Social enterprises are 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 generated by social enterprises are re-invested into achieving a social impact, rather than maximising profit for their owners.
In October, I launched a call for proposals under a pilot Small Capital Grants Scheme for Social Enterprises. The scheme, which is administered by the Local Development Companies on behalf of my Department, provides grants of between €2,000 and €15,000 for equipment, repairs or refurbishments to enable social enterprises to improve their service delivery.
My Department received an overwhelming response to this call for funding, which was heavily over-subscribed. Approximately 1,100 organisations, seeking a total amount of funding in excess of €11 million, applied for funding.
Many applicants did not appear to meet the definition of a social enterprise set out in the National Social Enterprise Policy, which was in the guidelines and application form for the scheme. In particular, the requirement for the enterprise to be trading on an on-going basis did not apply to a significant number of applicants.
I understand that the organisation referred to by the Deputy was not considered by the relevant Local Development Company to meet the definition of a social enterprises and was advised accordingly by the LDC.
On 9th December, I announced the allocation of €1 million in funding from the Dormant Accounts Fund to 124 social enterprise projects across the country under the scheme.