Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise 

Social Enterprises are part of a diverse and steadily growing sector globally, nationally and in Dublin. They are being increasingly recognised as an effective means for delivering community, social and economic development through innovative, integrated and cooperative methods and operations. In Dublin; social enterprises, social entrepreneurs and associated support organisations have been steadily increasing and developing over the last few years.

So what is a social enterprise?

According to the National Social Enterprise Policy – a social enterprise is:

Social Enterprise Definition

Social Enterprises typically trade for a social / societal purpose; are independent; and primarily re-invest surplus or profits in their respective social objective. They are of great importance to Dublin and to local communities as they typically bring about economic benefits such as job creation (often for those who are marginalised); community benefits such as social inclusion or education; and policy benefits such as service delivery or active citizenship.

Interested in starting a social enterprise?

If you are interested in starting a social enterprise, supports are available from many different organisations such as Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Offices, Local Development Companies / Partnerships, Accelerators & Networks which are listed in the Social Enterprise Toolkittable below.                                                                                       

A key resource which was developed in an Irish context is the Social Enterprise Toolkit.

The extensive toolkit provides information on structure, mission, 

marketing and market research, managing finance and

general management. It also features various case studies and

resources on measuring social impact.

The toolkit can is available to download

LEO Dublin City supports for Social Enterprises


Social enterprises can join the regular training courses run by the LEO Dublin City on topics such as start your own business, sales, tax, marketing, social media etc. Upcoming training courses and workshops are listed here

Mentoring / Advice

Mentors on the LEO Dublin panel are experienced business people who can offer specialist advice to enterprises / social enterprises on addressing challenges and opportunities. A number of the mentors have previous experience mentoring social enterprises. Apply for mentoring here

Grants / Finance

The LEO provides a number of different grants. These are primarily for commercial / for profit enterprises so it will depend on the structure of the social enterprise whether it is eligible to apply. Check the LEO Grants eligibility criteria here. The Trading Online Voucher is open to social enterprise that operate in the commercial domain and on a non-profit basis. Further information is available here

Dublin City Social Enterprise Awards

This scheme provides mentoring, support and funding to selected social enterprises. The purpose of the awards are to support social enterprises to start and grow in Dublin city. It opens for applications usually in March each year. Sign up to the LEO Ezine to be informed when it opens again. Videos of previous awardees are available here

Awardees receive: 

  • €5,000-€15,000 Funding
  • Publicity / Promotion Opportuntities
  • Mentoring / Advice
  • Other supports

Social Enterprise Support Organisations

Support OrganisationSupports Website
Dublin City CouncilEvents; Dublin City Social Enterprise Awards

Local Enterprise Office Dublin City

Advice; Mentoring; Training; Grants*
Carmichael IrelandAdvice; Mentoring; Training; Office Space

Eastside Dockland Local Employment ServiceTraining, Mentoring, Advice
Inner City EnterpriseTraining, Mentoring,
Dublin South City PartnershipTraining, Mentoring,
Ballyfermot Chapelizod PartnershipTraining, Mentoring,
Dublin North West Area PartnershipTraining, Mentoring,
Dublin City Community CooperativeTraining, Mentoring, 
Northside PartnershipTraining, Mentoring, Advice
F2 CentreSpace
Startup BallymunAdvice, Network
Innovate DublinSpace, Advice

Local Enterprise Office Dun Laoghaire Rathdown

Training, Mentoring, Advice, Grants*
Southside Partnership DLRTraining, Mentoring, Advice  
Local Enterprise Office South DublinTraining, Mentoring, Advice, Grants*
South Dublin County PartnershipTraining, Mentoring, Advice
Local Enterprise Office FingalTraining, Mentoring, Advice, Grants*
Fingal LEADER PartnershipTraining, Mentoring, Advice
The WheelAdvice, Information
PobalAdvice, Information
Irish Social Enterprise NetworkEvents, Advice, 
Community Reuse NetworkEvents, Advice, Resources

Rethink IrelandEvents, Awards, Funds, Training, Mentoring
An Cosan – Virtual Community CollegeTraining, Accredited Courses

Clann CredoLoans
Community Finance IrelandLoans
Microinfance IrelandLoans

*Eligibility criteria apply

Other Information

Dublin City Council also supports social enterprise and innovation development through the Dublin City Social Enterprise Committee (SEC). This committee is comprised of key social enterprise stakeholders and representatives and reports to the Economic Development, and Enterprise Strategic Policy Committee of Dublin City Council. The SEC has adopted a strategic approach which includes:

  • The Social Enterprise Committee will identify specific areas of need and opportunity for social enterprise as an opportunity for co-creation within the council
  • The Social Enterprise Committee will review suitable business sectors for Social Enterprise particularly strong growth sectors that have a developed ecosystem and that have significant scale  or potential to grow in Dublin City.

The work of the committee and the various social enterprise initiatives conducted by LEO Dublin City align with the:

National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019 - 2022

The Economic Development Office / Local Enterprise Office - of Dublin City Council have produced a number of research reports and initiatives regarding social enterprise / social economy development. These can be viewed in the Research section