ISEN Aug 2014“There’s something refreshing about young social enterprises in Ireland”.  Guest blogger Danielle Byrne reflects on our recent ISEN event…..

I have greatly enjoyed attending the “Story Exchange” open mic events this year at the Irish Social Enterprise Network / Ryan Academy / Menter Iontach Nua speaker series events. You probably know the format: several individuals get the opportunity to stand up and make a pitch. In Story Exchange the speakers are asked to tell us their story and then to state their needs. Discussion, suggestions and advice then follow from the floor. Here are my impressions of the two events:

The speakers were mainly start-up and would-be social enterprises.  And if my scrappy notes serve me well they included an impressive array:

A pop-up venues business
A community theatre
An inner-city growing/marking garden project with training and community development elements
A construction company serving social housing
A creative arts support agency
A digital life-story archive
Social farming
A maths-teaching project for kids
An indigenous seed project

Some speakers were diffident in naming what they needed by way of support. But here is a good flavour of the requests:-

Help with starting up their social enterprise…
Especially, help with identifying and setting up an appropriate structure
Help accessing pro-bono or exchange based services
Help with marketing, design, packaging
Advice on factoring in adult training element into a business
Various requests relating to working with local authorities
Help in replicating the project
Advice on crowd-funding
Help in making contact with specific individuals
Advice on accessing bridging fund/working capital

Conclusions? First that there is an evident need for enterprise support for people who want to set up social enterprises. And second, none of the speakers asked for help in securing grants or other public funding; the entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well in the room.

Thanks to the Ryan Academy (DCU) Menter Iontach Nua and the Irish Social Enterprise Network for making these events possible.

This post originally appeared on Danielle’s own site.

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