Social Enterprise

What is a Social Enterprise?

Social enterprises…

  • are businesses that work primarily to improve the lives of people. The business of social enterprise is social good
  • are businesses that operate to meet a social need
  • generate profits that are reinvested – rather than distributed among shareholders, as in the case of most businesses
  • operate in all areas of Ireland’s social and economic life, trading in goods and services, and re-investing any profit into delivering their mission in communities
  • use a business-plus model, which emphasises social need and the re-investment of profit into their core mission.
  • operate like any other business in that they produce goods and services for which a customer pays. The defining difference is that they invest all profits back into the businesses they run.

What is a Work Integration Social Enterprise [WISE]?

“Work Integration Social Enterprises exist mainly to improve the employability and employment prospects of people furthest from the labour market.”
O’Hara & O’Shaughnessy, 2021

“Work Integration Social Enterprises …support disadvantaged people to prepare for, and participate in, the labour market.”
Irish National Social Enterprise Policy 2019

The WISE Ireland Project

This directory is being developed in the wider context of a growing movement to increase procurement opportunities for social enterprises. We are proud to be partnering with BuySocial Europe, a pioneering initiative to help large companies bring social enterprises into their supply chains. BuySocial Europe is led by Social Enterprise UK in partnership with the EUCLID Network and the Social Enterprise World Forum.

This project coincides with the recent announcement that Social Enterprise Republic of Ireland [SERI] – as part of a consortium that includes Amárach Consulting and the Irish Local Development Network – has been awarded a tender to undertake the first Irish social enterprise census. We hope that this project will support their work and further increase the visibility of the sector.