On November 15th Thomond Park played host to the first National Social Enterprise Forum and Expo. The event was organised by PAUL Partnership Limerick in association with the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) – the representative body for Local Development Companies across Ireland.

The Forum reflected the increasing focus on the role of Social Enterprise in delivering positive change for communities across Ireland. It provided a timely opportunity for those involved in a Social Enterprise to network with other enterprises from across the country, to share ideas, and to learn from others’ experiences.

The Expo showcased some of the best examples of Social Enterprises from the region and beyond as well as the range of supports available to Social Enterprises. Speakers included Dr. Sarah Miller form the Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun, Kenny Deery from the Achill Experience in Co. Mayo, Lorraine Corcoran from Afanite Consultants, Dr. Senan Cooke from Dunhill Ecopark in Waterford, Helen Fitzgerald from PAUL Partnership, and Dr. Briga Hynes from the Kemmy Business School in UL.

Attendees also had the opportunity to visit Social Enterprises in Limerick City to see the work they are doing in communities.

Feedback from attendees at the event in relation to the support needs of Social Enterprises revealed that supports were needed most in relation to business and feasibility planning and tendering, grant and funding applications.  The table below provides a snapshot of  the feedback.


Event Coordinator and Social Enterprise Development Officer with PAUL Partnership Limerick, Michael Gleeson, explained, “The event aimed to assist social enterprises with their practical, everyday challenges. It’s a tough balancing act to run an enterprise efficiently so that it is sustainable, while keeping your focus firmly on the community or target group you are working with. This event directly addressed the sector’s challenges and showcased practical solutions.”

Chairperson of Irish Local Development Network, Marie Price Bolger, outlined the need for supports for the sector, “There are 11 million workers in the EU engaged in social enterprise, equal to 6.5% of the workforce. There is much more we can do to support these enterprises locally and boost services and employment in hard-hit communities throughout the country.  With 15 different Local Development Companies collaborating to support this event and even more attending, the day itself was a great example of what can be accomplished when people work together.”

Presentations from the Event can be downloaded from the links below:

Sarah Millar – Rediscover Centre Ballymun

Kenny Deery – The Achill Experience

Lorraine Corcoran – Realising the Potential of Social Enterprise

Helen Fitzgerald – Social Enterprise Impact – Telling your Story – Final

Senan Cooke – Social Enterprise is a Transforming Agent

To read a full account of the event by one of the attendees, click here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/national-social-enterprise-forum-expo-november-15th-2018-irvine 

15/11/2018 National Social Enterprise Forum and Expo 2018. Attending the event which took place at Thomond Park were Dr. Senan Cooke, Communities Creating Jobs, Lorraine Corcoran, Afanite Limited, Dr. Sarah Miller, CEO, Rediscovery Centre, Helen Fitzgerald, Co-ordinator of Research, Monitoring and Communications, PAUL Partnership and Kenny Deery, Regional Engagement Manager, PorterShed.
Pic: Gareth Williams / Press 22