Limerick based budding social entrepreneurs attend Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s ‘virtual bootcamp’

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A DIVERSITY and inclusion talent platform, a mobile sensory room, a carpooling app and a garden based education programme were just some of the ideas explored at Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI)’s Ideas Academy ‘virtual bootcamp’ that took place this week.

More than 100 budding social entrepreneurs – people starting an enterprise with the aim to solving social issues or effecting social change – attended the online event with participants logging in from Limerick, Laois, Cork, Clare, Galway and beyond.

Each of the Bootcamp participants were given the chance to pitch for a place on the programme over the past two weeks, participants made their application virtually to a live panel of judges comprised of SEI supporters and staff.

The event, which took place on Tuesday, June 2, brought all the bootcamp participants together online for a series of workshops and networking opportunities.

Now in its fourth year, SEI’s Ideas Academy programme provides training and support to those with early-stage ideas to solve social problems. The four-month programme includes interactive sessions on organisational structures, governance, and piloting, and culminates with the opportunity to pitch for seed funding from a total pot of €40,000.

This year’s Ideas Academy saw a record number of 245 people apply and put forward their idea to solve a social problem. Up to 60 places are available on the programme. Initially due to run in locations in the East, South and West of the country, due to COVID-19, SEI has re-designed the Ideas Academy in recent weeks to run it online and transition to in-person delivery, if and when possible during the lifespan of the programme.

Today’s event also gave bootcamp participants the opportunity to hear from SEI alumni including Tracy Keogh, co-founder of Grow Remote and Jolene Cox, founder of the Now We’re Cooking Programme.

CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, Darren Ryan said the group was “incredibly heartened and inspired by the number of people who answered our call to see past the problems to the solutions”.

He said, “We launched our national call before any of the coronavirus restrictions came into place, when the world looked very different to how it does now. During the campaign, we pivoted our offering and delivery to match the current needs of social entrepreneurs starting out and are excited to now roll out the Ideas Academy online for the first time ever.”

The SEI CEO noted the Bootcamp events are usually a great opportunity “to not only spark ideas into action, but to connect like-minded social entrepreneurs with each other”.

“And although this is more challenging when we can’t physically be in the same room together, the courage, passion and determination shown by all bootcamp participants this year has been second to none. We look forward to working with those who make it onto the programme over the coming months,” he said.

SEI’s selection process is supported by DCC plc. The lead corporate sponsor of the Ideas Academy is Bank of America. The Ideas Academy West is supported by Lifes2good Foundation.

For more information on Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, visit socialentrepreneurs.ie.