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Celebration as Green Sod Land Trust makes the Finals

Sheila Gallagher, representing Green Sod Land Trust, is one of eight finalists selected by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland to take part in the Finalists Programme. Sheila and Green Sod Land Trust will receive funding and support for a period of three months, during which the organisation’s activities, work, and impact will be assessed by SEI before the overall winners are announced in October.

The Social Impact Programme aims to fund and support individuals and organisations that are attempting to address the social and environmental challenges that we face in Ireland today, with enthusiasm and innovation. Three overall winners will share a prize fund of €650,000. The flagship sponsor for these awards is DCC plc, Dublin, a sales, marketing, distribution and business support service group. They provide critical funding and support for Social Entrepreneurs Ireland alongside other funders and supporters.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, established in 2004, is a privately funded not-for-profit organisation which believes that innovation and social change in Ireland will be driven by exceptional people with exceptional ideas. They have developed a support model that helps these social entrepreneurs grow their ideas from concept to reality and have invested over €3.7 million in 142 social entrepreneurs to date.

The competition for this year’s programme was very tough and as CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Sean Coughlan points out “It is a testament to the growth of social entrepreneurship in Ireland that we have seen such high standards of applicants to the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards year on year.”

Two hundred social entrepreneurs entered the competition at the beginning of this year and Sheila has survived a number of stages of the competition to get to the final. Forty two applicants were selected to take part in an SEI Boot Camp which saw the competitors pitching their ideas for social change to the judges, including members of RTE’s Dragon’s Den. Eighteen entrepreneurs then went on to the next stage which involved in-depth hour-long interviews. The Green Sod Land Trust director will now embark on a three-month ‘finalist’s programme’, where she will receive funding and support to assess and develop the land trust prior to final selection of the 2011 winners in October.

Reaching the final of the Social Impact Programme is an immense achievement and honour for the trust. “With the backing of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, Green Sod Land Trust will impact in a way that can make a real difference to protecting and conserving land across the island of Ireland. Preventing more biodiversity loss and repairing the damage that has already been done is a phenomenal challenge. To address this urgent challenge is the responsibility for our generation, not the next” says Sheila. “What we need now is more people coming on board: volunteers, members, people lending their expertise, etc., to move the trust forward now that we have this great opportunity.”

Picnic on Clare Island

Finalists at the SEI residential in Mayo last week were (clockwise from left): Sheila Gallagher, Green Sod Land Trust; Michelle O Donnell-Keating, Women for Election; Frances Black, Rise Foundation, 2010 SEI winner; John Lawlor, Bridge 21, 2010 SEI winner; Niamh Gallagher, Women for Election; Analisa O’Carroll, SEI; Darren Ryan, SEI; Lisa Domican, Grace App; Sean Coughlan, Chief Executive Officer SEI; Krystian Fikert, MyMind.

Other finalists: Sean Love, Fighting Words; Michael Kelly, GIY Ireland; Joan Freeman, Pieta House; Steven Daly, Camara Ireland