Prizes up for grabs during Enterprise Week

James McIntosh

James McIntosh

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There will be £10,000 up for grabs for innovative thinkers in the social enterprise sector with the launch of the Social Enterprise Means Business Competition during Enterprise Week 2015, which takes place in Derry from February 23-27.

Derry City Council’s Funding Unit, in conjunction with the Business Opportunities Programme, will launch the competition on Thursday February 26 at the Social Enterprise Hub. The event is a highlight of the week long programme which is being delivered by the council with support from Invest Northern Ireland through the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

The third sector contributes significantly to the local economy in the city, enhancing communities, assisting people in gaining employment and improving the environment.

However, access to finance remains a significant barrier to the growth and development of the sector, as manager of the city’s Social Enterprise Hub, Brian O’Neill, explained.

“These are financially challenging times so any new enterprise already faces hurdles in getting off the ground. The aim of this competition is to support the development of five new and innovative social enterprise ideas within the value added sectors, with five funding allocations ranging from the first prize of £3,000 to the fifth of £1,000.

“I am delighted that this money has been made available by Derry City Council, as the Social Enterprise Sector plays an integral role within the city, and it has been identified as a key area of need in terms of adequate resourcing.”

The aim of the competition is to provide start-up or early stage funding for five new social enterprise ideas within any sector or industry with the potential to generate sustainable income streams from a tradable or chargeable activity.

Funding Manager with Derry City Council Richard Osterhus said: “We are aware of the real need within local communities for social enterprises to be able to deliver from the ground up. These companies play a key role in developing a positive, sustainable community through delivering essential change and innovation.

“I am delighted to be able to direct these resources into this sector, and I have no doubt that this support will have a significant and positive impact in bringing new ideas to fruition. I would encourage anyone with an idea they feel can make a difference to present it to our panel and see what can be achieved with some additional financial support.”

The emphasis of the Social Enterprise Means Business Competition will be on collaborative or co-operative models that support a wider cluster of sole traders and small businesses.

The competition will launch with a keynote address by leading social enterprise entrepreneur David Erasmus, special advisor to Lord Wei of Shoreditch. Having begun his career in business, David has turned his focus to making technology an effective tool for social causes, working on a number of landmark projects in the UK and South Africa. David is also a founding member of the Ambassadors for Philanthropy, a Government initiative orchestrated by the British cabinet office.

The event takes place on Thursday February 26 at 10am in the Social Enterprise Hub in the Diamond. To find out how you can apply for the competition, come along on the day and find out more about the eligibility criteria. To register for the event, or any of the many business focused events taking place throughout Enterprise Week go to www.derrycity.gov.uk/enterpriseweek