The founders of SEACHT, the Armagh social enterprise project, are to attend the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) in Amsterdam this month.
Armagh-based cultural entrepreneurs Máire Ní Phronntaigh and Gearóid Ó Machail are among the delegates at what is expected to be the world’s largest social enterprise conference.
The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) Annual Conference 2023 will take place from October 11 to 12 and will bring social economy leaders, changemakers, government leaders and more to the venue to connect with thousands of purpose-driven people.
Delegates will be part of the bold conversations and actions that will shape the future of our world, from building climate solutions to improving fairness within new economies and more.
The theme of this year’s SEWF is ‘Collective Action. Sustainable Change’.
Máire and Gearóid are the founders of SEACHT, which is based in the Aonach Mhacha Cultúrlann in the Shambles. The Benburb entrepreneurs were also co-founders of the social enterprises Aonach Mhacha in 2011 and CAIRDE Teo in 2009.
Formed in 2015, the role of SEACHT in the local community is revealed in its full title – Social Enterprise for Arts, Culture, Heritage and Tourism.
Since its establishment in 2015, the community-facing business has been generating revenue from a variety of commercial activities including product customisation, consultancy services, gift shop, café, event and conference coordination, training and mentoring.
SEACHT regularly employs learners of the Irish language, including students who wish to achieve fluency by using their spoken and written Irish in a cooperative working environment.
Social enterprises seek to maximize benefits to society and the environment, and their profits are principally used to fund social programmes. All profits generated from SEACHT’s business activities are locally reinvested in Irish language and social justice projects.
Speaking exclusively to Armagh I, SEACHT CEO Máire Ní Phronntaigh explained her reasons for attending the World Forum in Amsterdam.
She said: “The SEWF is an excellent opportunity to access world-class content, connect with thousands of other purpose-driven people and be part of the world’s largest social enterprise conversation.
“It’s simply inspiring to meet other people from around the world who aspire to achieve an environment where society profits and the social economy excels at addressing and meeting community needs.
“Putting people before profits has never been more important in a world facing huge existential challenges.”
Continued Máire: “In all our social economy ventures, we endeavour to think globally and act locally. The importance of the social economy is enormously undervalued by government and local authorities.
“We hope that by combining with a global social enterprise movement, we can put pressure on policy makers to recognise the excellent work being done at community and ground level by social change champions in Armagh and across Ireland.”