A forum to explore the development of social enterprise across Co. Wexford is being held in St. Joseph’s Community Centre in Wexford town, on the morning of Thursday, March 31st, hosted by Wexford Local Development. The forum will include interactive workshops together with presentations from successful local and national projects.

 

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This free event is being held with a view to starting a conversation about the future of social enterprise development in Co. Wexford; a sector that has huge potential for local job creation, while at the same time, responding to  the economic, environmental and social inclusion needs of local communities across the county. A recent Forfás research report found that in Scotland, which is similar in population and size to Ireland, there are 100,000 people employed in the social enterprise sector, while in Ireland the figure was just over 2,000.

The standard definition of a social enterprise is an enterprise that trades for a social purpose; has at least part of its income from trading activity; is separate from government and where any surplus is primarily re-invested in the social objective.

 

Wexford Local Development already works with a number of not-for-profit community organisations who deliver vital local services using the social enterprise model. The venue for the forum, St. Joseph’s Community Centre in Bishopswater, is one such community organisation. The committee of St. Joseph’s receives funding under the national Community Services Programme, which is the only social enterprise state subvention scheme currently available. Staff of Wexford Local Development’s Community Development Team are working with committee members to enhance administrative, governance and business planning skills to support the development of their enterprise model in an area which experiences high levels of unemployment.

 

Another home-grown example of a highly successful social enterprise will be speaking at the forum; Brendan Ennis, the Group Chief Executive of Innovation Wexford, one of Ireland’s leading and proactive social entrepreneurial organisations based at Wexford Enterprise Centre on the Rosslare Road. Innovation Wexford was established in 1986 to combat high levels of unemployment, social exclusion and marginalisation within Co. Wexford. Their mission is to support the creation of sustainable employment through the encouragement and stimulation of private and co-operative enterprise. Brendan is nationally recognised for his innovative approach to Enterprise Development.

 

Joining Brendan on the podium will be Dr. Senan Cooke, founding member of both Dunhill Rural Enterprises Limited and Communities Creating Jobs Limited, based in rural Waterford. Senan is a member of the Expert Advisory Group for the implementation of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA).  He is also a member of the Social Enterprise Task Force (SETF) and the Waterford Social Enterprise Network (WSEN), working to promote the development of social enterprise in Waterford and countrywide.

 

Also speaking will be Duncan Walker who is the Social Enterprise Manager with Walkinstown Green Social Enterprises Ltd, based in Dublin. This not for profit company has renovated a derelict building and opened a new social enterprise comprising of the Green Kitchen Café & Garden Centre.  Their aim is to support people from disadvantaged backgrounds to get an accredited qualification and progress to training, education or employment. Duncan is member of the voluntary Board of the Irish Social Enterprise Network, which is the largest open and inclusive network for social enterprises, social entrepreneurs and social innovators in Ireland.

 

This forum will provide an opportunity for communities to be inspired by experiences, to learn from each other and to put forward ideas for future action and collaboration. Wexford Local Development is committed to providing support for this initiative through both the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme and the upcoming LEADER Programme. A range of services are already available to local social entrepreneurs through WLD’s Enterprise & Employment Team and also on an outreach basis to community groups through the support of Community Development Officers, who are based in the four districts.

 

Groups or aspiring social entrepreneurs wishing to attend the Forum can contact any Wexford Local Development office or phone Tom Bermingham on 053 9155800 for further information.

Registration on the day will start at 9.30am and light networking lunch will be served to close the event.