Pictured at the BNest Social Enterprise Incubator Showcase 2019 at Nexus Innovation Centre, UL was Eamon Ryan and Kasia Zabinska, BNest (4th and 5th back row left) with the graduates of the BNest 2018-2019 programme. Picture: Conor Owens/ilovelimerick.
PHOTOS – BNest Social Incubator Showcase 2019 gives a voice to Midwest Social Enterprises
BNest, the first dedicated Social Enterprise Incubator, is an initiative created specifically to support social entrepreneurs nurture their start-ups, and caters to all types of organisations from charities to businesses with a social conscience. On Tuesday, March 12, BNest held their Showcase Day 2019 at Nexus Innovation Centre in UL to highlight these enterprises and the substantial progress that has been made with the help of BNest, as well as to allow others to view the real social impact that each individual organisation is having on the broader community they are serving. BNest Social Incubator Showcase 2019
Since September 2016, in partnership with Nexus Centre UL, BNest have been running a six-month programme in which emerging social enterprises learn how to get their new organisations off to the best start by focusing on key areas related to developing their enterprises, in terms of business, social and personal aspects.
Eamon Ryan who founded and self-funded BNest said, “We are the first fully-fledged social incubator in Ireland, and the idea was to create a peer group which shared experiences that could help one another. BNest has been given a home by the University of Limerick, where participants have access to the full facilities of the Nexus Innovation Centre. Last year, eight enterprises completed the programme, and this year another ten enterprises took part.”
At the BNest Social Incubator Showcase 2019, the graduates showcased their enterprises, which are achieving real social impact across the Midwest, dealing with various issues from mental health to the environment.
In addition to the display booths, a short informal presentation was made by each enterprise including Bereft.ie, a support service for families that provides an online resource, and Thinking Jobs, a specialist recruitment agency aimed at getting a significant number of adults with Disabilities into sustainable and long-term employment.
Guest speakers included Shay Kinsella, founder and CEO of Share a Dream Foundation, Dr Sarah Miller, CEO of The Rediscovery Centre, a creative space connecting people, ideas and resources for greener living in Ireland and Professor Kerstin Mey, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Engagement at University of Limerick.
Professor Kerstin Mey spoke about the cohesive relationship the University of Limerick had with BNest saying, “I think you are fantastic role models for our students, the university is aiming to broaden out entrepreneurship education, including education for social entrepreneur to stimulate young people to direct their energy and their passion towards identifying and finding solutions for the issues we are facing in society, that is climate change, sustainability, or community cohesion, so it is great to see all the projects.”
Shay Kinsella spoke about his social enterprise, Share a Dream Foundation. Shay built an inclusive play centre that was suitable for all ages and abilities. Shay said, “Let’s build something in Limerick that no one else in the whole of Europe has, something really special, then all the kids, instead of going to Disney, can come to Limerick and we’ll look after them”. Share a Dream Foundation opened Dreamland, an inclusive play centre two years ago now and have had over 23,000 visitors across Ireland.
The next speaker was Dr Sarah Miller who spoke about the importance of creative social enterprises that connect people, ideas and resources. From an early age, Sarah looked at, “waste management and how we could be more resourceful.” Sarah said, “My real career as a social enterprise manager started when I moved to Ballymun.” Sarah was exposed to the, “surplus of furniture which was being disposed of to landfill also there is very high unemployment rates in Ballymun.” From there Sarah set up the Rediscovery Centre, which “rediscovers the value of waste materials” and employs the local people of Ballymun.
Current BNest Incubator participant, Project Inspire, led by Kelly Fitzgerald of Tait’s House Community Enterprise, helps young people to prepare for their future. Kelly says that working with BNest has, “Given us more confidence in how to grow our initiative. The ongoing support for our project will continue to be invaluable as we move into a brighter future.”
Limerick Gateway to Education, an educational support charity, was part of the BNest Incubator from 2016 to 2017. Founder, Suzanne Roche said, “I took part in the BNest Incubator programme and its content and ongoing support for our project has continued to be invaluable. It’s a fantastic programme as you have on the spot follow up if issues arise. A great programme to get involved in, if you’re a start-up.”
Eamon concluded, “These passionate people have worked on their projects for the past 6 months and it was so exciting to have a showcase event, so people could learn about each of the projects and meet the people behind them. It was a privilege to have people in this group working on real issues and problems facing our community and society in general.”
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