What is Social Entrepreneurs Ireland?

At Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) we believe that Ireland’s social problems are not being solved quickly enough and that we need to develop new ideas to tackle our biggest challenges. Our mission is to find people with solutions to social problems and support them on every step of their journey.  We do this through our programmes, direct funding and our incredible community of alumni, funders, and sector leaders.

 

Our programmes are anchored across our three strategic pillars on the journey of a social entrepreneur – inspiring and incubating ideas at the first STEP; accelerating and developing organisations that require a LEAP of faith; and ensuring the best solutions can SOAR and impact at scale. Wrapped around every stage of the journey is the SEI COMMUNITY of supporters, mentors and sector leaders.

What programmes does Social Entrepreneurs Ireland offer?

Our six core programmes are:

  • Spark programme – providing the spark to set early-stage ideas alight.
  • Ideas Academy – helping people with innovative ideas to social problems to take those first steps and move from idea to action.
  • Action Lab – supporting social entrepreneurs who have graduated from the Ideas Academy and are at the piloting stage to effectively roll out their offering and increase their impact.
  • Impact programme – supporting high potential social entrepreneurs to build strong foundations and a plan for growing their impact.
  • The Scale Partnerships programme – Bespoke, tailor-made support programmes and funding for organisations who are tackling social problems at scale.
  • Community programme – supporting alumni of SEI by harnessing the skills, knowledge and experience of our community to help them further their impact.

Applications open for the Ideas Academy and the Impact Programme from Wednesday, 24th February to Wednesday, 7th April 2022. We are not currently accepting applications for the Action Lab, the Scale Partnerships programme, or the Community programme.

Which programme should I apply to?

If you have an innovative idea to solve a social problem in Ireland but are in the early stages of developing it, the Ideas Academy will help you to kick-start your idea and take those crucial first steps. If you have started to pilot your solution and are looking to build foundations for growth, then the Impact Programme could be the programme for you. Please see the website and relevant programme Application Guide for further information on eligibility criteria.

What types of organisations do you support (charities, social enterprises, for-profits)?

We support organisations with a clear social mission, of any governance structure (e.g. limited by guarantee, limited by shares, charitable status etc.) We also support early-stage organisations that have yet to decide which legal structure is most advantageous to their social mission. While we support organisations structured as both ‘not for profit’ and ‘for profit’, we only support social entrepreneur-led organisations that can convince us that their social mission is at the core of what they do, regardless of their legal structure.

What sectors or project areas do you support?

We don’t limit our support to any specific sector, topic or social issue. We are open to supporting projects in any sector, once the potential for positive societal change can be demonstrated. In the past, we have supported projects in a wide range of areas including education and learning, children and young people, mental health, diversity and inclusion, housing and the environment.

Why must an idea or project you support be ‘new or better’?

Ireland still suffers from a number of entrenched social problems. At Social Entrepreneurs Ireland we believe new and improved thinking is needed. However, these types of ideas often struggle to garner support, particularly in the early stages of their development. Therefore, through our programmes we support projects that tackle these issues from a different angle, improving on what is already being done or introducing a completely new solution altogether.

How is Social Entrepreneurs Ireland funded?

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is funded by a range of foundations, corporate partners and individuals.  Our supporters are as passionate about backing people with ideas and solving social problems, as we are! Find out more about them on ‘Our Supporters’ page.

I’m interested in applying to one of SEI's programmes - how do I go about this?

All applications must be submitted online using our online application form. Please access socialentrepreneurs.grantplatform.com to login/register and create your application. Check out ‘Our Programmes’ page for details on all programmes.

Can I submit a paper version of the application form, or e-mail you a copy of my form?

No. All applications must be submitted directly online using the online application form.

Can I apply to the Ideas Academy and the Impact Programme?

No. You can only apply to the programme that is most relevant to your project’s stage of development. You cannot make two applications to two programmes with different projects. Each person can only submit one application, regardless of the programme. The Eligibility criteria is listed in each applicant guide.

I am a past recipient of support from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland - can I apply again?

If your idea is new, yes. You are not eligible to apply for the same programme with the same project. You can however apply to the same programme with a new idea or apply to a different programme with your originally supported idea.

Can I contact SEI if I need extra support with making my application?

Yes, if you need extra support with making your application, we can provide extra supports like voice recording responses to the application questions. Please contact applications@socialentrepreneurs.ie or call 01-685 3469 for more details.

