The Department of Rural and Community Development has published Ireland's first ever Social Enterprise Policy.

The policy is designed to provide support for social enterprise in 3 key areas: building awareness, fostering growth and improving policy alignment.

According to the Department, "social enterprises are businesses whose core objective is to achieve a social, societal or environmental impact.

Like other businesses, social enterprises trade in goods or services on an ongoing basis. However, any surpluses they generate are re-invested into achieving social impact." 

Michael Ring, Minister for Rural and Community Development, spoke about the new policy at Speedpak CLG, a social enterprise based in Coolock, Dublin.

"For a number of years there have been calls for a Government policy to help social enterprise reach its full potential," Mr Ring said.

"I am delighted, therefore, to be able to publish this National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland which will enable social enterprise to grow in scale, support jobs, and make a positive impact on individuals and communities in rural and urban areas."

Social finance providers Clann Credo and Social Innovation Fund Ireland welcomed the policy.

"This new policy will greatly assist the many hundreds of organizations that are committed to delivering positive social or environmental outcomes and who reinvest their profits in their community," Paul O’Sullivan, CEO of Clann Credo, said. 

"This in turn will lead to both provision and preservation of badly needed jobs and services at the local level in every region of Ireland." 

"This national strategy is important if the untapped potential of this sector is to be realised," Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Social Innovation Fund Ireland, said.

"We welcome the Government’s continued commitment to creating the environment in which social innovation can flourish and the supports they need to expand and grow."