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The Social Enterprise Development Fund is a €1.6 million fund which will be delivered over two years: 2018 – 2020. The fund was created by Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) in partnership with Local Authorities Ireland and funded by IPB Insurance and the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The Department of Rural and Community Development provides match funding for all philanthropic funds raised by Social Innovation Fund Ireland, through the Dormant Accounts Fund. IPB Insurance is an Irish owned general insurance company which protects and supports their local authority members and their communities across the length and breadth of Ireland.

 Picture Jason Clarke


The objective of the fund is to find and back social enterprises that add to the social and economic fabric of their community by way of social impact. The fund will provide critical support to the most innovative and high-impact social enterprises across Ireland, helping them to:

  • Increase their social impact
  • Increase their traded income
  • Create more jobs
  • Develop long-term, effective and sustainable social enterprises


Social enterprises are organisations whose mission is to have a positive effect on society. They generate revenue through their products or services and reinvest their profits back into their social mission.

Social enterprises are innovating every day by inventing and developing solutions to Ireland’s most pressing social issues. They are creating jobs, tackling disadvantage and supporting community development.

We believe there is a need to foster and invest in these social enterprises to allow them to grow and spread their solutions throughout the country.


Cash Grants

In 2019, the fund will support up to 16 Social Enterprises with cash grants and a place on the Accelerator Programme.

  • Two Social Enterprises will receive a cash grant of €50,000 
  • Two Social Enterprises will receive a cash grant of €30,000
  • Two Social Enterprises will receive a cash grant of €20,000
  • Ten Social Enterprises will receive a cash grant of €10,000 

A minimum of three winners will come from each of the Urban, Town and Rural categories. 

The Accelerator Programme

All successful applicants will win a place on Ireland’s only National Accelerator Programme specifically designed for social enterprises. The Accelerator Programme will equip social enterprises with the skills they need to scale up and deepen their social impact.This intensive and practical 6-month programme provides training from best-in-class experts in the private, non-profit and public sector on key functions such as Strategic Planning, Impact Measurement, Financial Management, Governance, Business Modelling, Pitching, Storytelling and more. The Accelerator Programme also includes the financing of bespoke business and mentoring supports tailored to the needs of each organisation, such as market research, marketing plans and online impact strategies.“The accelerator programme has been a game changer for the Shona Project. It has helped us with the perfect mix of practical and strategic planning so we can make immediate improvements while planning for growth. We have also been welcomed into a network of like-minded people who are on the same journey and the level of support we’ve received from both our fellow participants and the SIFI team has been invaluable to us. This is a top class programme.” Tammy Darcy, Founder, The Shona Project

By joining the programme, organisations will also gain access to a peer network of the best social enterprises in Ireland.

The grants will be awarded to the best social enterprises in each of the following categories:

  • Best Social Enterprises – Urban
  • Best Social Enterprises – Town
  • Best Social Enterprises – Rural

Further Investment 

At the end of the Accelerator Programme, all successful social enterprises will have the opportunity to pitch for a share of an additional €100,000

This further investment will be granted to the social enterprises which demonstrate the greatest potential for future impact and growth.

“Receiving a Social Enterprise Development award has been transformational for Meals4Health – the funding and mentorship support have been key to helping us develop from innovative idea to start-up and onwards to growth. The accelerator programme has been powerful – an intense 6 months of workshop training, leadership and communication skill building and connection with fellow social innovators, all with the greatest support of Social Innovation Fund Ireland.  We have taken every opportunity offered to analyse our strengths and goals and to understand what it will take to scale and achieve impact in the community.”  Sharon Fitzpatrick, Co-Founder, Meals4HealthFurther Investment At the end of the Accelerator Programme, all successful social enterprises will have the opportunity to pitch for a share of an additional €100,000. This further investment will be granted to the social enterprises which demonstrate the greatest potential for future impact and growth.


We are seeking applications from social enterprises that:

  • Have a clear social mission that addresses a critical social issue
  • Generate income from goods or services
  • Are already up and running
  • Reinvest any surplus into achieving their mission
  • Have a not-for-profit legal form
  • Are separate from Government and State Agencies
  • Have their main impact in the Republic of Ireland

The Social Enterprise Development Fund Criteria

The key criteria that applicants will need to demonstrate are:

  • How does the social enterprise impact on a critical social issue
  • How the social enterprise is or has the potential to be a sustainable business, generating traded income from goods or services

The applications will also be assessed on how well they demonstrate that the social enterprise:

  • Is innovative in an Irish context
  • Has the potential to scale or replicate in Ireland
  • Has the potential to create additional jobs


The Social Enterprise Development Fund has been streamlined in order to allow for a more efficient open-call for applications. This year the open-call comprises of two stages:

Stage 1

Applications are open from the 15th November until the 25th January. At this point, applicants are invited to complete a short application form. Based on this initial form, Social Innovation Fund Ireland will identify a shortlist of applicants who have met the basic minimum criteria. 

