A new €1.6m fund has been launched to support social enterprises around the country.

The money will be managed by Social Innovation Fund Ireland, doubling the amount it has invested since its launch in 2018.

Social enterprises are companies with a social or community-focused mission, which operate on a not-for-profit basis.

"A social enterprise is just like any organisation, except instead of making a profit it aims to make a surplus," said Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Social Innovation Fund Ireland. 

"What it then does is plough that surplus back into its own mission; and what makes social enterprises special is that they're really part of the fabric of Ireland."

Last night SIFI marked its first two years of existence with a showcase of the enterprises it had already invested in.

That includes Siel Bleu, which offers exercise programmes to older and disabled people, and Bounce Back Recycling - which diverts old mattresses away from landfill. 

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"Bounce Back Recycling have recycled 15,000 mattresses which would have otherwise gone to landfill; they also employ seven members of the traveller community who would have otherwise found it difficult to get employment," Ms Mortell said. 

"With the support they had from the Social Enterprise Development Fund this year they will be able to open a new centre in Sligo and they'll be able to increase their matters recycling from 15,000 to 25,000 mattresses".

"You might not believe this but 25,000 mattresses will fill Croke Park - so if you think about that much landfill saved that is a massive environmental impact," she added. 

To date, SIFI has supported 142 jobs across the enterprises it has invested in, which in turn provide services to 35,100 people.

The new funding has been provided by IPB Insurance and the Department of Rural and Community Development, through the Dormant Accounts Fund.

SIFI expects to support 16 social entrepreneurs with the money, offering grants of €10,000 to €50,000 to each organisation.