There is good news from Ireland regarding Social Enterprise with the launch of the Rural Conversations report on Wednesday 4th September. Rural Conversations was a series of events in collaboration with the Department of Rural and Community Development. The series provided a discussion forum for rural development stakeholders. The themes discussed were economic development, social cohesion, and sustainable rural communities. The challenges and opportunities facing rural Ireland were also outlined.
One of the findings of the current issues facing rural communities and the vision of rural stakeholders for the future included the changing nature of work offering remote employment opportunities. It outlined that access to specialist skills could be enhanced through an embedded use of co-working spaces (for example enterprise hubs), future cooperatives and social enterprises. It also highlighted that the value of such initiatives is dependent on secure, robust online access to unlock co-working capacity and promote rural areas as ‘Smart Working’ locations. It was suggested that specific social enterprise policy is required as a catalyst for sustainable economic activity. In addition that there would be the provision of economic support structures for rural micro and small firms and social enterprise.
The publication of Ireland’s first-ever National Social Enterprise Policy (2019-2022) on July 18th provides a definition of Social Enterprise and a framework for its further development. It recognises the very important contribution of Higher Education Institutes (HEI) in supporting Social Enterprise to grow in scale and impact through teaching and research on Social Enterprise and related areas. As a result of the publication of the new policy there will be a meeting of those involved in teaching and research on Social Enterprise in HEIs. LIT will be attending this meeting on October 9th. This is an opportunity to outline the teaching, learning and research activities of LIT in the area of Social Enterprise.
The InTSEnSE multiplier event in Ireland will take place in mid-November. The date is to be confirmed. The event will try and connect with an appropriate enterprise event in the region.