Six Irish social entrepreneurs awarded €240,000 to support their projects

9 Oct 2019

The SEI Award winners. Image: Julian Behal Photography

This year’s winners at the SEI Awards include a project to connect remote workers in rural areas, a programme to help understand and treat anxiety, and an anti-bullying project, among others.

On Wednesday (9 October), six Irish start-ups were awarded more than €240,000 in funding and support at the 2019 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) Awards. These businesses set out to solve and ease a number of societal issues including farm safety, property theft, anxiety among young people and bullying in schools.

The six winning organisations receive an equal share of  €120,000 in funding, alongside an additional €120,000 worth of non-financial support to help transform and grow their projects. The announcement was made this evening at the SEI Awards event at the Mansion House in Dublin.

The SEI programme identifies high-potential social entrepreneurs and supports them through funding and mentoring, as well as providing access to a network of support. Since SEI was founded in 2004, it has supported more than 300 social entrepreneurs who have impacted the lives of an estimated 1.7m people across Ireland.

The winners

This year, AgriKids, a farm safety education programme founded by Alma Jordan, was one of the recipients of the funding award. AgriKids aims to engage, educate and empower children to be farm safety ambassadors through classroom resources, interactive workshops, storybooks and a child-friendly game app. The business is based in Meath.

Community-led crime prevention initiative Property Marking Ireland also won access to the funding and resources provided by SEI. This start-up uses a combined strategy to deter crime through a mixture of marking goods and property with a specially designed machine and large signage. Founder James O’Neill is from Westmeath and is based in Tipperary.

Tracy Keogh’s Grow Remote, a project that aims to end rural emigration and the impact it has on the Irish countryside, was another winner. Grow Remote connects users with remote working positions and local remote working communities, strengthening the remote economy in towns throughout the country. Keogh is based in Galway.

Limerick-based JumpAGrade, founded by David Neville and Pádraic Hogan, employs an innovative model for the provision of secondary school grinds, allowing every student the opportunity to get the tutoring support they need to succeed.

Another winner based in Limerick is The Ease Project. Founded by Boris Hunka, the project aims to recognise, normalise and treat anxiety in students. The Ease Project delivers workshops that combine music with visuals to explore what anxiety is and the various ways it manifests, and how it can be managed.

Dublin-based Helping Hands was the final winner. Founded by Dr Maria Garvey, Helping Hands is an anti-bullying programme that provides schools with the tools and training to enable teachers to identify and prevent bullying before it can start. While Garvey’s business is run in Dublin, the founder is a Meath native.

Courage, ambition, energy and commitment

CEO of SEI, Darren Ryan, said: “Over the past 15 years, SEI has led the way in identifying and supporting social entrepreneurs in Ireland. The calibre of the 120 applicants to the awards programme this year is testament to the fact that there are social entrepreneurs in every community across the country.

“What is most inspiring is people aren’t just coming up with new ideas, they are working tirelessly to put them into action,” he added.

“The courage, ambition, energy and commitment demonstrated by the 2019 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awardees to solving the social problems they have identified is truly inspiring.

“From life in the classroom to life on the farm, from helping communities across Ireland to protect their property, to connecting workers across Ireland working remotely, this year’s awardees are already starting to change Ireland for the better. I look forward to seeing these six projects evolve into highly impactful, effective, scalable and sustainable organisations and wish to congratulate the awardees on their efforts so far.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic