Inspiring
Lasting Impact.

Social Enterprise NI is the representative body for social enterprises and social entrepreneurs across Northern Ireland.

Who are we?

We are the official membership body for social enterprises in Northern Ireland.

We exist to strengthen the social enterprise sector in Northern Ireland and support businesses at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. For over 11 years, we have represented local social enterprises and worked together to build a stronger collective voice and grow the social enterprise movement.

Our Mission

We at Social Enterprise Northern Ireland are dedicated to the mission of connecting, supporting, and empowering dynamic social enterprises that drive positive change. Our primary goal is to assist these businesses in generating profit with purpose, inspire lasting impact and create a more inclusive and sustainable society.

Our Vision

Our vision for Northern Ireland is one where social enterprises take centre stage and are acknowledged for their significant contribution to both society and the economy. We are deeply committed to nurturing a thriving sector by cultivating its growth, raising its profile locally and internationally, promoting collaboration and strengthening its capacity to succeed.

Our Values

Change Makers

Industry Pioneers

Change Makers

Empowering Collaboration

We create a space in which all players, irrespective of size or experience, have their voice heard and can learn from one another. We also provide opportunities for collaboration between social enterprises and the public and private sectors.

Profit with Purpose

Our activities support all levels, from start-ups and community groups at the beginning of their social enterprise journey, to more experienced social enterprises. Together, we aspire to achieve an environment where society profits and social enterprises excel at addressing and meeting community needs.

Our Team

Colin Jess

Chief Executive

Since joining the organisation in 2016, Colin has been at the forefront of increasing the awareness of the social business model and has increased membership numbers of not only social enterprises but also those organisations from private and public sector.

Colin has an extensive network across public, private, and educational bodies as well as good relationships with government departments and politicians, presenting to Assembly Committees and also as Secretariat of the All Party Group on Social Enterprise.

Colin was appointed by the former Minister of Finance in December 2020 as an external advisor to the Procurement Board and seeks to promote the inclusion of social value in procurement at every opportunity.

Outside of work Colin enjoys time with the family and is also Chairman of Glentoran Football Club.

Amanda Johnston

Head of business development

Amanda carries out the role of Head of Business Development. She has been an integral part of the team at Social Enterprise NI (SENI) from the inception of the organisation in 2012 and remains to this day, the only original member of staff. Amanda’s knowledge of the sector is invaluable, she has worked in the sector her entire career to date.  She eats, sleeps, breathes all things Social Enterprise. Amanda holds a BSc Hons in Business Development and Finance.  She leads on Membership Development both for the social enterprise sector and our strategic social value partners.  She also leads on Financial Management within the organisation and income generation for the long term sustainability of the organisation. Amanda is also a qualified social return on investment practitioner.

Michelle Cassidy

HEAD OF MARKETING

Michelle has previously held marketing roles at Q Radio, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and PR agency, Rumour Mill PR. Clients included Foyleside Shopping Centre, The Gobbins and Belfast City Council. Michelle oversaw the PR and digital marketing strategy to launch The Gobbins tourist attraction in Northern Ireland and held the marketing tourism tender for Lisburn City Centre for two years.

Catherine Burns

HEAD OF EVENTS & COMMS

Catherine has a wealth of experience in business management, administration, comms and event planning across several industries, including retail, creative, and fitness. She holds a BA Hons in Fashion & Textile Design from the University of Ulster and has extensive experience working with the public, community groups and local government. Having developed and managed her own fitness business.

SENI Ambassador

Cate Conway

Ambassador

Cate Conway is a radio presenter and brand ambassador for Social Enterprise Northern Ireland. Her role involves hosting our annual sector awards and the #WISE Podcast to share the stories and impact tales of those organisations doing amazing things.

An excellent host that lights up the room when she’s there and a true advocate of social enterprise.

Board Members

John McMullan
(Chairman)

A multi-award winning CEO, John headed up UK’s largest Social Enterprise, Bryson Group for many years. He has an excellent track record of developing and delivering solutions to a range of social and housing related challenges.

