Placing the Irish Social Enterprise Ecosystem within the wider European Landscape
The launch in 2019 of Ireland’s first National Social Enterprise Policy has meant a significant milestone for the institutitonalisation of social enterprise within the country. However, this milestone needs to be placed within a wider framework which encompasses the Irish social enterprise ecosystem and the European landscape of social enterprises. This paper explores different elements of the Irish social enterprise ecosystem, including its policy context, definition adopted and legal forms. Moreover, it explores the private recognition through certification and marks, the development of support and advocacy networks and organisations, academia and research, and funding/financing mechanisms. These elements are contrasted with the situation in other European countries to provide a contextualized picture of the Irish social enterprise sector. The paper concludes that Ireland’s social enterprise ecosystem presents some specificities, such as the CLG as a dominant legal form and the predominance of the WISE model, but generally aligns with wider social enterprises trends at European level.