A National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland was launched this week. The Dept. of Rural and Community Development has responsibility for Social Enterprise since 2017. This is the first Government Policy for Social Enterprise in the history of the State.
It aims to support social enterprises to grow in scale, support jobs, and make a positive impact on individuals and communities in both rural and urban areas. .
Leitrim PPN’s member groups include social enterprises. These range from childcare facilities to tourism attractions and many other enterprises in between. The policy acknowledges the diversity of enterprises and establishes a definition for the Irish context.
Policy Objectives in Brief:
The Policy is focused on three key Objectives:
- Building Awareness of Social Enterprise;
- Growing and Strengthening Social Enterprise and
- Achieving Better Policy Alignment.
It sets out a series of commitments on the part of Government under each Objectives to support the development of social enterprise over the period 2019-2022. These commitments will be delivered in partnership with social enterprise stakeholders – Local Authorities, Education Providers, Local Enterprise Offices, Communities, etc.
The range of commitments under each objective are set out briefly below.
- Develop an Awareness Strategy Highlight best practice
- Hold an Annual Social Enterprise Conference
- Target support for start-ups
- Further include training and modules at all levels of education
- Work with education and research bodies to further support the development of social enterprise
Grow & Strengthen
- Compile and issue info on available business supports and providers
- Identify and address gaps in available business and financial supports
- Improve access to advice and supports for developing business proposals.
- Tailored training for social enterprises in -business planning, mentoring, leadership, governance, capacity building, financial planning and digital innovation.
- Identify and catalogue the national and EU funding schemes and how to access them
- Explore the potential for innovative funding schemes (repayable and non-repayable) including access to the EU Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) guarantee scheme for loan funding.
- Examine potential for leveraging more private sector investment – philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
- Look at how to improve alignment of Govt. funding schemes whilst avoiding displacement of existing supports for Community and Voluntary orgs.
- Workshops and training in relation to procurement processes
- Identify how to improve opportunities in the business-to-business supply-chain and in public procurement.
- Through the Social Considerations Advisory Group, help policy makers to better understand how procurement can facilitate social policy objectives within appropriate and structured public procurement guidelines.
- Research and analysis on existing legal structures. Assess the potential value of a distinct legal form for social enterprises.
Better Policy Alignment
- Enhance understanding of the interaction between social enterprises and government to better deliver on policy objectives.
- Ensure engagement, influence and benefit for social enterprise at international level – policy, networks and support.
- Continue to contribute to the work of the British Irish Council in relation to social enterprise.
- Improve data collection relating to the extent and areas in which social enterprises operate
Find ways to measure the social and economic impact of social enterprises.
Implementing the Policy
In order the ensure the commitments of the policy objectives are carried out, the Dept. of Rural & Community Development (DRCD) will establish a National Social Enterprise Policy Implementation Group.
This will be chaired by DRCD and have representatives from ote Department of Rural and Community Development, with representation from other Government Departments, public bodies and social enterprise stakeholders.
Annual updates will be published and the entire policy is scheduled for review in 2021.
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