The provision of €945,000 to support hundreds of social enterprises across the country, many in rural areas, has been announced today (Thursday, July 8).

Social enterprises are businesses that work primarily to “improve the lives of people”. Their objective is to achieve a social, societal or environmental impact.

The programme – Covid-19 Social Enterprise Regeneration Programme – will be delivered by Local Development Companies (LDCs) on a regional basis and will be managed on the Department of Rural Development’s behalf by the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN).

The LDCs will play a role in providing training and mentoring supports to approximately 500 social enterprises – assisting them in “strengthening their operations and improving their services post Covid-19”.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the invaluable role played by social enterprises in their communities,” Minister for Rural Development Heather Humphreys said.

“Across Ireland throughout this pandemic, social enterprises have made an important contribution in areas such as mental health, social inclusion and the circular economy.”

In February, the minister announced an €800,000 call for proposals from LDCs.

Given the “high level of interest and quality of the applications”, the minister has increased the allocation to €945,000, which will benefit “12 specific projects and hundreds of social enterprises”.

The programme is funded through the Department of Rural and Community Development’s Dormant Accounts Fund, and will provide free training and mentoring to social enterprise managers, directors and staff.

It will help to “build their capacity in areas such as strategic planning, digital innovation, capacity building and governance”.

“The regional rollout of the scheme contributes positively to the commitment under Our Rural Future to deliver a suite of new measures to support the development of social enterprises in rural [areas] and to contribute to job creation locally,” the minister added.

Full details of the consortia receiving funding under the programme are available online.