Government research partnership with the Social Finance Foundation will support the development of a world class social enterprise policy for Ireland. 

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, has today announced a major initiative to support and develop the social enterprise sector in Ireland.

Speaking at the premises of Speedpak in Coolock, Dublin Minister Ring said: “While many studies have been conducted on the social enterprise sector in Ireland, there has been a gap up to now in terms of a cohesive national policy and roadmap for that sector.  I am delighted to announce that my Department has partnered with the Social Finance Foundation (SFF) to conduct new research which will support the development of such a policy. I am confident that this research will underpin a world class social enterprise policy for Ireland.

“I have established a Steering Group to oversee the research, involving key Government Departments and experienced social enterprise practitioners. I want to thank the SFF for their input to this project and I look forward to seeing the results of the work towards the end of this year. This research will assist the Government in formulating a comprehensive policy and road map for the social enterprise sector which will reflect the Government’s commitment to that sector.”

Minister Ring added: “As our economy continues to improve, it is vital that we continue to support people who wish to create jobs and services and rebuild their communities.  When these jobs are created in enterprises with a genuine commitment to reinvesting in social and community progress, it benefits everyone. Social enterprises also benefit from the unparalleled commitment amongst Irish people to volunteering and community work and I wish to put on record my appreciation for that effort and the huge contribution it makes to Irish society.”

Brendan Whelan, Chairman of the Social Enterprise Task Force (SETF) and CEO of SFF, said that the initiative is very much welcomed by the social enterprise sector in Ireland. “SFF is pleased to act on behalf of the SETF in partnership with the Department. It represents an opportunity to deliver on our own motto of “Finance for Social Good”.  SETF is a coalition of interests promoting the cause of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship in Ireland.”




Daniel Rowan
Media Adviser to Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development 087 6177320 

Notes for Editors

Social enterprises differ from commercial enterprises in that they have a social mission and re-invest surpluses back into the organisation. A proportion of their income comes from trading in goods or services. Social enterprise has a long-standing presence in Ireland, building on deep roots of community organisation, self-help and enthusiasm for enterprise.

Under the Action Plan for Rural Development, the Government has committed to developing a national policy on Social Enterprise, with responsibility for coordinating the development of this policy falling under the remit of the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, T.D.  The Minister’s Department has formed a partnership with the Social Finance Foundation to produce research which will directly inform and feed into the development of the new National Policy for Social Enterprise in Ireland.

The policy is scheduled to be completed in early 2018 and its development will involve wide ranging consultation with relevant stakeholders in the public, private and social sectors as part of the research project.

Minister Ring has established a Steering Group, made up of representatives from the social enterprise sector and key Government Departments, to provide strategic oversight and direction in relation to the conducting of the research and in reviewing its progress and findings.  The Steering Group, which is chaired by a senior official from the Department of Rural and Community Development, met today to discuss progress on the ongoing research in the offices of the Speedpak Group, a social enterprise based in North County Dublin.    

Government Support for social enterprise

A number of Government Departments currently engage with the Social Enterprise sector and provide supports through a range of programmes and schemes.  These include:

  • the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme
  • LEADER funding
  • Dormant Accounts Funding
  • Community Services Programme
  • Community Employment schemes and
  • Wage Subsidy Scheme for the employment of people with disabilities.
  • Social Finance Foundation (SFF)

SFF was set up as a joint venture between the Government and the Banking Sector to act as a wholesale supplier of social finance for onward lending to support social enterprises and community organisations.

SFF has entered into other partnerships with Government Departments to deliver key initiatives.  In 2012, SFF was given responsibility by the then Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation for the administration of a Government-funded Microfinance Loan Fund to promote job creation by supporting new and existing micro-enterprises.  MicroFinance Ireland was established as a subsidiary of SFF to discharge this responsibility.

In 2015, SFF partnered with the Department of Social Protection and the Irish League of Credit Unions to deliver a Personal Micro Credit pilot initiative.  The ‘It Makes Sense’ Loan is now available in over 200 credit union sites.  This loan is a product that matches the convenience and ease of moneylenders’ offers at a fraction of the cost and within prudential lending guidelines.

For further information see: