Guinness invites applications for Arthur Guinness Fund 2012

2 Nov 2011

Patrick Shannon, Andy Kinsella, Padraig Humby (Diageo), George Crine, John Evoy (Irish Men's Shed Association), Frank Dunlop, Dave Doche, Mick Meyler and Joe Ryan with the boat built in the Arklow Men's Community Shed

Guinness & Co is inviting applications from social enterprises in Ireland to vie for a chance to obtain between €50,000 and €100,000 each in the upcoming Arthur Guinness Fund to help move their ventures forward.

An extra €500,000 of funding and support has been added to the next fund. The Arthur Guinness Fund re-opened for applications yesterday, Tuesday, 1 November.  

To date, €1.65m has been awarded to a range of social entrepreneurial initiatives that are committed to making a positive and sustainable impact on communities all over Ireland. Successful projects in the current process will be eligible to receive between €50,000 and €100,000 each.

The Arthur Guinness Fund globally – Ashoka

Since establishing the Arthur Guinness Fund in 2009, €7.4m has been invested in the fund. This figure includes the €2.5m allocated to the Arthur Guinness Fund in Ireland.

Guinness has also invested in projects in Africa, Indonesia, the US and the UK. Most recently, Guinness announced a global partnership with Ashoka to enable the deployment of the funds to new social entrepreneurial projects around the world.

History of the fund

Established as part of the Guinness 250th celebrations, The Arthur Guinness Fund is an investment programme that honours the philanthropic legacy of Arthur Guinness by supporting the vision and enterprising spirit of social entrepreneurs in Ireland.  

Earlier this year, as part of the Arthur’s Day celebrations in September, Guinness committed to adding a further €500,000 to The Arthur Guinness Fund.  

To make the Arthur Guinness Fund accessible to as wide a range of projects and initiatives as possible, applications are sought under two main categories.  

Firstly, established projects (termed as take-off projects), which have had proven working models in operation for two to five years and can demonstrate the long-term impact they are having in their communities, are eligible to receive financial support up to €100,000. This funding will be provided over two years along with a comprehensive business-mentoring programme with a view to taking their work to the next level. This includes additional expertise and practical support from Diageo Ireland through workshops, seminars and training.

Projects that have been established in the last two years (termed as start-up projects) are also invited to apply to receive up to €50,000 in funding plus the professional mentoring support over two years. This award is specifically aimed at start-up projects that require a springboard to help turn their visions into a reality.

Since its inception, €1.65m of funding, as well as professional business support, has been provided to 20 Irish social entrepreneurs.

Work by the most recent Arthur Guinness Fund awardees focuses on a range of areas, including:

  • Creating employment opportunities for the disabled
  • Returning former prisoners to work
  • Shaping the right environment for men to rebuild their self-esteem during unemployment, and much more.

“By supporting innovative and inspiring projects, the Arthur Guinness Fund is providing a much-needed spark to bring about long-lasting positive change in our society. As we now enter the third year, it is really exciting to be able to see and be inspired by the tangible results of The Arthur Guinness Fund, especially with the projects which are now entering their second year of the programme,” said Peter O’Brien, corporate relations director, Diageo Western Europe.

“We recognise how difficult it can be for projects like these to secure funding and professional business mentoring. Guinness is delighted to be able to support them both financially and through our bespoke support and mentoring programme in order to further the work they do in their communities,” he said.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) and how to apply for funding from the Arthur Guinness Fund

Awardees also benefit from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s alumni network and events.  

Applications to the Arthur Guinness Fund remain open until 5pm on Wednesday, 30 November 2011. Those interested in applying can download an application form from the Arthur Guinness Fund website.

The social enterprises that obtained funding in 2011 and 2010

Hand on Heart Enterprises, which obtained funding from The Arthur Guinness Fund 2011

Hand on Heart Enterprises – a model for supportive enterprise that helps
visually impaired people find meaningful work

The Arthur Guinness Fund 2011 awardees:

  • Hand on Heart Enterprises – a model for supportive enterprise that helps people who are blind or have poor vision to find meaningful work
  • Irish Men’s Sheds Association: – unique environments all over the country where men, particularly those hit by unemployment, can recover their self-esteem through a mix of education, up-skilling and health promotion
  • Decisions for Heroes – a software application that enables rescue workers to spot trends and patterns in accidents and thus target their missions more effectively
  • The Fumbally Exchange (FEx) –  a new design hub in the heart of Dublin’s Liberties in which entrepreneurs, the unemployed, sole traders and small businesses can come together to share not just office space but ideas, energy and innovation
  • H2 Learning – a new virtual learning platform called AdultMaths, which helps those who may be uncomfortable about returning to traditional adult education to up-skill in this critical field
  • Turn2Me – An online interactive community comprising of 3,500 people who help and support each other in a peer-to-peer environment
  • U-Casadh – A programme to help former prisoners re-integrate into the workplace, providing sheltered training and employment to build structure, confidence and self-esteem
  • Fundit – A new web platform that gives the public an opportunity to ‘fund’ ideas they like in return for creative rewards
  • West Cork Rapid Response – an efficient use of local voluntary resources, to bring the same standard of intensive care drugs, monitoring equipment, diagnostics and skills found in the best hospital resuscitation rooms in Europe to rural areas
  • ViTartes – a web platform which enables in care patients to remain connected with their families, friends and the outside world.

The Arthur Guinness Fund 2010 awardees:

  • Anam Cara – bereavement support service focusing on the needs of parents and siblings
  • Camara – re-using technology to tackle global waste and education in disadvantaged areas  
  • Growing Locally – training people on low incomes to grow their own produce and improve their diet and exercise
  • Fáilte Isteach – supporting older people to make a difference especially within migrant communities
  • Grow It Yourself – promoting and encouraging food-growing skills and the sharing of knowledge
  • Kanchi – driving best practice in the inclusion of people with disabilities within society
  • Pieta House – service focused on suicide prevention and intervention in a supportive environment
  • Rediscover Fashion – recycling textiles establishing a new generation of eco-conscious socially aware consumers  
  • Speedpak WAM – a social enterprise providing employment and up-skilling for the long-term unemployed
  • Suas – a service learning programme for young Irish people to help them become the leaders of the future.


What is a social entrepreneur?

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) directly supports the early stage development of social entrepreneurs by providing a range of supports.

These supports consist of financial investment in social entrepreneurs, technical training, peer networking, mentoring and links to other social entrepreneur networks.

A social entrepreneur is someone with a business head and a social heart, and someone who has the spirit, energy and drive of successful business entrepreneurs, but rather than building profitable businesses, their core purpose is to improve and enhance society, changing communities for the better, says SEI.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic