Offaly Social Enterprise Network was launched at an event in Mucklagh Community Centre on Tuesday 22nd November. This new county wide network has been created with the purpose of allowing social enterprises to support one another and come together for mutually beneficial training, mentoring, information distribution and collective collaboration.
The social enterprise launch event was made possible through the ARISE project (Awareness Raising Initiative for Social Enterprises), funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development, through the Dormant Accounts Fund. It is a key goal to raise awareness of what social enterprises do and bring to the public’s attention that the business they are supporting is volunteer led, community run and delivering social good. At the launch event, Maura Allen, a long-time community volunteer and secretary of Offaly Local Development Company, presented plaques to each of the registered members to be displayed at their premises.
Offaly Social Enterprise Network evolved organically into an entity over the past three years. It began informally through cups of tea shared amongst groups attending mutual relevant training courses and these conversations grew into a more structured agenda and collective collaboration going from strength to strength despite the difficulties presented during the pandemic. As Sarah Kennedy stated during her speech ‘all our worlds got turned upside down and for many of the social enterprises here, the bottom fell out of the business plan.’ The network was born as a result of the fact that the members gradually realised that more could be achieved together than as individual businesses and at the launch the new logo and branding that showcases their collaboration was displayed for the first time.
The network is currently made up of 18 registered members (Ballycommon Telework and Training Centre, Birr Leisure Centre, Birr Theatre, BLC Developments, Clara Resource Shop, Clara Swimming Pool, Green Offaly, Homefix, Kilcormac Development Association, Mid-Offaly Housing Association, Moneygall Development Association, Mucklagh Community Centre, Offaly Healthy Homes Project, Paddle Together, Pullough Community Shop, St Mary’s Youth Centre, Tullamore Show, West Offaly Training) and the network membership hopes that this will grow substantially over the coming years. As Sarah Kennedy said on the night, ‘There’s a great appetite for social enterprise at the minute and communities are really coming back with their own solutions’. Against a backdrop of rural decline, social enterprise is a powerful tool for developing employment, services, products and local economies across Offaly.
A video featuring OLDC representatives and people involved in the social enterprises was played at the launch event and individual videos promoting 10 enterprises have also been produced. These videos are available to be viewed and will be proudly housed on the Social Enterprise page of Offaly Local Development Company’s website and can be found at the following link https://offalyldc.ie/enterprise-supports/support-for-social-enterprise/offaly-social-enterprise-network
For more informational videos see: