Galway Community Circus awarded over €100,000 in social enterprise funding

Galway Community Circus is one of five trailblazing social enterprises awarded to accelerate change under Rethink Ireland's €700,000 Step-Up Fund.

On Monday, 13th March 2023, Rethink Ireland announced the awardees of its Social Enterprise Step-Up Fund. This is a €700,000 two-year Fund created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with Tomar Trust and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund.

This Fund was set up for established, mid-sized social enterprises with the aim of supporting them to be ready to scale. It focuses on elevated funding for social enterprises at the next stage and will help support and expand the social enterprise ecosystem in Ireland.

The Fund will provide critical support to innovative and impactful social enterprises across Ireland, helping them to:

  • Increase their social impact
  • Increase their traded income
  • Create (more) jobs
  • Develop long-term, effective and sustainable solutions.

Rethink Ireland has awarded social enterprises that are accelerating change nationwide, with a particular focus on communities in Galway, Cork, Limerick and Waterford. These social enterprises will receive a combination of cash grants and business supports to further expand their organisations, supporting people that are most in need.

Rethink Ireland provides cash grants and business supports to charities and social enterprises working in Irish communities across the country. The Step-Up Fund focuses on elevated funding for social enterprises at the next stage and aims to directly impact the social enterprise ecosystem in Ireland, supporting and expanding this vital sector to drive change.

The Social Enterprise Step-Up Fund 2023-24 awardees are:

  • Benchspace, a collaborative working hub aimed at providing people from disadvantaged backgrounds with resources to start new ventures in Cork;
  • Galway Community Circus, an accessible and engaging programme that reduces isolation and promotes empowerment in young people;
  • St Gabriel’s Orthotics, a health initiative providing affordable orthotics to children and adults with physical disabilities to improve their participation and quality of life in Limerick;
  • The Shona Project, a social enterprise with nationwide impact based in Waterford aiming to educate, empower, and inspire today’s girls in Ireland; an
  • The Urban Co-op, working in response to the displacement of nourishing food, reduced food awareness, security and increasing passive consumption in the disadvantaged areas of Limerick city.

The Step-Up Fund provides each awardee with cash grants of up to €118,750, a business support budget worth €12,000, and a place on Rethink Ireland’s Accelerator Programme.

Targeted supports in areas such as public procurement, developing service level agreements and scaling into new locations are just some of the areas that could make a significant difference to the scalability and sustainability of the awarded enterprises and thus their local social impact.

“At Galway Community Circus we strive to create connection, empower expression and support social change through the transformative power of circus arts," said Ulla Hokkanen, Executive Creative Director at Galway Community Circus. "We are thrilled to be an awardee of the Step-Up Fund and the support from Rethink Ireland, Tomar Trust and the Department of Rural and Community Development will enable us to grow our dynamic circus school to 3 locations, share our model of inclusive circus education throughout Ireland and develop and professionalise circus education with our academic, national and international partners. We are so grateful to Rethink Ireland for their support as we play our part in building more socially inclusive, resilient and sustainable communities.”