The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) is running a competition with €45,000 in prizes for social enterprises that best demonstrate their social impact. The application process was designed to be as straight-forward and user-friendly as possible and the deadline is coming fast – Sunday, December 10th.

Through the Social Enterprise Impact Awards competition, the ILDN’s network of 49 local development companies aims to promote and reward good practice by social enterprises in the evaluation of social impact.

The competition has three categories – small social enterprise, medium/large social enterprise, and young social enterprise – with winners in each category receiving a grant of €10,000, and runners up in each category receiving a grant of €5,000.

Social enterprises must give a clear account of the evidence they use to communicate the scale and scope of their social impact. They should explain how they collect the evidence, the insights it provides, and how it affirms the organisation’s effectiveness in pursuing its social mission. The organisers are looking for impact in terms of outcomes for individuals, positive change over time, and the effect of the social enterprise’s activity within the community.


Local development companies have a long and proud tradition of initiating and supporting social enterprises around the country that bring a multi layered set of benefits to disadvantaged communities in rural and urban Ireland.

Approximately 40 LDCs employ a dedicated staff member to work with and support social enterprises. In addition, every LDC has LEADER and SICAP programme staff who work with social enterprises. They have years of experience in upskilling others to develop and manage social enterprises.


The ILDN’s Social Enterprise Impact Awards is supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Dormant Accounts Fund. More information (including application form and call for applications) is available on the ILDN’s website ( It includes a link to a short workshop held in early November to explain the competition’s ins and outs.

It will culminate, next February, in an awards ceremony to be held in Dublin.


Social enterprises are defined as businesses whose core objective is to achieve a social, societal or environmental impact. Like other businesses, they trade in goods or services on an ongoing basis. However, any surpluses they generate are re-invested into achieving a social impact.


A Baseline Data Collection Exercise conducted this year by the ILDN, Social Enterprise Republic of Ireland, and Amarach Research counted over 4,300 social enterprises, whose services feed into a range of key community services, including childcare, health and social care, heritage, the arts, sport and leisure, housing, and the environment. The survey estimated the economic impact of social enterprises at €2.34bn, and claimed that, in addition to 75,000 volunteers, around 84,000 people are “employed within the sector”.

Trustworthy social enterprises have never been more important