CAPTION: A year ago – last July 19 – the Government’s first National Social Enterprise Policy was launched and, in November, the first National Social Enterprise Conference (run by the Department of Rural and Community Development) took place in Croke Park. Pictured among the attendees are two of the founders of a new body launched today called ‘Social Enterprise Republic of Ireland’ (Seri) – Larry O’Neill, CEO of South Dublin County Partnership and Senan Cooke, author of ‘The Enterprising Community’. They are pictured here with Bernie Walshe from Sunflower Recycling. (PHOTO BY: Changing Ireland).

Heavy hitters in the world of social enterprise have put their back into setting up a new membership association to represent the sector in the Republic, REPORTS ALLEN MEAGHER. The new organisation – headed up by interim CEO, Tammy Darcy – was officially launched today.

“My uppermost ambition is that the sector is recognised as a distinct sector and has a united voice in Ireland,” she told us in an interview this morning.

Seri will represent the Republic at the next Enterprise World Forum.

Asked why they are launching a new association in the midst of a pandemic, Tammy – founder of the Shona Project in Waterford – said: “During the pandemic, we’ve seen the need for representation for social enterprises at national level. In a crisis, social enterprises are more resilient. For example, we’ve just advertised a new job in the Shona project. Social enterprises are able to create impact and solve societal problems… Our jobs are more resilient.”

·      Tammy Darcy, interim CEO of Seri and founder and CEO of the Shona Project based in Waterford.

She said that social enterprises have “never been more needed than now”. In an earlier press statement, Darcy also predicted, “The sector will play a leading and powerful role as we move through the current crisis and into recovery.”

Seri’s founders include community leaders from around the country – from Padraig Casey in Ballyhoura Development to Larry O’Neill and John Murphy in Dublin, and author Senan Cooke in Dunhill.

Lending his support in a voluntary capacity as chairperson of the new body is former Barnardos chief, Fergus Finlay, who said: “We will forge a new beginning for social enterprise and will grow this sector to benefit all our people and communities throughout the Republic of Ireland.”

Other founding members include:

  • Brendan Whelan: CEO Social Finance Foundation
  • Lorraine Corcoran CEO: Afanite.
  • Michele Fogarty: Co-Founder Peptalk.
  • John Kearns: CEO Partas.
  • Karen Leigh: CEO and Founder, Sensational Kids
  • Darren Ryan : CEO Social Entrepreneurs Ireland

Welcoming SERI, MyMind CEO Krystian Fikert said, “We are living in challenging economic times during COVID-19. Social enterprises will flourish in response to society’s needs by making services accessible and affordable. This will help the Irish economy to grow faster in a sustainable way. Now is the time for Government to recognise the social enterprise sector as a solution to building a better future in Ireland.”

Seri membership is free for now, until Seri’s founders feel the organisation is proving its worth. Community-based social enterprises are encouraged to sign up and supporters can also join as individuals.

You can contact or call on Seri for support anytime. For more general queries, ask Siri!