What we would recommend, however, if you are looking for feedback on your individual application, is to share it with some friends, colleagues and board members, to get their insights into the quality of your answers.

I’ve started my application form; how do I log back in to edit it?

Just log back at the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland grant platform to edit and submit your application.

I don’t remember my password. What should I do?

You can easily recover your password by clicking on Reset Password link on the login page.

How do I ensure that my work is saved?

After you’ve registered and have entered the applications portal you will be able to start your application. Upon selection of the programme you’re applying for, you will need to enter the Application Name and press ‘Save+Next’. All your work after this will be automatically saved. After submission you will not be able to make any changes, so please ensure that you are submitting an application for the programme you intend to apply for.

What will happen if I forget to include something in my application form?

All questions in the application are required unless marked ‘optional’. Once you have submitted your application you will not be able to amend it. Please be sure to review your work carefully before you submit it.

What happens when I submit an application?

Once all the applications have been submitted, a thorough review process will take place. A full breakdown of the review process and associated timelines is listed in the Applicant Guides.

What do the numbers in brackets mean in the Application Questions?

The numbers in brackets indicate the word count limit for that application question. The online application platform will not allow you to submit your application until all answers are within the correct word count.

Can I attach additional or supporting information to my application?

No, we can only accept the information provided within the online application form. The application questions and word counts were specifically designed to empower applicants to outline their understanding of the problem, their solution and their motivation behind their work.

What is the Ideas Academy?

The Ideas Academy is a three-month programme for people who have spotted a social problem and have an idea to tackle it. Participants on this programme receive training, support, and peer mentorship in key areas of importance to early-stage social entrepreneurs to help them move from idea to action.

If I am selected, how much time must I commit to The Ideas Academy?

The programme will run for three months from June to September 2022. Over the course of the programme, participants are required to attend all core learning elements of the programme, as well as regular learning group sessions with their fellow participants. You should be able to commit 3-6 hours a week (core programme elements and individual work to progress project) to the Ideas Academy for the duration of the programme. 

How many applicants will be selected to participate in The Ideas Academy?

This year we intend to run three Ideas Academies concurrently – with one group based in the East, one in the South, and one in the West. Each group will have up to 15 spaces available.

I have submitted my Academy application. When will I know whether I have been successful?

We will let you know whether you have been selected to pitch to a panel of virtual judges for a place on the Ideas Academy by mid May. Please see dates for the virtual pitching in the Applicant Guide. You will know by mid June if you have been successful in your pitch to secure a place on the programme.

How much seed funding is available to apply for at the end of the programme?

There is a total of €40,000 in seed funding available through the Ideas Academy. This is divided between the three academy groups as follows: €20,000 for the West, €10,000 for the South, and €10,000 for the East. All projects that complete the Ideas Academy programme can apply to pitch for a portion of seed funding at the end of the programme to pilot their idea. Typically, projects that successfully pitch for seed funding receive between €1,000 and €5,000. 

Why is the pot of funding for the West group bigger?

The Ideas Academy programme is kindly supported by two different funders. The sponsor of the West programme, the Lifes2good Foundation, have a strategic priority to support social entrepreneurship in the West of Ireland and have granted SEI a larger pot of seed funding to distribute to projects who complete the Ideas Academy West in line with this strategic priority.

Which academy group should I apply for?

The Ideas Academy is divided into three groups by region – one in the West, one in the South, and one in the East. You should apply for the group where you and your project are based, or which is closest to where you are based.

What is the Action Lab Programme?

The Action Lab designed for high potential social entrepreneurs who have completed the Ideas Academy and aims to support them through the pilot stage as they build solid foundations, and to bridge the gap between our Ideas Academy and Impact Programme.

This 5 month programme is designed to support social entrepreneurs to increase their knowledge of social business models, funding, governance, marketing, and communications. 10 social entrepreneur-led projects were selected for the 2021/2022 programme and will receive: training and support and peer support.

What is the Impact Programme?

The Impact Programme is a nine-month accelerator programme. Through it, we support Ireland’s highest potential social entrepreneurs to build strong foundations and a plan for growing their impact. With group and individual support and training in areas like strategy, governance, business modelling, fundraising, communications, and leadership and wellbeing, we help you to bring your organisation to the next stage. We also pair you with highly experienced mentors, coaches and our extensive network of social entrepreneurs to support you to build an impactful, scalable, and sustainable organisation.

How long will it take to fill in the Impact Programme application form?

