Budding Entrepreneur? Use the Elevator!

social entrepeuners darren3

So here you are wandering around with this wonderful idea in your head that you think may just change the world, or at least someone’s world, but you just don’t have the belief that you could actually do something with it.

Well, 10 years ago an organisation was born to help you with just such trepidation and help you take your idea out of your head and put it into action.

NewsFour went to speak with Ringsend resident Darren Ryan, who has recently ascended to the CEO role of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, which is situated right here in Dublin 4 on Barrow Street. Ryan and his team of seven help support ordinary citizens who just might have the next big thing to make a social difference.

There are two main programmes that Social Entrepreneurs Ireland oversee, called the Elevator Programme and the Impact Programme. The Elevator Programme is a 12-month programme that will help someone who is just trying to get their idea off the ground, while the Impact Programme looks to support social entrepreneurs with established and effective projects that have the potential to scale significantly, creating widespread and long-term social impact.

If you are just beginning to try and make a positive social or environmental change for your community, then you can apply for the Elevator Programme. Or perhaps the idea is in your head but you want to give it a go.

When asked what message he would convey to someone out there who has something in their mind and thinks it could make a real difference, Ryan stated emphatically that the person should “just do it – get out there and do something and learn from it. Take the idea out of your head and get it into action. You need a minimum viable product to test the assumptions.”

He quoted the example of solicitor Graham Jones who created the Solas Project. He tested his initial assumptions about a need for support for prisoners by volunteering in prisons to work with inmates, and he was able to bring his idea on from there to a full-scale charity that was helped with funding and support by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.

Ryan told NewsFour that among SEI’s criteria are “ideas and projects that have a potential to scale.” It was an organisation incepted because it was a “challenge to get people to move the needle,” he said. “There was not enough innovation,” and “there was no one taking a risk” about social projects. There also “wasn’t that much support structure for social entrepreneurship,” he added.

However, he stressed SEI aims to be “a complement to existing provisions and charities rather than competitive against existing support systems – it offers a complementary innovation.” Darren explained that it is all about developing an ecosystem of supports around a social issue. It aims to “bring some new ideas.”

In the first year of its existence it had 13 applicants for its 12 support awards. Most recently, it had 217 applicants for nine spaces, and for the next applications Darren expects it to grow significantly again.

If you want to be part of the next wave of applications and have a chance to bring your world-changing idea into fruition, more information can be found at socialentrepreneurs.ie

Pictured: Darren Ryan Chief Executive of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.
Photo courtesy Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.

By Ferg Hayden