Stage 2

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to complete a more detailed application form on request. The submission deadline for the second stage of the application is 28th February 2019. 


Finalists will be invited for an interview which will take place between the 1st and the 12th of April 2019.


Announcement of Awardees

The winners will be informed before the end of May 2019, with an awards announcement event to take place shortly afterwards.

The Accelerator Programme

The Accelerator Programme will take place between June and December 2019. During this period the awardees will be expected to attend workshops, approximately once per month, and to meet with their consultants or mentors on a regular basis. 

Applying for a share of the €100,000

Towards the end of 2019, the awardees will be invited to submit a proposal and pitch for a share of the additional €100,000. This further investment will be granted to the social enterprises which demonstrate the greatest potential for future impact and growth. 

Showcase Event

To celebrate the impact of the awardees, to mark the end of the Accelerator Programme and to announce the winners of the share of the €100,000 a showcase event will be held in early 2020.

Click here to apply

The deadline for applications is the 25th of January 2019

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit additional information in February 2019


What is expected of Awardees?

Awardees will be expected to participate in a six-month Accelerator Programme, with a minimum of two days per week devoted to working on your awarded project.

How do you define the urban, town and rural categories?

  • Urban: the 5 largest cities – Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Galway
  • Town: Any area outside of the 5 largest cities and their surrounds with a population greater than 5,000
  • Rural: Any area in the Republic of Ireland outside of Urban and Town areas as defined above

We are looking for the area where you have the biggest impact.

Can you apply for more than one category? 

No, if your social enterprise is making an impact in more than one area, e.g. in both town and rural areas then please pick the area where it is making its biggest impact.

Can you make more than one application?

Yes, there is nothing stopping your organisation making more than one application for separate projects, however, it is very unlikely that we will fund more than one project from any organisation.

What can cash grants be spent on?

The cash grant must be spent on the project which won the award. The specific use of the cash grants will be agreed between the Social Innovation Fund Ireland and the Awardee. Cash grants may not be used to pay off debts or purchase vehicles, land or buildings.

What do we mean by non-financial budgets?

A non-financial budget is a budget that is administered by SIFI and is ring-fenced for items that will support the strategic growth and development of the awardees. Items that are commonly procured for awardees from a non-financial budget include consultancy support to develop a strategic plan, a communications strategy or an e-commerce strategy. 

Who will decide who wins the awards? 

The selection process is outlined below. Final decisions are made by the Board of Social Innovation Fund Ireland.

What is the selection process?

The selection process follows includes the following steps:

  • Step 1 – Complete the Pre-Application – Self Assessment Questionnaire
  • Step 2 – Open call for applications – 15th November 2018 to 25th January 2019 
  • Step 3 – Social Innovation Fund Ireland will review the applications to ensure all criteria has been met and identify the shortlisted applications
  • Step 4 – Shortlisted applicants will we invited to submit additional information before 28th February 2019
  • Step 5 – An internal review of stage 2 applications. The applications are marked against the standard and advantageous criteria
  • Step 6 – External Screen – External experts and stakeholders also review the stage 2 applications. Finalists for interviews to be selected following the internal and external reviews of stage 2 applications
  • Step 7 – Interviews – The finalists will be interviewed by an expert panel chosen by the Social Innovation Fund Ireland between the 1st and 12th April
  • Step 8 – Due Diligence – Due diligence will be performed on projects post-interview, this may include site visits and further research on the projects
  • Step 9 – Final Decision

If I win a €50,000 investment at the start of the programme, how likely am I to be selected for a share of the €100,000 fund?

All sixteen awardees will have an equal opportunity to pitch for a share of the €100,000 fund.

How do applicants find out where they are in the selection process?

All applicants will be informed by telephone or email after final decisions have been made.

What projects are not eligible?

  • Projects seeking funds for scholarships
  • Projects seeking to fund capital items – buildings, vans, etc.
  • Research projects
  • Party political projects
  • Projects that screen beneficiaries in or out by faith or religious denomination
  • Projects that do not provide a benefit to people or the environment e.g. projects that benefit animals only
  • Projects where the main impact is outside the Republic of Ireland
  • Projects that are an idea (only) and that have not yet started
  • Enterprise Centers
  • Charity Shops

What applicants are not eligible? 

  • Applicants must be over 18 years old.
  • Applications must come from an entity that has a not for profit legal form e.g. a school, charity or social enterprise. For profit entities are excluded.
  • Social Innovation Fund Ireland and IPB Insurance staff, Directors and their family members* are excluded from applying.

* Immediate family member includes sibling, parent, spouse or civil partner, or child.


By applying for the Early Childhood Fund, all applicants have agreed to the Terms & ConditionsPlease ensure you have read and understood the Terms & Conditions before beginning your application.

Any further questions?

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