National Census to establish key information about social enterprise in Ireland

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Minister Humphreys announces a National Census to establish key information about social enterprise in Ireland.  Inclusive project will involve all social enterprise stakeholders.

Media Release: Thursday, 12th May 2022

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, TD, today, 12th May 2022 announced a new initiative designed to gather key information about social enterprise in Ireland.

The National Social Enterprise Census will gather important data about social enterprises in Ireland.

The initiative will help inform policy and the rollout of future supports in a move aimed at benefitting the Social Enterprise Sector.

Following a competitive tender process, the project is being delivered on behalf of the Department of Rural and Community Development by Amárach Research, in partnership with Social Enterprise Republic of Ireland (SERI) and the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN).


Making the announcement today, Minister Humphreys said:

“Our social enterprises play such a vital role in communities across the country, as we saw during the recent Pandemic.

“As the Department overseeing National Social Enterprise Policy, it is vital that we have as much reliable data as possible about social enterprises in Ireland.

“This initiative will be key to informing future policy decisions as well as the type of supports our social enterprises need. And it will also help us to deliver on our commitments under ‘Our Rural Future’ – of which our social enterprises form a key part.”

The Minister added:

“Historically, the lack of concrete data has impeded efforts regarding the provision of supports for, and raising awareness of, social enterprise. This is an opportunity to establish a reliable evidence base necessary for future policy development and delivery, which will benefit the sector.

 “I am delighted to see the Consortium led by Amárach Research, in collaboration with SERI and the ILDN, has already started work on this landmark project.

“I am pleased too that all social enterprise networks and support organisations are involved in the process to ensure maximum inclusivity.”

Social Enterprises are businesses for social good, creating jobs and generating impact in sectors such as the circular economy, social care, hospitality and retail.

This exercise will identify key data in aggregate form such as the total number of social enterprises in Ireland, their regional spread, the primary sectors they are active in, their staffing levels and traded income.

This will ensure the Department is in a much better position to support the sector and develop social enterprise policy, with a strong and robust evidence base.


Contact: The Department of Rural and Community Development Press Office, 01-7736843 / 087-1734633  Press.office@drcd.gov.ie 


Notes to editors:


Social Enterprises

Social enterprises are businesses that work primarily to improve the lives of people. Their core objective is to achieve a social, societal, or environmental impact. Like other businesses, social enterprises pursue their objectives by trading in goods and services on an ongoing basis. However, surpluses generated by social enterprises are re-invested into achieving their core social objectives, rather than maximising profit for their owners.

They frequently work to support disadvantaged groups such as the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, the Travelling Community, etc., or to address issues such as food poverty, social housing, or environmental matters.


National Social Enterprise Policy

Ireland’s first National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019-2022 was launched by the Department of Rural and Community Development on 18th July 2019, with the objective of creating an enabling environment for social enterprise to grow and contribute more fully to Ireland’s social and economic progress.

The Policy is focused on three main objectives:

  1. Building Awareness of Social Enterprise
  2. Growing and Strengthening Social Enterprise
  3. Achieving Better Policy Alignment


The Policy includes a specific measure which states that to improve data on social enterprises, the Government, in collaboration with stakeholders, will improve data collection relating to the extent of social enterprise in Ireland and the areas in which social enterprises operate.


Social Enterprise Republic of Ireland (SERI)

SERI is a support organisation formed in July 2020 for social enterprise in Ireland. Their aims are:

  • To grow the social enterprise sector to benefit all people and communities,
  • To work with local and national government and, to connect private and social enterprise in a way never done before.

Their strategy focuses on four pillars main pillars of representation, awareness, support and relationships.


Irish Local Development Network (ILDN)

The ILDN is the representative body for the 49 Local Development Companies throughout Ireland. LDCs are volunteer-led multi-sectoral partnerships, which deliver community and rural development from a bottom-up perspective.

The ILDN supports the LDCs in the delivery of numerous programmes such as LEADER and the Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP), with each LDC operating an average of more than 20 distinct programmes. The integrated approach taken by LDCs provides a comprehensive and accessible way for people and community groups to take advantage of employment supports, enterprise grants, social inclusion, training, as well as environmental and well-being supports.

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