Enactus Ireland 2021 National Competition

11th May 2021

Posted In: FYI

The Enactus Ireland 2021 National Competition has just launched. Its 10th year in operation, Enactus Ireland, which is part of a global network, aims to tackle the social problems of today by empowering third-level students to identify solutions.

Through training, grant support and expert business mentorship, a number of Enactus projects have developed into exciting social enterprises in Ireland such as KeepAppy, Access Earth, Food Cloud and Thriftify. Again, this year the competition will see students from ten universities and ITs across Ireland present innovative social projects that they believe have the potential to deliver real change and generate impact.

In anticipation of this year’s competition, Enactus Ireland carried out desktop and qualitative research into the value impact of social enterprises and on the importance of measurement. Following a number of interviews, the research identified that a standardised measurement tool would be hugely beneficial for the development of the sector in Ireland.

While implementing a homogenous impact measurement tool is ultimately a global challenge, there is a growing focus on this sector by the Irish Government, with the newly published National Social Enterprise Policy 2019-2022. The policy highlights the need for better measurement and awareness of the impacts of social enterprise, and work is ongoing in this area.

Laura Dennehy, Enactus Country Lead, Ireland.

Laura Dennehy, Enactus Country Lead, said: “We are delighted to be launching the Enactus Ireland 2021 National Competition. Taking place virtually again, the students will present all their hard work to our judging panel made up of business and social enterprise leaders. The winning team will receive resources and expert mentoring during the summer months to help them advance their project”.

“In preparation for this year’s competition, we carried out research into the sector in Ireland to gain an understanding of challenges, and of how it is developing. What became evident during the process was that there is a clear need for a standardised impact measurement process for social enterprises in Ireland. I understand the Department is working on developing a process and I sincerely welcome their leadership in this area as I believe it will aid the growth of this sector no end when value is measured.”

“As a follow-up to our research and as part of this year’s competition, we will be running a business event to discuss the economic and community impact of social enterprises and the value of CSR more broadly.  We believe conversations like this are vital to ensure there is a wholesome understanding of how every aspect of the business community can contribute to social impact”.

Tammy Darcy, Interim CEO for SERI, Founder of the Shona Project, and Enactus Judge (main picture) echoed the importance of social enterprises in our communities.

“It is fantastic to see Enactus launching its National Competition once again, particularly after the year we have had.

The pandemic really put a spotlight on the invaluable role played by social enterprises in their communities in areas such as mental health and social inclusion in particular.

I really believe Irish people have gained a new appreciation for the support they provide and the impact they have on wider society. Perhaps this will be a turning point for social entrepreneurship, as both government and society begin to value and indeed understand the sectors social impact.”

“I know work is underway to measure the social impact of an enterprise and I welcome this as I believe it will help encourage more students into this sector and more investment from private businesses into the concept”.

Matt McCann, Enactus Alumnus and Founder and CEO of Access Earth said the key to developing this sector in Ireland is tangible measurement that can be used at third level to encourage more and more business and socially minded students into this space.

He said: “Students nowadays want to work in ethical and sustainable companies. They want to help solve the problems they witness and learn about in school and college. They are socially aware and extremely conscious of how they impact the world around them. That is why I believe, if there was greater promotion and context on the impact of social entrepreneurship at third level, this sector would flourish even further. That is the part that is missing. We have an idea of the concept but need more substance on its impact.”