John holds various board roles at; Social Enterprise Northern Ireland, the Housing Executive, Drumlin Wind Co-op; WorkWest community enterprise agency, Advisory Group Member British Council and a community based Credit Union.

John is a Life Fellow of RSA, former Northern Ireland and UK Social Enterprise Leader of the Year in 2011, a distinguished graduate of Ulster University and was made a Companion of the Chartered Institute of Management in 2016. He also received an MBE in the 1998 Birthday Honours List and an OBE in 2011.

Chara Clarke

Chara Clarke is Partnership & Development Officer for the Hourglass Charity. Hourglass are the only UK charity calling time on the abuse, harm and exploitation of older people. Through her role, she works to raise awareness about the abuse of older people and to promote Hourglass services.

Chara is passionate about equipping the local community with knowledge to empower them to make positive change through charity & Social Enterprise work.

David Hunter

Former CEO of Access Employment Limited (AEL) for 11 years, David developed 5 new social enterprise businesses in parallel with a number of training programmes and targeted interventions to assist adults and young people with disability into employment.

During his role, employment within the organisation increased from 13 to 52 and income increased from £272k to over £1.3million with some 70% being self-generated income.

David is a strategic leader with extensive expertise in developing and implementing long term organisational/business strategies within both the private and social sectors. He consults for DFC to support local economic recovery in Northern Ireland.

Roy Bell

With over 25 years’ experience working in senior public sector roles, Roy has undertaken strategic public sector peer reviews within a number of EU jurisdictions including supporting the Greek Department of Health with a strategic review and restructuring of their procurement and supply-chain arrangements.

As a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply he has supported the World & Asian Development Banks in a number of projects in African countries, Bhutan, Grand Cayman Island. Roy has also held various board roles within local organisations.

Dave Linton

Dave is an innovator, social entrepreneur, motivational speaker and founder of multi- award-winning Madlug C.I.C which achieved B-Corp certification in 2022. He is extremely passionate about using Madlug to influence a new young generation of social entrepreneurs.

Jenny Irvine

Jenny Irvine is a Registered Nurse, an experienced social entrepreneur, and Chief Executive Officer of ITEC.

Her role involves leading economic and social companies delivering a broad range of initiatives that actively address rural regeneration, health inequality encouraging a very strong element of user participation in the planning, development, and delivery of service. Jenny was recognised with a UK Social Enterprise fellowship in 2021 and named as a pioneer of the Nation by the Queen.

Inspiring
Lasting Impact.

Social Enterprise NI is the representative body for social enterprises and social entrepreneurs across Northern Ireland.

What is a
social enterprise?

​​A Social Enterprise is a trading business selling goods and services to achieve a social or environmental goal. Social enterprises operate to transform lives, improve local communities, reduce economic inequality, social justice and enhance environmental sustainability.

They are different from those charities and voluntary organisations who do not have financial independence through trading income*

A social enterprise trades for profit like a business

Profits are used to finance their social objectives

A social objective is helping others

The whole community benefits

Want to know more?

Get more in depth advice and information from our factsheets

1

What is a social enterprise?

Read More 

2

Starting up as a Social Enterprise in NI

Read More 

3

Governance & Legal Structures for SE

Read More 

4

Financial Management Basics

Read More 

5

Social Media Marketing and General Marketing

Read More 

6

Social Impact – Why measure?

Read More 

7

What is Social Value?

Read More 

4

Financial Management Basics

Read More 

Profit with Purpose

A social enterprise is like any other business; it exists to make a profit. The only difference is that they are driven by social and environmental purposes and any profit is reinvested to achieve their social mission.

Benefiting the community

Social Enterprises range from small to large businesses, from cafes, adventure facilities, credit Unions, cooperatives, community-owned enterprises and trading arms of charities to list just a few. Social Enterprises operate in almost every industry in the UK, from health and social care to renewable energy, from retail to recycling, from employment to sport, from housing to education.

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