by ilovelimerick correspondent, Chloe O’Keeffe

BNest, the first dedicated Social Enterprise Incubator, is an initiative created specifically to support social entrepreneurs nurture their start-ups, and caters to all types of organisations from charities to businesses with a social conscience. On Tuesday, March 13, BNest are holding their Showcase Day 2018 to highlight these enterprises and the substantial progress that has been made with the help of BNest, as well as to allow others to view the real social impact that each individual organisation is having on the broader community they are serving.

Since September 2016, in partnership with Nexus Centre UL, BNest have been running a six-month programme in which emerging social enterprises learn how to get their new organisations off to the best start by focusing on key areas related to developing their enterprises, in terms of business, social and personal aspects.

Eamon Ryan who founded and self-funded BNest said, “We are the first fully fledged social incubator in Ireland, and the idea was to create a peer group which shared experiences that could help one another. BNest has been given a home by the University of Limerick, where participants have access to the full facilities of the Nexus Innovation Centre. The venture is being philanthropically funded for three years at a cost of about €20,000 per programme, while participation is free for the enterprises selected. Last year, nine enterprises completed the programme, and there are another eight enterprises taking part in this year’s programme.”

At the BNest Showcase 2018, the graduates will showcase their enterprises which are achieving real social impact across the Midwest, dealing with various issues from mental health to the environment. Eamon adds, “These passionate people have worked on their projects for the past 6 months and we are excited to invite you to join us for a showcase event, where you’ll learn more about each of the projects and meet the people behind them.”

In addition to the display booths a short informal presentation will be made by each enterprise including Limerick Autism Group, a support service for autistic children, their parents and siblings and Visual Limerick, a project to help showcase the positive attributes of Limerick by utilising shop windows and promoting Limerick’s educational, literary, artistic and innovation works, concepts and ideas.

Current BNest Incubator participant, Catherine O’Brien set up an online platform for parents of children with special needs called ‘ODODO’, and says that working with BNest has, “Helped improve my original concept as it enabled me to take it apart, and build it right back up.” Evelyn Pepperrell of ADD/ADHD Midwest Support Group who completed the programme last year said, “The programme has given our group massive confidence in putting our message forward. The ongoing support for our project has continued to be invaluable as you have on the spot follow up if issues arise.”

Receiving their certificate of achievement at the BNest, ‘Fulfil Your Dream’ showcase event at the Nexus Innovation Centre in UL, was Suzanne Roche and Karen Keane, Limericks Gateway To Education, with Eamon Ryan, Kasia Binska, and Gert O’Rourke, Nexus centre UL, who will also be in attendance at the BNest Showcase 2018.

The Limerick Gateway to Education were also involved with the BNest Incubator last year. Founder, Suzanne Roche said, “I took part in the BNest Incubator programme last year, and its content and ongoing support for our project has continued to be invaluable. When I started the project in 2012, I was very much on my own, it’s a fantastic programme as you have on the spot follow up, if issues arise. A great programme to get involved in, if you’re a start-up.”

BNest extends a friendly welcome to the BNest Showcase 2018 on:

Tuesday, March 13
from 3.30pm to 5.30pm
at the Nexus Innovation Centre, Tierney Building, University of Limerick.

All are welcome and admission is free but registration is essential.