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Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has said the £7m Covid Social Enterprise Fund announced at the weekend recognises the important role that Social Enterprises play both as an economic driver and a platform for social change.

Locally Newry and Mourne Co-Operative and Enterprise Agency has been providing support for Social Enterprises since 1972. Social Enterprise Newry Mourne Down (SENMD) is their most recent innovative programme of support helping individuals and groups explore new social enterprise ideas to help them find sustainable socially innovative solutions to social problems. It's delivered jointly by Newry & Mourne Enterprise Agency and Down Business Centre and headed by Stephen McClelland who also welcomed the announcement saying "Great to see Social Enterprise included in this funding. Minister Conor Murphy listened with genuine interest when I met him as part of a Development Trusts NI group. However this announcement would not have happened without the long hard lobbying of Colin Jess and the team at Social Enterprise NI"

Colin Jess, Director Social Enterprise Northern Ireland, Communities Minister and Seamus O’Prey, Chief Executive Ortus Group
Colin Jess, Director Social Enterprise Northern Ireland, Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and Seamus O’Prey, Chief Executive Ortus Group.

Achieving Social Benefit

A Social Enterprise a trading business that sells goods and services, whose primary objective is to achieve social and/or environmental benefit. They are different from those charities and voluntary organisations who do not have financial independence through trading income.

The Covid Social Enterprise Fund is aimed at covering losses and supporting liquidity to 30 September 2020 and building resilience for the future for social enterprises who meet the criteria.

Speaking during a visit to the Dairy Farm Social Enterprise in west Belfast the Minister said “Social Enterprises create a bridge between enterprise and social responsibility – they are key to inclusive growth and will have a full role to play in the rebuilding and reshaping of the economy post Covid. Supporting confident, outward looking, enterprising and innovative communities is a fundamental objective delivering on social and economic inclusion, employability, and anti-poverty impacts‎.

We all benefit from a strong social enterprise sector - organisations typified by a desire to design and deliver innovative products and services, improve opportunities for local people and develop independent and sustainable communities.  This fund recognises this importance and is designed to support the Social Enterprise sector both in terms of its survival following the emergency, but also in terms of its role in wider economic and social recovery.

“A public announcement will be made shortly about funding arrangements and the application process.”

Colin Jess Director of Social Enterprise NI said:  “Social Enterprise NI is delighted at the news of a fund being made available for the social enterprise sector and would like to put on record our thanks to the NI Executive on recognising the strength and value of the sector.  The social enterprise sector in Northern Ireland employs almost 25,000 individuals, many furthest from the labour market and contributes £625M to the local economy. 

“This support will provide much needed support to ensure these organisations continue to offer their services. Social Enterprise NI will work with Department of Communities to ensure that the funds are promoted and delivered to those in much need.”

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