18 October 2020
By Bryan Smyth
Two Cork social entrepreneurs – Toufik Messabih and Caitriona Nic Mhuiris – were honoured for their innovative and visionary response to the Covid-19 pandemic at a special online event hosted on the 14th by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) – the SEI Gathering 2020.
Mr Messabih, based in Carrigaline, is the founder of Lib. Lib provides free, culturally sensitive counselling to Asylum seekers and refugees across Ireland. Lib responded to the pandemic by facilitating email, video chat and phone counselling sessions.
Ms Nic Mhuiris from Cork city is the founder of Kinship Care Ireland, an organisation that offers supports, information and advocacy to kinship families and their communities. Kinship care is the full-time parenting of children by relatives or family friends. Since March, Kinship Care Ireland has adapted its supports to bring them online while continuing to advocate for kinship carers at government level.
Commenting, Mr Messabih said:
“I’m grateful to have had the chance to speak at the SEI Gathering. With national and international audiences attending online, it was an amazing opportunity to highlight the challenges experienced by asylum seekers/refugees and Lib’s mission to support all those individuals in reigniting hope, resilience, and healing.”
Ms Nic Mhuiris said: “Support from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland enabled me to take the first steps in developing support for kinship families and setting up Kinship Care Ireland. The training and the mentoring gave me the confidence to act on my idea and the encouragement to keep going. Without the practical and financial support there is no doubt that we would be where we are today. It was wonderful to be able to share some of our story at the SEI Gathering event.”
At the event CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, Darren Ryan highlighted that social entrepreneurs have played a key role in responding to the Covid-19 crisis and will be needed more than ever as we rebuild our society.
According to Mr Ryan: “The pandemic has shone a light on the communities that remain most vulnerable and isolated at this time and reminded us about what matters most. It has also shown that individuals around Ireland are willing and ready to step up and act.
“Social entrepreneurs are society’s problem solvers. They are ordinary people who develop new, innovative ideas to address the social challenges we face and work tirelessly to put them into action. We have already seen examples of this in recent months, as people around the country have developed innovative ways to care for people, combat isolation, and keep our society going through the crisis. We will need a lot more of this as we respond to the evolving situation and continue to tackle the existing social issues. Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is proud to be supporting more social entrepreneurs than ever before in 2020, and we are committed to growing our support and impact in the coming years.”
Since its foundation in 2004, SEI has supported 374 social entrepreneurs across the country. This year, SEI saw a record number of 245 applications to its programmes. Mr Messabih was one of 60 organisations to secure a place on SEI’s Idea Academy programme while Ms Nic Mhuiris is a participant on SEI’s Action Lab programme.
Commenting, Chief Executive of DCC plc, Donal Murphy said: “Over the past 10 years of proudly working closely with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, DCC plc has seen first-hand the incredible power of supporting people with ideas to change Ireland. This year has brought unprecedented challenges for the world, but we take heart that there are so many social entrepreneurs out there who are willing to roll up their sleeves and face these issues head on with courage and ingenuity. We are delighted to play our part in supporting them.”
SEI will launch a national call for applications to its programmes in early 2021. Find out more at socialentrepreneurs.ie