Champion Changemakers quest for Ireland’s social entrepreneurs

270 enterprise centre and hubs across Ireland call on local social entrepreneurs to become ‘Champion Changemaker’ by winning a Dragon’s Den style challenge.

Social entrepreneurs who may have ideas to tackle social problems ranging from food waste and fast fashion to climate change, education, housing and mental health are being called on to step up and make their mark.

Community Enterprise Association Ireland (CEAI), through its network of enterprise centres and hubs, is hosting a series of regional events that will help you or your group build this idea into a service that could drive real change in your community.

“Social enterprises are key players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, delivering products and services primarily to improve the lives of people in communities around Ireland”

Entitled Champion Changemakers, the ambition is to find solutions that can be turned into products or services which will directly impact the lives of people in local communities around Ireland. This positive social change is often the basis for starting a business – also known as a Social Enterprise.

The purpose of these events is to promote the role of social enterprise in local communities.  Individuals will not need to have any experience of business or social enterprise, but will be driven by a passion to make a real difference in their own communities and beyond. Ideas will be classified under one of three key themes which are all encompassing:

  • Environment and Climate Action
  • Economic Inequality
  • Human Wellbeing

‘Dragon’s Den’ type events will take place over the weekend of September 23rd with selected teams going forward to a national Pitch-Fest in Dublin on October 20th, find out more on

The overall winning team will benefit from a bursary of key supports and services that any start-up would welcome.

Funding for the Champion Changemakers initiative secured from the Department of Rural and Community Development under the ARISE (Awareness Raising Initiatives for Social Enterprise) Scheme 2021.

“Social enterprises are key players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, delivering products and services primarily to improve the lives of people in communities around Ireland,” explained Siobhan Finn, Hub Network manager at Community Enterprise Association Ireland.

“The aim of this initiative is to empower, educate and inspire individuals to create concepts which can be turned into tangible products or services which could potentially solve large scale societal problems. Another key objective is to equip people with the skillset to start their social enterprises from scratch – including idea generation, how to market test and how to create impact for communities. 

“We are looking forward to seeing the innovation and talent of local changemakers representative of diverse community groups around the country come together to present their solutions for environmental, societal, or public realm challenges in their local communities.”

How to become a Champion Changemaker

Visit Community Enterprise Association Ireland’s website to find out where your local event is happening and details on how to sign-up. Anybody interested will be given the opportunity to work with local mentors to develop your idea and help prepare you to present and pitch it to a panel of experts in your local hub across the weekend of September 23rd 2022.

Finalists will be identified from each region and those shortlisted will participate in the national event on October 20th 2022.  The selected overall winning team will benefit from a bursary of key supports and services that any start-up would welcome.

“As we face the challenges of climate change, economic inequality and poverty, to sustain is not enough,” explained Fiona Louise Descoteaux, CEO of Innovate Communities.

“At Innovate Communities we believe Ireland must take a more active role in co-creating frameworks to build regenerative communities through place; to unleash the potential of local people and bring together their diverse skillsets to help shape an equitable future for us all. Working with CEAI to deliver ‘Champion Changemakers’ nationally will begin to generate awareness within local communities on the importance of building capacity to highlight and begin to solve local challenges, benefitting both people and place.”

Champion Changemakers will contribute to Ireland’s progress in overcoming challenges facing communities nationwide including youth unemployment, poverty, social injustice and the climates crisis, which will in turn help mobilise efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Agenda by 2030.

Regional Hubs
  • Innovate Communities – located in Ballymun, Dublin 9, this hub is inviting nationwide applicants
  • Meath Enterprise – located in Navan, Meath, this hub is inviting applicants from the entire Leinster region except Dublin
  • Creative Spark – located in Dundalk, Louth, this hub is inviting applicants from the Midlands region
  • Action Tuamlocated in Tuam, Galway, this hub is inviting applicants from the wider Connacht region
  • Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace – located in Trinity College Dublin, this hub is inviting applicants from Dublin city centre
  • RDI Hub + Dingle Creativity Hub – partnering to host applicants from the Mid and South West
Examples of successful social enterprises already in Ireland include:
  • Thriftify – a web platform that allows charities to offer second-hand items for sale online
  • Food Cloud – a social enterprise that connects businesses that have surplus food with charities and community groups that need it to combat food waste in Ireland
  • GIY Ireland – helping and educating people to become more sustainable by growing some of their own food with the goal to rebuild a sustainable food system
  • Too Good to Go – an app that lets people buy surplus food and drink from restaurants, grocery stores, pubs, cafes and producers to combat food waste in Ireland
  • Refill Ireland – non-profit organisation aiming to create a sustainable future by reducing plastic waste and trash in Irelandby eliminating single-use plastic bottles
  • Men’s Sheds Association – non-profit local organisations nationwide that provide a space for craftwork and social interaction to improve health and well-being of older men in communities

Main image at top: Siobhán Finn, National Hub Network Manager at CEAI with Gary O’Meara, Executive Director (Chairperson) at CEAI and CEO at Meath Enterprise at the unveiling of the 2022 Champion Changemakers Weekend

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.