Presentation of awards for Innovative Social Enterprise Training Programme

An innovative training programme for social enter-prises focusing on corporate governance culminated recently in an awards ceremony. Ms Catherine Smyth, Community Development Manager, Ballyhoura Development, was MC for the occasion and welcomed all the course participants and stakeholders to the Awards Ceremony which took place at the newly refurbished Lough Gur Heritage Centre. She drew attention to the wealth of social enterprises working in the Ballyhoura area and commended them not only for their commit-ment to the Corporate Gov-ernance Training Pro-gramme but also for their commitment and contribu-tion to the economic development of the area.

The evening began with a presentation by Mr Michael McGagh, Communities Creating Jobs (CCJ). CCJ is a movement of people throughout Ireland who wish to do something postiive and innovative on a voluntary basis to address the twin issues of unem-ployment and involuntary emigration. CCJ focuses on community resources and the harnessing of com-munity energy and aims to facilitate the creation of small-scale employment opportunities in cities, towns and villages through-out Ireland.

Ms Carmel Fox, CEO, Ballyhoura Development, outlined the process through which the course was developed. In working with and supporting social enterprises throughout the area, it was clear that many of them had the ability to operate the business but that the staff and Directors required supports in the area of Corporate Govern-ance. In consultation with social enterprises, a pilot Corporate Governance training programme for social enterprises was developed focussing on the following areas; Estab-lishing a Social Enterprise, Corporate Governance, Financial Planning and Management, Human Resources Management, Strategy Development and Business Planning and Directing a Social Enter-prise. The main objective of the training programme was to ensure the sustain-able development of social enterprises within the area and to support them to comply with the new Governance Code.

Following a tendering process, the Carmichael Centre was selected to deliver the training pro-gramme. On the night, Mr Derek O’Reilly, Training and Communications Manager, Carmichael Centre, outlined that the Carmichael Centre enjoyed being involved in such an innovative course and acknowledged the strong buy-in from the course participants. Derek also acknowledged the trainers, including Ms Caroline Egan who had stated that “Delivering corporate governance training to social enterprises in the Ballyhoura Region was both stimulating and enjoyable. Training parti-cipants thoroughly engaged with the programme, as they are actively working to build strong, sustainable, community centred organ-isations. The future looks bright for social enterprise development in Ballyhoura!”

Dr Tony Crooks, Chair IMCV, spoke of the impor-tance of continuing professional development within the community and voluntary sector due to the changing nature of the sector and the increasing importance of strong corporate governance. Dr Crooks paid tribute to the course participants and wished them well in the ongoing development of their enterprises.

The next phase was for Mr John Walsh, Chairperson, Ballyhoura Development and Dr Tony Crooks, IMCV to present the certi-ficates to the course parti-cipants. In total, 24 people representing 11 social enterprises took part in the programme; they included staff and directors of social enterprises with different directors attending depending on the subject matter. Six of the course participants also completed portfolio work in order to achieve credits towards the Institute for Managers of Community and Voluntary Organisations’ (IMCV) Professional Manager Pro-gramme. The overall feedback from the course was very positive with significant learning, as evidenced by the following quotes:

“Effective manage-ment and understanding of governance issues sur-rounds all organisations. This course provided a balance on all issues from HR to Finance to Business Planning and Development. The course overall was delivered by knowledgeable and expert tutors and enhanced with open and frank discussions from fellow participants.” -participant Ms Elaine Butler, Manager, Croom Community Development Association.

“Our business now employs over 250. It can be difficult for the Management and Boards of Social Enterprises to focus on Corporate Governance issues and for some, there is a lack of understanding of how Corporate Governance relates to the Social Enter-prise Sector. The course provided us with an oppor-tunity to learn about the key governance issues with similar groups and to see how these issues apply to us.” -participant Ms Colette Ryan, General Manager, CareBright

The final task on the night was to elect a representative from the Social Enterprise Advisory Council to the Board of Ballyhoura Devel-opment. Ms Elaine Butler, Croom Community Devel-opment Association, was elected. Mr John Walsh closed the proceedings by thanking the Carmichael Centre and IMCV for the delivery of the course. John also thanked Kate Harrold, Manager, Lough Gur Heritage Centre and all involved in Lough Gur Co-operative Society for hosting the awards cere-mony in such a fantastic facility and for hosting the course in the Honey Fitz. In conclusion, John thanked the course participants for their “buy” into the course and wished them well in the future growth and develop-ment of their social enterprises.