Could a social economy business help sustain your group? That is the question women from Belfast considered at the event organised by the Women's Centres Regional Partnership in St Luke's Hall on Tuesday, 29th March.
As the austerity cuts in funding continue to be implemented, starting and running a social enterprise business could prove valuable to ensure that vital services continue.
Margaret Ward, Chair, Women's Centres Regional Partnership (WCRP) comments,
A number of successful social economy businesses are already up and running in Belfast and at the conference, some of these groups explained their reasons for setting up, why they chose a social economy business model and the challenges faced and benefits for the local community.
Helen Crickard spoke at the event on the value of non-traditional skills training for women, commenting, "In a recent Equality Commission Report 74% of women in NI cited a lack of confidence in engaging with the construction industry. WOMEN'STEC is the only non-traditional skills training social economy in Northern Ireland. We work in partnership with other organisations to ensure there are work placements for women and that women can develop the necessary skills and qualifications to compete effectively in the marketplace."
Betty Carlisle, MBE, Shankill Women's Centre, comments, "We're delighted the WCRP social economy event showcased our new social economy building 'Small Wonders II' located between the peace line, and set up to provide a neutral base for childcare and educational services. The previously derelict building, funded by the EU Peace III Programme, will soon provide local employment and services for North and West Belfast."
Anne Graham, Director of Social Economy Network, offered support to new ventures, "Successful social economy organisations have a unique contribution to make to the Northern Ireland economy in regenerating disadvantaged communities and areas. Many people have good business ideas but lack confidence or know-how. People may be put off by the current uncertain economic climate, but new businesses can thrive even when economic conditions are tough."