Monday, June 26, 2017

Cover story - Look Good, Do Good! Entrepreneurs and their communities

Read the full article in Issue 56 - Winter 2016/’17 of ‘Changing Ireland’!
5 top Social Entrepreneurs in Dublin:
€45,000 handed out to spur on communities

Five thrilled winners were presented with 5,000 to 15,000 cheques as award winners in Social Enterprise on December 15. The awards were presented by Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English.

   Minister English didn’t go away empty handed himself - he was presented with a hand-made navy-blue ‘House of Akina’ dickey-bow by project co-founder Lye Ogunsanya. Ryan Tubridy already wears one.
   The ceremony took place at the Hugh Lane Art Gallery in Dublin.The winners were: Re-create; The Yard at Solas Project; House of Aki-na; Aspire Productions; and Third Space.
   Dublin’s Social Enterprise Grant Scheme Awards was established in 2015 to raise awareness and reward the important work being done by Social Entrepreneurs in the city.
   At this year’s awards, a total of €45,000 was handed over to ve winning projects to further develop their operations and organisations.
   Evanne Kilmurray, CEO, Inner City Enterprise, said that social enterprises in the City “play a key role in rejuvenating many of the local communities and have long lasting impacts in terms of job creation and provision of real social services.”

   The awards help to showcase what social enterprise can achieve in our communities.
The scheme was launched “to address the gap for accessing funding for start up social enterprises” and Evanne said funding and mentoring makes “a vital di erence”.
   Minister English praised the important work done, saying: “Social Enterprise is the up and coming way to give ownership back to a community by delivering much needed local services in an e cient manner using self sustaining enterprises.”


Aspire Productions

   Aspire Productions is the name of a new social enterprise based in Dublin that can produce high quality, low cost media products on demand. The production team consist of people with Asperger Syndrome.
   The project taps into their creative side and provides employment and a commercial service in the community.
   Manager, Aileen Cruise, described the disability: “Some people with Aspergers see the world in a really black and white way and, because of that, it’s difficult for them to get employment, but they can also be incredibly creative.

 “We’ve made an animated documentary about Aspergers – what it is and what it isn’t. The ten-minute feature was supposed to be launched six months ago, but they’re perfectionists,” said Aileen.
   So, crucially, can the team work to deadlines?
The answer is ‘Yes’: The group entered The Wheel’s ‘Better Ireland’ video competition and their entry was “done and edited on time,” said Aileen. Once they have a deadline, they meet it. 
   Aileen refers to the group as “the lads”. She said this is because the ratio of men to women with Aspergers is 9:1.
   “More men are diagnosed. Women have Aspergers as well but women are better at modelling the behaviour of others. We’ve all men attending at the moment, so I just talk about the group as ‘the lads’.
   “They may have to learn coping skills to fit in with society, but I don’t want them to have to change,” she said. 
   The team’s skills range covers animation, direction, storyboarding, project management, leadership, writing, editing, sound and lighting. The team’s “unique outlook on the world reflects on the end result” said Aileen. 
   Aspire has for 21 years been supporting people with Aspergers to access the same opportunities as their peers and meet their full potential. 

House of Akina

   House of Akina’s slogan is “Look good, Do good” promoting the idea that you can spend your money on trendy yet ethical products that do good for those marginalised in society.
   The social enterprise works to support women living in direct provision in Ireland. It creates handmade, limited edition items of clothing, mainly accessories such as bow ties, pocket squares etc. 
   Products are made by women who have been through the Irish direct provision system and now have the legal right to work and remain in Ireland. 
   Profits are used to facilitate workshops to support and educate marginalised Migrant Women in Ireland in order to facilitate better integration of new communities.  

   ReCreate collects clean, end of line materials from business and redistributes them for all kinds of creative and artistic purposes.
   The concept, Creative Reuse, encourages the whole community to reuse everyday materials that are normally being thrown away, in all kinds of inventive ways. Members pay a set annual fee and have unlimited access to ReCreate’s materials. The idea is to nurture fun, creativity, holistic development of the individual and care for the environment by diverting materials from re ll through resource exchange. It affords quality employment to a range of individuals including people who have been long-term unemployed and people with a physical, sensory and intellectual disability.


   Third Space was set up to open and run eating and meeting places in the redeveloped areas of Dublin that lack these community spaces.
   Each Third Space serves as a community hub where people can gather regularly, informally and inexpensively.
   Built around a simple but great menu, an excellent team and an informal environment they will nurture a creative buzz that re ects the vibrant variety of life at the heart of a modern urban community.
   The first Third Space has become a hub for the community in the Smith eld area of Dublin and has helped in the transformation of the area.
   That was just the start. New outlets are expected to open in other areas in 2017.

   The Yard Crew is one of ve projects run by The Solas Project in South Inner City Dublin. It works mostly with men aged between 15 and 24 years.
   They produce woodwork products from bowls to pens to full size canoes, which are then sold to partly fund the programme.
   There is “no huge formality” about young people joining us here, said Eddie Darcy, CEO.
   They aim to broaden the horizons for young people not in employment, education or training who come from challenging backgrounds. Some will have experienced homelessness, poverty and alcohol or drug misuse. After taking part in a 16-week course with ‘The Yard Crew’, they will walk out with work experience, practical woodwork skills, bicycle maintenance skills and the ins and outs of running a social enterprise.
   The programme runs three times a year.
   The Yard gives young people the skills, knowledge and con dence to empower them to fulfil their personal and professional potential.


   Behind the awards are: the Inner City Enterprise, which formed a partnership with Dublin Local Enterprise Of ce, the Irish Social Enterprise Network, the Carmichael Centre, Dublin City Council and Dublin City University. Their aim is to promote practical business supports to social enterprises in Dublin city.
   The Social Enterprise Grant Award Scheme was established in 2015 to raise awareness of and promote and reward the important work being done by entrepreneurs in the capital.
   Support has also been provided to the entrepreneurs through the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme, which is co- funded under the European Social Fund. 

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