09 Aug 2022

Creative Spark Downtown Dundalk to host Champion Changemakers event

‘Dragon’s Den’ type events will take place over the weekend of 23 September

Creative Spark Downtown Dundalk to host Champion Changemakers event

Creative Spark Downtown Dundalk to host Champion Changemakers event

The Community Enterprise Association Ireland (CEAI) is seeking entrants Louth, who have an idea that they think would help combat social or environmental challenges in their local community, for a "Dragon's Den" type event this September,  with selected teams going forward to a national Pitch-Fest in Dublin on 20 October.

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.  

Creative Spark Downtown Dundalk is to host the event over the weekend of 23 September, aimed at bringing the local community together to solve real world, everyday societal or economic challenges in ways that will positively impact our ever-changing world. 

Visit Community Enterprise Association Ireland’s website here to find out details on how to sign-up. The purpose of the event 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

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 Ireland by 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

During the weekend, ideas generated and agreed on as offering opportunities to be transformed into viable products or services will be concept-tested, validated and developed out for commercial suitability, possibly even leading to the setting up of sustainable non-profit business. 

Individuals, community organisations, networks or special interest groups are all encouraged to take part. There is no charge for participating. Anybody interested will be given the opportunity to work with local mentors to develop their idea and help prepare them to present and pitch it to a panel of experts.

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.

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. 

Ciara Breen, Manager, Creative Spark Downtown Dundalk said:

“Dundalk is a large urban town with a great sense of community activism and creative thinkers. With the current economic and social challenges, we’re facing locally and globally we are really excited to see what ideas will spring from the Champion Changemakers weekend at Creative Spark Downtown Hub. One of the key motivations around the opening of Creative Spark Downtown Hub was to support the regeneration of Dundalk Town Centre, so it feels fitting to hold a social innovation “hackathon” in our hub”.

Siobhan Finn, Hub Network Manager at Community Enterprise Association Ireland, said: 

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

"The CEAI is grateful to receive this funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development under the 2021 Arise Scheme enabling us to run this initiative. 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.”


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