While everyone will be different, in general, we advise that it takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete the application form, depending on the level of detail being provided. Trying to do all of this in one sitting is tough though, so we advise completing the application form in sections, making use of all the time available to complete the form.

How many social entrepreneurs will become Impact Awardees this year?

Up to 5 social entrepreneurs will be selected as Impact Awardees.

What do I get if my Impact application is successful?

All Impact Awardees will receive direct unrestricted funding of €20,000, and a programme of support from SEI worth approximately €20,000. Impact Awardees of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland are also entitled to receive a series of pro-bono supports from several partner organisations, ensuring that each of our social entrepreneurs receives the best professional services available at no cost to them or their organisations. Impact Awardees are also provided with access to numerous free/low-cost training courses and workshops to help develop both themselves and their organisations further.

If I am selected, how much time must I commit to the Impact Programme?

The Impact Programme is tailored to meet the needs of the individual social entrepreneur, with the programme structure agreed at the beginning of the Award. The time commitment for each Impact Awardee will be slightly different but on average 2-4 days per month. During the most intensive period of the Programme (September-December) it could increase to approximately 5 days per month. It’s important to note that the Programme will require significant input from the Impact Awardee in order to benefit from the supports on offer.

If I am selected to receive an Award, why must I commit to participating in the Impact Programme?

The support structure is at the heart of the Impact Programme. It comprises both funding and a tailored support programme designed to help social entrepreneurs to maximise their impact and accelerate their development. Impact Awardees must commit to participating fully in the programme to gain the benefits it offers.

At what stage of development should my project be to be eligible to apply to the Impact Programme?

The Impact Programme caters to social entrepreneur-led projects at various stages of development, from early-stage to growth. Your project must have moved beyond the idea/conceptual stage, with activities up and running that relate directly to the problem you are trying to address. We are looking for projects with the desire and potential to scale beyond their current reach and impact.

How can the financial support be spent?

The financial support provided by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is unrestricted. While there are some broad constraints to how the unrestricted funding is spent (for example we will not fund illegal activities) we consider the Impact Awardee to be the person best suited to decide how their project can benefit from the financial support. The unrestricted funding may be used, for example, to fund the salary of the social entrepreneur or specific initiatives. Personal expenses incurred while working on the project may also be covered by unrestricted funding.

What are the reporting requirements for Impact Awardees?

Impact Awardees are required to submit reports throughout the period of their Award, along with a summary report at the end of the award period. This report outlines progress made and actions completed against the Awardee’s project plan, along with a financial breakdown of the donation monies.

Can I apply to other funds and the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Impact Programme?

Yes; at Social Entrepreneurs Ireland realises how tough it can be to raise the necessary funds for a project, particularly in the early stages of development. As a result, we have no issue with applications being made to other funding opportunities that may arise.

I have previously applied to Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, can I re-apply?

Yes. However, we would only recommend re-applying if your project or idea has made significant progress since you last applied or if you have taken on feedback that was provided.

I have submitted my Impact Programme application. When will I know whether I have been successful?

We will let you know whether you have been selected to take part in the Impact Programme Virtual Judging Panel by the last week of May.

If my application is successful, when will the Impact Programme begin?

The programme will begin in August 2022 and will run until April 2023. You can find more details on this and associated timelines in the Selection Process Timeline in this document.

My idea is for a project outside Ireland, am I eligible?

No. If your project activities only take place outside Ireland and the main communities benefiting from your activities are outside of the island of Ireland then you are not eligible to apply.

What do you mean by ‘Ireland’?

The term ‘Ireland’ refers to both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

My project has activities both in Ireland and abroad, am I eligible?

If a significant proportion of the work you do takes place in Ireland and if you can clearly demonstrate the societal benefit which these activities bring to the communities you work within Ireland, then you may be eligible to apply, provided you meet the rest of the application criteria.

I am not living in Ireland, can I apply?

No. Our support programmes are only open to social entrepreneurs living in Ireland.

Do I have to be the originator of the idea or have been directly involved since the beginning of the project?

No, you don’t necessarily have to be the originator of the idea, but you should currently be the main driver and decision-maker of the project, with the skills to drive it forward. You should be passionate about the work you do and have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Must I meet all of the eligibility criteria to be eligible to apply?

Yes, you must meet all of the eligibility criteria listed in the Applicant Guide. You will also be asked to fill in the eligibility criteria form in the application ensuring that you are eligible for the programme you are intending to apply for. If you have any specific questions about eligibility criteria, please email us at:
applications@socialentrepreneurs.ie

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