James Whelton awarded €200,000 from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland

19 Oct 2012

Aviva Cohen, Tony Griffin, James Whelton and Karl Swan, winners of the Social Enterpreneurs Ireland Impact awards. Photo courtesy Shane O'Neill/Fennells

It has been a great week for James Whelton, having become Ashoka’s youngest fellow and securing €100,000 worth of investment. He now starts his weekend as a 2012 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland award winner, receiving a further €200,000 to put into his new Hello World Foundation.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation that supports people with new and innovative solutions to societal problems in Ireland. A total of €775,000 was awarded to social entrepreneurs at a ceremony in Dublin’s Temple Bar last night, with Whelton, Aviva Cohen of Neuro Hero, and Tony Griffin and Karl Swan from Soar each receiving the Impact award of €200,000.

Neuro Hero provides a home-based family support package for people with reduced communication ability that uses apps for mobile devices and computers, while Soar creates and delivers programmes for young people that instil self-confidence and equip them with positive life skills.

A further five awardees received the €35,000 Elevator award: Lucy Masterson of Hireland, Emma Murphy of The Turning Institute, Rachel Cassen and Claire Murphy of Leap, Trevor White of City of a Thousand Welcomes, and George Boyle of Fumbally Exchange.

Whelton’s wonderful week

Earlier this week at the Dublin Web Summit, 20-year-old Whelton became the youngest-ever recipient of the Ashoka Fellowship, securing €100,000 worth of investment through a partnership led by Intel to put into his Hello World Foundation.

Testament to the work of Whelton and the dojos across Ireland, young coding prodigies joined him at the Summit, wowing the tech elite with their knowledge, skills and entrepreneurial spirit.

Call for a minister of State for social enterprise

Since launching in 2005, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland has invested €4.9m into supporting 161 social entrepreneurs. In turn, this investment has supported more than 200,000 people and created more than 800 employment opportunities.

“Ireland cannot afford to ignore these social entrepreneurs and their ideas because, given the right support and investment, they can provide solutions to some of the big challenges our country faces,” said Seán Coughlan, CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. “Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is here to help but we cannot do it alone. Ireland needs to invest more in social innovation.”

Pointing to how effective investment in business has encouraged a dynamic and successful entrepreneurial culture and start-up environment in Ireland, Coughlan thinks it’s time for the same thinking to be applied to the not-for-profit sector.

“We need more people who are prepared to back early stage, high-potential social entrepreneurs, not-for-profit start-ups and social enterprises,” he said. “And to help make this happen, a minister of State should be appointed with specific responsibility for social entrepreneurship and social enterprise and should be tasked with developing a national social innovation policy.”

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic