A few months ago, we organised our first Ask&Advise evening – it was one of our most successful events ever. It was helpful, positive and fun – too good to simply stop there, so we’re organising another one!

 

Why was it so good?

Recipe was simple:

– gather in one room people engaged in social enterprises/charities and people wiling to share their knowledge, experience and skills to help these good causes;

– make sure everyone was comfortable and fed (big kudos to BoI Workbench Limerick for letting us to use their wonderful city centre location);

– ensure the questions to be asked were small, day-to-day challenges that required practical advice.

And let’s not forget the ‘secret ingredient’ –  our host – Chris M Gordon from Irish Social Enterprise Network, who’s enthusiasm and positive energy made the evening so enjoyable.

What questions were asked?

Display lighting

Phyl Guerin from Visual Limerick, the person behind the art, design & history displays in vacant premises around Limerick City and County turned to the crowd to find a way to make her displays better visible after dark:

My particular query dealt with lighting  issues in buildings without electricity. Feedback was positive about who to contact re solar solution or onsite generator.

My project ideation received a positive response of a temporary city centre window offer which i availed of for a one month period courtesy of BOI Workbench.

Phyl not only got some smart suggestions on battery & solar powered lighting solutions, got couple of phone numbers of people that could supply them or advise further, but also got an offer from BoI Workbench to use their window for her display! This was brilliant moment – such a great opportunity simply emerged out of nowhere!

I found the Ask & Advise evening to be a very warm, inclusive event where everybody was on your side and quick to brainstorm and suggest solutions, and ‘go to’ people.

 

Data base management

Liam Fleming from Siul Eile, who organises walking programmes was looking for an advice on how to effectively manage the walkers information – to help him track the number of participants, number of miles walked etc.

Result? He got in touch with an ‘IT Wizard’, who was able to build a custom database for him, making the admin work involved in organising the walks much, much easier.

This is how Liam described his experience:

My problem was how to analyse the data I was collecting on the walking programs more efficiently.

When I through out my question to the audience, I received a host of possible solutions.

One of those solutions came from Anna, who husband Blazej is a database programmer expert. I subsequently met up with Anna and Blazej and they were able to put in place a more efficient way for me to record my data, that easily gave me the vital statistics I was looking for like how many kms a person walked and how much the group walked as a whole.

 

Office space

Keith from Limerick Autism Group was at the early stages of setting up the business and asked for advice on office space.

As we had some representatives of local development companies and other organisations providing start-up supports – ‘go-to’ names were flying in! But he also got interesting ‘outside the box’ suggestion to rent a small apartment in a quiet area, which given the nature of his business might actually work pretty well.

 

Wooden products ideas

Margaret, who is involved in Palls – a social enterprise employing ex-offenders asked for ideas of popular wooden products they could produce.

Again, ideas came flooding – and some of the suggestions were simply brilliant!

 

And if this wasn’t helpful enough, we’ve spend the rest of the evening chatting, getting to know each other, making more connections and of course… enjoying beer and pizza!

 

So if this sounds good to you – please join us on 9th May for ‘Ask&Advise 2’ at BoI Workbench, O’Connell Street, Limerick at from 6-8pm.

No asking for money, no asking for volunteers – just your brain for an hour or so in return for beer and pizza.