Closed Fund

Start a Social Enterprise Business Course 2024

Closing Date
In partnership with:

Rethink Ireland is happy to be offering places on its Start a Social Enterprise Business Course, now running for its third consecutive year. In partnership with IPB Insurance and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund, Rethink Ireland will be providing you the opportunity to participate in this one of a kind, Start a Social Enterprise Business Course, as well as the chance to take your idea to the next level once the course is complete.

A key strategic objective for Rethink Ireland is to support social enterprises to grow, scale their operations, and deepen their social impact. We do this for social enterprises at all stages of growth. This course represents an innovative approach to developing and supporting grassroots social enterprise ideas in Ireland. It takes the social innovator’s emerging idea and gives them the tools to take it to the next stage. It is the launchpad and, importantly, a pathway to additional support. In turn, it supports a new generation of social enterprises to deliver social impact, create jobs, and tackle societal challenges.

Do you want to hear from previous participants of the course? Click here. 

What is a Social Enterprise?

Social enterprises are organisations whose mission is to have a positive effect on society. They generate revenue through their products or services and reinvest their profits back into their social mission.

Social enterprises are innovating every day by inventing and developing solutions to Ireland’s most pressing social issues. They are creating jobs, supporting members of marginalised communities, and fostering community development. We believe there is a need to champion and invest in these social enterprises to allow them to expand their impact and spread their solutions throughout the country.

What does the course offer?

The Start a Social Enterprise Business Course is a six-week course that covers the key areas to support you as you start your own successful social enterprise. This includes:

  • Six online workshops and one in-person event
  • Access to a network of aspiring social enterprise founders
  • A workbook that supports you to build strong foundations for your social enterprise
  • The chance to apply for follow-on business supports to the value of €10,000 and access to a bespoke Accelerator programme

The course uses specialist training in business skills and social impact to achieve the following:

  • Increase the knowledge of the steps to starting a social enterprise
  • Provide a clear pathway to the development of a social enterprise
  • Build the skills of participants to support them in taking their idea to the next level
  • Support the growth of the social economy in Ireland
  • Increase the sustainability of start-up social enterprises
  • Provide a potential route for participants onto other funds
  • Raise awareness among innovators of the benefits of the social economy
  • Increase the skills and knowledge within the sector
  • Become part of a network of start-up social enterprises

Where and when will the course take place?

The course will be held online over six mornings as well as one in-person day for up to fifty participants. The first day of the course will be Wednesday 24th of April 2024 and will subsequently take place on the following five Wednesday mornings. The sessions will run from 10 am until 12.30 pm with different industry experts each week. The in-person day will take place at the end of the course, on a date to be confirmed in June, and will involve networking, workshops, and guest speakers.

Who can apply?

This course will support an emerging social enterprise idea and give the participants the tools to take it to the next stage of development. The course will be aimed at:

  • Idea stage social enterprises (All you need is an idea, testing and building on your idea will be part of the course work)
  • Unincorporated individuals or groups undertaking work at a local level
  • Staff within organisations who want to explore the establishment of a social enterprise within their organisation

Please note, that all ideas must have their main impact in the Republic of Ireland.

How do we apply?

Applications are open from Wednesday 29th February until Thursday 4th April 2024. At this point, applicants are invited to complete a short application form. Based on this initial submission, Rethink Ireland will identify a shortlist of applicants on the basis of the innovative idea for the social enterprise. All courses held since 2022 were oversubscribed so we are only accepting one application per organisation. All projects must be based and have their impact in Ireland.

Please note, only one person from any one organisation can attend the course at the same time.

You can apply for the Start a Social Enterprise Business Course via the online portal here. Please choose ‘ IPB social enterprise 2024’ under open funds when you apply.

Please contact should you require further information.



Where will the course take place?

The course is almost fully remote and will take place via a Zoom link every Wednesday for the duration of the programme. We will have one in-person event at the end of the course, with a date to be confirmed sometime in June.

Do I have to show any evidence of my social enterprise being up and running?

No, all we require at this stage is an idea for a social enterprise that aims to tackle a social issue.

Is there a cost to join the course?

There is no cost to join the course. Applicants will be shortlisted and chosen based on their idea’s potential for social impact.

How can I apply for the follow-up €10,000 business supports and Accelerator Programme award?

Details on how to apply for these awards will be shared after the course commences. Applicants will need to meet Rethink Ireland’s core criteria and additional social enterprise criteria.


By applying for the Start a Social Enterprise Business Course, you agree to the following terms and conditions.

  • By sending in your application, you accept these terms and conditions and our Privacy Statement. You may be disqualified if you do not comply with these terms and conditions.
  • Rethink Ireland will hold the personal details you submitted with your application form. We will only share this information with the third parties administering the application and selection process unless we agree otherwise with you. Please see our Privacy Statement for full details.
  • Successful participants agree to take part in publicity about the course. Rethink Ireland reserves the right to publish the names of organisations that are successful in their applications.
  • Rethink Ireland reserves the right to disqualify any entrant, to change the terms and conditions without notice, or to cancel the application process at any stage.

Please contact should you require further information.