The Northern Ireland government should launch a programme to identify charities that could become social enterprises and support them to do so, a report by the financial services company PwC has recommended.
The report, A Survey of Northern Ireland’s Third Sector and its Potential to Become More Enterprise Driven, was commissioned by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland. It examines the size of the social enterprise economy, ways to grow social enterprises and how community and voluntary organisations can be encouraged to become social enterprises.
"DSD should establish a pilot programme to identify and target community and voluntary organisations with the potential to transition to social enterprises," the report says. "This pilot programme should include a needs assessment, organisational review and skills assessment to discover if the organisation has the capacity and capability to become a social enterprise."
PwC studied 3,821 organisations, of which 88 per cent were community and voluntary organisations and 12 per cent were social enterprises. It reports that 77 per cent of social enterprises plan to expand but two-thirds of community and voluntary organisations do not. It says the main barriers to expansion are lack of finance, trouble finding the right people and a lack of awareness of the available support.
The report contains 10 recommendations to expand the social enterprise sector, including an investment-readiness fund for the sector, a single online portal bringing together information provided by government and third sector sources, and a push to tackle barriers to procurement for social enterprises.