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Social Entrepreneurs and Business Achievers

We had the pleasure of judging the pitches for the Social Enterpreneurs programme.

After an open call for applications in March of this year,  217 social entrepreneurs seeked support from the Awards Programme. As a member of our External Review Team, and following the completion of this year’s Social Entrepreneurs Bootcamp, we helped us to whittle that number down to 20. 8 for the Impact programme, 12 for the Elevator programme.

Here are the 8 projects that have made it through to the Evaluation Process for the Imact programme. During the Evaluation Process SEI will spend a number of days with each applicant in an effort to gather more information concerning their project. From these we will then choose up to 3 social entrepreneurs for our Impact Programme. If youa re interested in helping them out, contact me at

FoodCloud – Iseult Ward & Aoibheann O’Brien (

FoodCloud is an online platform that matches businesses that have too much food with charities that have too little.

Project description

FoodCloud is a social enterprise set up with the aim of reducing food waste and food poverty and restoring community spirit based on shared food.

They facilitate the redistribution of surplus food from businesses to charitable organisations within communities. Using the app, or through the website, businesses who have registered with FoodCloud can upload details of their surplus food and the time period in which the food can be collected. The app then automatically sends a text message to the most appropriate charity groups in that area alerting them to the donation. The first charity to text back and accept the offer collects the donation directly from the business within the time specified. This low-cost technological solution makes the process of donating surplus food fast and efficient, especially necessary considering the perishable nature of most food products.

BUMBLEance – Tony Heffernan (

BUMBLEance is a dedicated children’s ambulance service, delivering smiles and sick children all over Ireland.

Project description

BUMBLEance is the first and most modern children’s ambulance service in the world. It is dedicated to bringing sick and critically ill children from all over Ireland to treatment centres, hospitals, hospices and respite centres. Inside the ambulance there are many new and innovative ideas including a world class entertainment system and WiFi internet. The child being transported can also choose DVDs or movies to play while travelling. The on-board entertainment includes PlayStation, iPad and Nubi in one of the most modern and comfortable ambulances in the world with two dedicated fully trained members of medical staff on board. BUMBLEance has been on the road since September 2013, and their aim is to have 5 ambulances in total, one for every province and and the Dublin area.

An Cosán’s Virtual Community College – Elizabeth Waters (

An Cosán’s Virtual Community College is bringing transformative education to communities struggling with poverty through a 21st century virtual learning environment.

Project description

An Cosán has a proven track record with its offline community education model. They facilitate over 600 students annually to access part-time education programmes and have maintained an excellent record of combating educational disadvantage over the past 27 years.

Through appropriate use of learning technologies, they plan to scale this experience and bring it to a national network of learners, which will support and reinforce the core values of the An Cosán approach. By virtualising the curriculum and engaging partners in other community education centres, they are hoping to train and support them to facilitate the delivery of their courses.

An Cosán’s vision for the future is that there is a network of community educators nationwide who are able to freely access curricula, programmes, advice and supports, allowing greater accessibility to education in disadvantaged communities and enhancing the quality of learning and educational outcomes.

Sensational Kids – Karen Leigh (

Sensational Kids provides a range of services for children of all ages and abilites, they fund these services through sales from their develpoment and learning store.

Project description

Sensational Kids was set up to provide accessible and affordable child development services for children of all abilities, including those with special needs. Their services are open to children of all ages and all abilities. Their mission is to realise the potential of all who use their services. They offer a wide range of services through their highly skilled multidisciplinary team that include: occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, specialist reading, psychological assessments, counselling for parents, and social skills amongst others.

To help fund these services they run a child development and learning store (online and onsite) where all profits help fund the therapy services for children. They also provide high level professional development training workshops for therapists and teachers who work with children with special needs. All proceeds from their training workshops help fund their therapy services.

Specialisterne – Peter Brabazon & Frank Holt (

Specialisterne matches, places and supports unemployed Autistic people in satisfying paid work roles.

Project description

Specialisterne Ireland’s objective is the identification and assessment of Asperger autistic and similarly challenged people (18 to 44 years of age) for placement in employment in IT and other tech industries and providing a support system for those people while in work.

Specialisterne Ireland’s (Specialist People in Danish) first office was launched in Dublin as a not for profit in December 2013 and opened a second office in Belfast recently in April 2014.

It is conservatively estimated that there are 1,500 people on the island of Ireland today that are suitable for the Specialisterne model and that this number is being added to each year by an additional 200. Their vision is to enable 500 people to achieve employment over a period of 10 years with a target that in five years 50 people will be working.

Nurture – Irene Lowry (

Nurture offers supports and counselling surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, supporting women, their partners and families.

Project description

Nurture offers accredited one to one partial or fully subsidised counselling within a 24 to 48 hour call to their help-line specific to Postpartum Depression (PPD). Alternatives to this service often involve a nine month waiting list to see a health service professional, or in severe cases can result in a traumatic A&E emergency situation.

Nurture offer a follow-up subsidised 10 week facilitated support-group programme. With 19 accredited counsellors who have undergone specific training in mental health issues and problems surrounding pregnancy & childbirth. They cover 14 counties with plans to expand nationwide in the 2014/2015 period. Through its help line, email and Skype services, Nurture provides immediate essential support to women, their partners and families when often there is nowhere else for them to turn to. Nurture helps save women’s lives and helps keep families together. It helps reduce trauma for women, their spouse/partner and their children when faced with the distress of pregnancy & childbirth related mental health problems.

Traveller Movement (Independent Law Centre) – Susan Fay (

The Irish Traveller Movement , Independent Law Centre was established to use the law to prevent anti-Traveller discrimination and promote equality.

Project description

The Irish Traveller Movement is a national membership organisation with over 40 member groups. It formed due to the need for Travellers to have a collective voice that highlighted and addressed the widespread abuse of Travellers’ human rights.

The Law Centre was established in 2009 and is staffed by one full time solicitor, Susan Fay, and volunteer interns who work on a roll basis. The Law Centre is in a unique position in that it is immersed in the Irish Traveller Movement, a grass-roots organisation with member groups from around Ireland.

The vision of the Law Centre is to work towards an Ireland where Travellers’ legal rights as a nomadic ethnic group are recognised and valued. This vision is achieved through taking strategic cases, providing legal advice and increasing the capacity of the Community in relation to its use and knowledge of the law.

Traveller Counselling Service – Thomas McCann (

The Traveller Counselling Service provide culturally inclusive counselling that recognises and respects the culturally specific needs of Travellers.

Project description

The Traveller Counselling Service is a community based counselling service that provides culturally inclusive counselling for the Traveller community. The Traveller community is an ethnic minority in Irish society with its own culture, traditions, norms and values that differ from the majority population. Failure to acknowledge these differences leads to misunderstanding and exclusion of Travellers which results in poor uptake of services that provide adequately for the majority population.

The Traveller Counselling Service recognises and respects the cultural differences and acknowledges the racism and exclusion that Travellers experience due to their cultural identity and the impact of this on Travellers daily lives. They correspondingly acknowledge that the exclusion and racism that Travellers have faced and the projection of negative stereotypes onto the community has been internalised and has led to poor mental health. The principles that underpin the Traveller Counselling Service are community development, equality, social justice and human rights.

The Final 8 – Impact:

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