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Social Enterprise on the Island of Ireland

This report provides an overview of the state of social enterprise internationally, in Ireland, in Northern Ireland, and on a shared island basis.   

A social enterprise is an enterprise whose objective is to achieve a social or environmental impact, rather than maximising profit for its owners or stakeholders. It has a market trading relationship but reinvests its profits for a social or environmental purpose. 

Social enterprise has the potential to provide training and jobs for the long-term unemployed and people with disabilities, provide much-needed services in disadvantaged communities, along with addressing issues such as food poverty and climate change. 

The report concludes that there is a need for a co-ordinating framework for social enterprise and that there is the opportunity to have a greater ambition especially in relation to developing a stronger enterprise focus.  Areas for growth of social enterprise are suggested as providing employment opportunities for people distant from the labour market, in renewable energy generation, the circular economy and the restoration of biodiversity, and in caring for children, people with disabilities and older people.  Social enterprises can be supported across the island of Ireland, for example, through the Peace Plus programme.