Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) collaboration with Foróige on increasing social enterprise awareness among young people



Policy areas

Organisation name Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD)

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Contact person: Conor Foy


Social enterprises are businesses whose core objective is to achieve a social, societal or environmental impact. They play an important part in contributing to the economy by addressing societal issues, supporting disadvantaged groups and increasingly dealing with acute challenges. There are approximately 4 300 social enterprises in Ireland making a significant contribution to the Irish economy with income of €2.34 billion in 2021, employing 3.7 per cent of the Irish workforce (84 382), with an additional 74 825 volunteers. A recent Eurobarometer study on young people’s attitudes towards social entrepreneurship showed that they place importance on social and environmental goals in employment. However, lack of awareness among young people in Ireland meant the sector was failing to attract them and capitalise on their passion for positive social and environmental change.


Informed by this, DRCD in partnership with Foróige, which is a national youth development organisation, sought to create a project aimed at raising awareness of social enterprise among younger generations, investing in the years to come.

The project aims to educate young people about social enterprise and its many benefits, and encourage them to participate in the sector. The project provides hands-on experience in social enterprises, so that young people better understand how these enterprises can address social and environmental issues, in line with the National Social Enterprise Policy. Another objective is to promote social enterprise as a viable model for social entrepreneurs and innovators within the education and training system. Empowering young people to become social entrepreneurs, this combines their business and life skills with their passion for making a positive impact on the world and the lives of others. The initiative also seeks to provide opportunities for young people, including those from disadvantaged communities, to contribute to the development of social enterprise in Ireland.


To realise these objectives a one-year taught module on social enterprise in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship Programme (NFTE) programme was created. This hybrid online and in-person module is delivered by Foróige annually. Since 2020, 280 teachers have delivered the programme to over 15 000 students. Staff working on the module also include two Foróige staff who oversee it, and four staff in DRCD who provide general oversight, policy guidance and financial support. The module received €30 000 per year in funding from DRCD from 2020 to 2022, increasing to €40 000 per year from 2023.

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