Skip to main content


Register for the first event here

The Western Development Commission has today announced a series of social enterprise-focused events as part of the Awareness Raising Initiative for Social Enterprise scheme (ARISE). 

The WDC will lead three events at central locations aimed at attracting those from neighbouring counties to join. The first will take place in The Building Block Sligo on November 8th, with PorterShed’s CEO Mary Rodgers and Programme Manager Rosemary Gallagher as hosts; the second will be held in Galway’s Portershed on November 29th; the series will finish in The Base in Donegal in January 2023. 

The events will help to raise awareness of social enterprises while also offer those working in the sector an opportunity to activate their networks and receive training.

Speaking about the event series, Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission, said:

Supporting communities and social enterprise provides an opportunity for the WDC to use its sectoral knowledge, expertise and capital to stimulate economic activity and create jobs in rural regions. Our vision is to develop the West as a social innovation region with global links and recognition. The first step in doing this is to bring the community leaders and those driving change together.

Western Development Commission Announce Sligo, Galway, and Donegal Social Enterprise Awareness Events

An exciting lineup of social entrepreneurs will speak at each event, providing their own unique insights, expertise, and behind-the-scenes knowledge. At the first event in the Building Block in Sligo, Helen Nolan, co-founder and CEO of Spraoi Agus Spórt, will take to the stage and open up about her social enterprise experiences. For the Galway event, Martin Ward, BounceBack Recycling, will be one of the speakers, while details on speakers for the Donegal event are yet to be announced.

Speaking ahead of the event, Spraoi agus Spórt CEO Helen Nolan said:

“I’m really looking forward to this event. Social Enterprise is playing a key role in solving so many issues in the west, and I’m delighted to see such interest in this area. At Spraoi agus Spórt, we love what we do – and I’d encourage others to get involved and help drive missions such as ours. It means so much to so many.”

Lough Ree Access For All, Ballyleague, Lanesboro, Co. Roscommon.
Lough Ree Access For All, Ballyleague, Lanesboro, Co. Roscommon.
An Mheitheal Rothar – Galway's Bike Workshop
An Mheitheal Rothar – Galway's Bike Workshop

The social enterprise sector in Ireland provides between 25,000 and 35,000 jobs, generating up to €1.4bn in economic activity and addressing many challenges faced by Irish society. Furthermore, according to the European Commission, the social entrepreneurship sector currently employs 40 million people and engages over 200 million volunteers globally, indicating the sector’s potential. 

Viewed as a small but growing part of the enterprise base, there is widespread acknowledgement of the increasing contribution of social enterprise to national, regional, and local social and economic development. Analysis shows that social enterprise requires further development in Ireland and especially in the West to reach levels of activity seen elsewhere in Europe. 

The ARISE scheme is managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development and supported by the Dormant Accounts fund. Launched in 2021, it provides funding for, as well as awareness of, social enterprises and their potential.

In May of this year, the WDC launched a new interactive map for social enterprises operating in the western region. These three events will for the first time, bring together many of those individual organisations to share knowledge, learn from those who have succeeded and build a network. 


Register for the first event here

Registration for the remaining two events – at the PorterShed in Galway and the BASE in Donegal – will open closer to the events.