This is the latest partnered event in the growing relationship between WIT, Europe Direct Waterford, Waterford Social Enterprise Network and the ecosystem in Waterford
Europe Direct Waterford in partnership with Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and Waterford Social Enterprise Network (WSEN) organised a recent webinar on Building a Social Enterprise Ecosystem for Waterford held on 4 November 2020. This event was chosen as one of the European Social Economy Regions (ESER) partner events for 2020.
WIT’s Dr Felicity Kelliher chaired the expert panel which included Grace O'Sullivan, MEP, Liz Riches and Nicola Kent, Waterford Area Partnership / Waterford Social Enterprise Network, Anne Nolan, Waterford Integration Services and Richard Gavin, Department of Rural and Community Development.
Development of social enterprises
Dr Kelliher noted: “Social Enterprise is a vital social and economic contributor to Waterford and the South East. WIT are delighted to contribute to building a sustainable Social Economy eco-system, to ensure full support for these enterprises, those who work within and to the communities that benefit so richly from their work’.
The panel presented the current social enterprise landscape and discussed the development of social enterprises in Waterford City and County, outlining the practical supports available as well as looking at the importance of building a peer support network. The panel considered how social enterprises can be developed and supported from the bottom up and identified both opportunities and challenges at local, national and EU level.
The event recording can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmlFLXGybOM
Launched in February 2018, the ESER initiative is a response of the European Commission to the growing need to increase the visibility of social economy and build networks of stakeholders at regional and local level. The ESER Network is part of the European Commission's Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.
Today, one in four newly-founded enterprises in the EU belong to the Social Economy providing 13.6 million paid jobs in over 2.8 million social economy enterprises. 80 regions are part of the European Social Economy Regions network throughout 22 member states. While Waterford is already a leader in Ireland in the field of Social Enterprise, a Social Economy Ecosystem embracing all contributors can propel the community to grow and prosper as a key contributor to the region’s economy.
Sinead O’Higgins, Europe Direct Waterford Manager added “Here at Waterford Libraries we are proud of the role that our Europe Direct Service plays in working on behalf of The European Commission to provide a local link to the EU in the South-East. We have found our partnership with WIT and WSEN to be of huge benefit and it has allowed us all to play to our strengths and continue to work together to deliver high quality events that provide real opportunity, learning and information sharing in our communities.”
Waterford has been an active member of the ESER network since 2019 through Europe Direct Waterford. Europe Direct Waterford is run from Central Library in Waterford City and is one of a network of local contact points that serve as a direct link between citizens and the EU Institutions. Europe Direct Waterford aims to show people and organisations how the EU is relevant in their lives, offer information and to facilitate connections. Waterford Direct is committed to offering both high quality information and a wide range of engagement activities to citizens and communities. The Waterford public library service has a track record for being vibrant, knowledgeable and a trusted source of information. All public library services are free and offered in a supportive and inclusive environment.
This is the latest partnered event in the growing relationship between WIT, Europe Direct Waterford, Waterford Social Enterprise Network and the wider Social Enterprise Ecosystem in Waterford.
Dr Richard Hayes, VP for Strategy at WIT, said: "We are delighted to have been able to partner with Europe Direct Waterford and the WESN to support this event. We see it as an important part of a continuing dialogue about how best to empower communities across Waterford and the South East to develop socially, economically and culturally.
“While large multi-national companies usually attract the headlines when we talk about job creation and economic contribution, it is important that we highlight the very significant role Social Enterprises play in sustainable economic development; the size of the Social Enterprise economy suggests that it needs much greater attention in our future economic and social planning. In this context, we welcome very much the strong policy framework that has been created by government in support of Social Enterprise. WIT looks forward to working with all stakeholders in advancing the Social Enterprise agenda into the future."
Support available locally
Richard Grant Waterford Area Partnership CEO commented; “(WAP) are the Programme Implementers for the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) in Waterford. As part of the delivery of SICAP we support Local Community Groups and Social Entrepreneurs seeking to establish a social enterprise in Waterford City and County.
“We have developed a model of engagement that involves exploring social enterprise ideas with the Group/Entrepreneur, assisting them in building a business plan and testing the feasibility of their idea. We then work with a range of other agencies to support further training and mentoring. As part of this work to build a collaborative eco-system for the social economy sector in Waterford we bring together social enterprises through the Waterford Social Enterprise Network to explore collective training, education and development needs and to build a voice for the sector from those actively engaged in developing enterprise responses to community and social issues.
“WAP welcomes the National Social Enterprise Strategy for Ireland but recognises that further supports from national government and local authorities, including recognition of local networks, is urgently needed to build the ecosystem from the local to the global. We welcome the support of Waterford Libraries/EU Direct Waterford and WIT in supporting continued dialogue towards the future development of the social enterprise sector in Waterford and look forward to collaborating again in the future.”
The organisers would like to capture your ideas for the Waterford Social Economy Eco-system. Please complete our survey and have your say: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MMRCSB8