The Social Enterprise Step Up Fund 2023-24 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 welcomes applications from established, mid-sized social enterprises with the aim of supporting them to be ready to scale. The Fund will provide cash grants and business support for social enterprise leaders to deepen their business models. We will support organisations to ultimately scale out to other locations, or scale up their services across Ireland. Targeted training in areas such as public procurement, developing service level agreements and acquiring accreditation for training delivery are just some of the areas that could make a significant difference to the scalability and sustainability of the enterprises and thus their impact.
This new Fund focuses on elevated funding for enterprises at the next stage and will help support and expand the social enterprise ecosystem in Ireland.
You can apply to the Social Enterprise Step Up Fund via the online portal from Wednesday September 7th to Wednesday October 19th at 1pm.
If you would like to know more, please join us for one of our application clinics:
Wednesday, 21st September 12pm: this link
Thursday, 6th October 12pm: this link
Each session will entail a short presentation followed by an open Q&A session, offering you an opportunity to bring any questions you may have regarding the application process to the Fund team.
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:
The key criteria that applicants will need to demonstrate are:
The applications will also be assessed on how well they demonstrate their social enterprise:
A social enterprise is a business that works primarily to improve the lives of people. Its business is social good.
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.
What does the Fund offer?
The fund offers (up to) 6 Awardees an Awards package of up to €133,750:
Up to 6 Social Enterprises will receive a package of supports worth a maximum of €133,750 each in total. This will include cash grants of €118,750, paid in four instalments upon delivery of agreed milestones.
Business Support Budget
In addition, Awardees will receive a budget for business supports worth €15,000 each. Business supports will be tailored to the specific needs of each project and carried out by approved consultants, focusing on creating social impact in line with their Theory of Change and strategic plan.
All successful applicants will win a place on Ireland’s first National Accelerator Programme specifically designed for social enterprises. The Accelerator Programme will equip social enterprises with the skills they need to scale and deepen their social impact.
The intensive and practical 2-year Programme provides training from best-in-class experts in the private, nonprofit and public sector on key functions such as Strategic Planning, Impact Measurement, Financial Management, Governance, Business Modelling, Pitching, Storytelling and more.
“Rethink Ireland helped us set out clear indicators for growth across our social, economic and environmental impact. The marketing support helped to generate leads in almost every county in Ireland. After working with Rethink Ireland our vision changed from working on a regional level to becoming a national social enterprise”.
Martin Ward- Bounce Back Recycling
“I know we’ll be able to deliver on our ambitious strategic plan because we’ve such a great foundation now in terms of our structure, which was why it was great getting the non-financial support as well the cash. For us the mixture of the two was just perfect and we were delighted with both.”
Helen Nolan, Spraoi agus Spórt
For a cash grant:
We are seeking applications from social enterprises that:
*Social enterprises can sit within larger not-for-profit organisations, such as charities and voluntary organisations
Applications to this Fund have now closed.
What is expected of Awardees?
Awardees will be expected to take part in a two-year Accelerator Programme, with a minimum of two days per week devoted to working on your awarded social enterprise.
Can you make more than one application?
Yes, there is nothing stopping your organisation making more than one application for separate social enterprises. However, it is very unlikely that we will fund more than one social enterprise from any organisation.
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.
Just as innovation is necessary for economic growth, we believe innovation is critical to societal and economic progress.
What do you mean by income created?
Traded income is that 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.
If your social enterprise is part of a bigger (parent) organisation, you may need to differentiate between the income generated by both entities. This could be done via management accounts for the social enterprise specifically.
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?
Final decisions are made by the Board of Rethink Ireland.
What projects are not eligible?
Who is not eligible to apply?
By applying for the Social Enterprise Step-Up Fund, you agree to the following terms and conditions.
We will run application clinics, providing you with an overview of the application process and what to expect and to give you a chance to ask any questions you may have.
Alternatively, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any unanswered questions you may have.