, about once per month, and to meet with their consultants on a regular basis.
What is expected of Awardees?
Awardees will be expected to take part in a four-month Accelerator Programme, with a minimum of two days per month devoted to working on your awarded project.
Can you make more than one application?
No, applicants may only submit one application per social enterprise for the purposes of the Social Enterprise Start-Up Fund.
What can cash grants be spent on?
The cash grant must be spent on the social enterprise/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 or to fund research.
Who will decide who wins the awards?
As outlined above, an internal team will review and shortlist applications. Final decisions are made by the Board of Rethink Ireland and the Minister for Rural and Community Development.
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?
Who is not eligible to apply?
By applying for the Social Enterprise Start-Up Fund, all applicants have agreed to the following terms and conditions.