Social enterprises Derry pilot agreed

Sinn Fein councillor Eric McGinley. (SI0605AQ01)
Sinn Fein councillor Eric McGinley. (SI0605AQ01)

Derry City Council’s Development Committee have agreed to allocate £10,000 towards a pilot kickstarter fund for new social enterprises in the city.

The move comes after a govenrment report suggested that the main barrier to expansion and growth within the grass roots initiatives was lack of available finance.

The scheme will fund social enterprises that are judged to be “innovative, commercially viable and capable of making significant measurable economic impact by supporting the growth and development of a value added sector”, according to a report presented to the committee by council officers.

The pilot fund will be split between two new innovative social enterprises, with each to receive a £5,000 grant.

The council’s Strategic Director Stephen Gillespie told the committee that the £10,000 had been gathered through budget savings and from within the department.

He said that the council would look at a more substantial fund for next year.

“£10,000 is not a lot, but it’s a start,” he said, adding: “Ideally what we would like to do is develop this sector.”

Sinn Fein Councillor Eric McGinley commended the council for the support it was showing towards social enterprises.

In answer to a question from Colr. McGinley, Mr. Gillespie said there would be an open call for applications.

Mayor, SDLP Councillor Brenda Stevenson welcoming the initiative, which she said came on the back of the Business Opportunities Programme.

Mrs. Stevenson suggested council also look at models of good practice elsewhere.

DUP Councillor Gary Middleton said: “Anything that can be done to help local businesses should be supported.”

He also commended the development officers and their team for the work they were doing to help small businesses locally, and their willingness when asked to assist.

The government report found that 77% of social enterprises had hopes to expand.