'What social enterprise can do for you'

December 13, 2014
Release Date: 
December 13, 2014

An Irish Times special report on social entrepreneurship highlights the work of Ashoka Fellows in Ireland

On 13th December, the Irish Times published a series of articles on social enterprise and innovation in their print and online issues. The article series revisited an Irish Times special report, Blueprint for a Smarter Society (published 26th October 2013) asking writers to imagine a future of "engaged citizens in a smart society and not just alienated workers in a smart economy."

December's article series included 'What social enterprise can do for you,' which examined the concept of social entrepreneurs as "people who show that by thinking and acting in a different way, communities can be improved." Written by Barry Flinn, the article highlighted the work of two social entrepreneurs working in Ireland: Thorkil Sonne, Founder of Specialisterne, a recruitment company for high-functioning people on the autism spectrum, and Neil McCabe, a fireman from Dublin who has turned Kilbarrack fire station into the first carbon-negative station in the world through his sustainability model, the Green Plan.

Another featured article, 'Solving the biggest social problems requires a willingness to fail,' spoke with social entrepreneurs Krystian Fikert, Founder of mental health centre MyMind, and Emma Murphy, Founder of the Turning Institute, about the challenges that many social enterprises face during the start-up phase. According to Fikert, several near-failures taught him valuable lessons about how to achieve growth and - crucially - how to successfully apply for funding: "Don't try to expand too quickly... Ask questions. Don't be afraid to look for help."

Thorkil Sonne, Neil McCabe and Krystian Fikert are Ashoka Fellows working in Ireland.

Firefighter David Walsh at Kilbarrack fire station in Dublin, where his colleague Neil McCabe introduced 40 micro wind turbines to produce all the electricity it needed. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

All of the articles can be accessed online for free. Visit the Irish Times website to read the articles in full.