Limerick social enterprise Kitchen Express set to unveil their initiative via ISBC virtual showcase

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The team of the Irish Social Business Campus pictured at the Limerick Strand Hotel - Breda Fitzgerald, Learning & Activities Coordinator, Eamon Ryan, CEO ISBC, Pauline Gannon, Director of Social Purpose & Impact and Ken Baird, Marketing Officer. Picture: Richard Lynch/ilovelimerick

THE Irish Social Business Campus (ISBC) is reaching the end of its 5th dedicated social enterprise incubator programme, ‘Business for Social Impact’.

The free programme designed specifically to create and develop sustainable businesses that make a positive social impact was run in cooperation with SECAD in Midleton, Co. Cork.

The 2020 incubator has seen nine new initiatives advance through the five-month programme.

One of these enterprises called Kitchen Express is located on the Ennis Road in Limerick. The enterprise founded by Zelie Houlihan, a lady originally from Kerry but who has called Limerick her home for almost 40 years.

Kitchen Express partners with existing community service providers to provide a nutritious takeaway service, an affordable alternative takeaway service to families in the community aligned to their taste and needs in convenience food.

Kitchen Express has a huge commitment to good nutritional food. Zelie did her Masters in Youth, Community and Regeneration and is keen to expand the Takeaway options available in communities and bring positive benefits to family’s health and wellbeing.

She also saw opportunity in that many communities have commercial kitchen facilities, such as in community centres, which could be utilised to follow the rising trend in demand for Takeaway food. This initiative also has potential employment and training opportunities within the community.

Since January this year, the nine Irish Social Business Campus participants have been immersed in educational workshops, sessions with consultants and mentors and on Thursday, July 16 their progress will be unveiled on Zoom via an Online Showcase full of the feel-good factor.

Zelie Houlihan of Kitchen Express said, “Taking part in the ISBC program has been hugely positive for me and has helped me progress my Social Enterprise project significantly. The program leaders have been very supportive, their availability to advise and guide on individual project concerns has been beneficial. A sincere thank you to the ISBC Team for a practical and enjoyable programme.”

Eamon Ryan, CEO of ISBC said; “Covid-19 has proven how the well-being of our communities is dependent on people who step beyond the norm in addressing unmet demand for critical services. We all owe an increasing debt to those socially motivated people, as exemplified by our participants, who simply want to contribute positively to the benefit of us all.”

The range of challenges tackled in the 2020 Programme is very diverse. These range from creativity and wellness in young children, upper limb stroke rehabilitation, enhancing fitness in the older generations to a community centric arts hub and much more. Participants came from throughout Munster including Cork, Kerry and Limerick and in keeping with the communities they serve, demonstrated great resilience in adapting mid programme to an ‘on-line’ delivery. Indeed, some also adapted their delivery in direct response to Covid-19 within the programme.

Pauline Gannon, Director of Social Purpose at ISBC says “Our virtual 2020 Showcase demonstrates the talent we have in Ireland for innovation and creativity. Business with a social conscience, if we have learnt nothing else in the current climate, it’s that these finalists will be pivotal in helping rebuild our society and drive forward our economy.”

The ISBC is a new collaborative initiative, set-up in the interest of providing a support system for social enterprises across Ireland. Their aim is to help foster a growing community of viable, robust and socially impactful businesses and individuals.

Registration details to watch the showcase will be available on the ISBC website. So, grab a cuppa at 3pm on Thursday 16 July to find out more about the ‘Business for Social Impact’ programme and enjoy some good news stories from the 2020 participants. For more information see www.isbc.ie