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Social enterprise and its job potential

The social enterprise sector is significantly underdeveloped in Ireland at present. Clarke and Eustace (2009)6 used the findings from a survey of nine partnership areas of the Republic of Ireland, to make an estimate that social enterprises in Ireland generate some €240 million in revenue, spend €230 million in Ireland and employ over 9,300 people directly and support a further 5,100 indirectly.

The researchers also estimated that at least 12,500 people are involved with social enterprises in a voluntary capacity, thereby making a significant contribution to national policies on active citizenship.

Multiplier of 1.32

Research by DKM Economic Consultants (2011)7 suggested an economic multiplier of 1.32 for social enterprises. In other words, for every €1 injected into the Irish economy, the Irish economy benefited to the tune of an additional 32 cent.

 25,000 jobs

If Ireland attained the average European levels of social enterprise employment, an average of 5,000 jobs per year would be created in Ireland over the next five years. Government policy should seek to reach the European average on a graduated basis.

In the EU

At European level, Professor Mike Campbell, Director of Research and Policy at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), analysed the social economy in eight EU member states in 2005 and found that:

  • ·  It employed around 7.2 million people;
  • ·  7.7% of people in employment worked in the social economy;
  • ·  More people were employed in the social economy than in agriculture;
  • ·  Numbers employed in the social economy equated to one-third of the number

of self-employed.


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