Job Creation Opportunities Launched Across NI Next Week

Ortus, the business development agency, is looking for 10 social enterprises to develop their businesses into a franchise, and 20 community and voluntary or social enterprises interested in a franchisee arrangement to start up new social economy businesses as part of The Social Franchising Programme.

The programme forms part of Invest NorthernIreland’s Jobs Fund and aims to create 285 new jobs acrossNorthern Ireland.  It has been designed to help community, voluntary and social economy sector organisations defy the current economic downturn.

Applications are open now with information seminars planned for Enniskillen, Omagh, Lisburn, Derry/Londonderry, Armagh, Banbridge and Newry starting on 20th February.  Exact details can be found on

Funding advice and capability support will be made available to those organisations selected for the new initiative with a package of intensive business support including one-to-one mentoring and an individual implementation plan for each of the organisations.

Seamus O’Prey, Chief Executive at Ortus, explains that Social Franchising is a relatively new concept which has been specifically targeted at community, voluntary and social economy sector organisations that want to consider social franchising as a method of ensuring their continued sustainability in a climate where funding is becoming limited.

“Recent Research shows that there are a number of reasons why community, voluntary and social economy sector organisations look to the franchising model to secure their futures including diversifying and increasing income while remaining embedded in local communities, fostering partnership working and spreading the broader message of the social enterprise movement.

“This is a very real opportunity, and one indigenous social enterprise currently blazing a franchising trail is Derry/Londonderry based database solutions firm, Cúnamh ICT. They have used the social franchising model to licence out their core product, Social Impact Tracker, a secure online database that reports outputs and outcomes, and measures the social impact of community, voluntary and social economy sector organisations,” said Seamus.

Cúnamh ICT’s Managing Director, Peter MacCafferty created partnerships with 7 other community, voluntary and social economy sector organisations in 2011 to license their Social Impact Tracker online to distributors to sell and support the product with new and existing clients.

“This Social Franchising approach is a sensible and commercially worthwhile approach for everyone involved. It has secured a sustainable future for our partnership and we would recommend it to other community, voluntary and social economy sector organisations.

“To date we have directly created 1 full time position but in order to meet our projected targets we estimate the recruitment of another 3 full time staff for product development and support. 

 “From the partners point of view we have set a target of at least 80 licence sales per year. However, to get these sorts of numbers of sales the partners will need extra staff dedicated to this task. We estimate each partner will require at least 2 full time members of staff. We plan to grow our partnership to 15 therefore the model has the potential to create up to 33 new jobs,” concludes Peter.

According to Seamus O’Prey, if this success was replicated by the number of community, voluntary and social economy sector organisations targeted, it would provide a real boost to local towns and villages all overNorthern Ireland.

Bill Scott, Invest NI’s Director of Regional Economic Development, said: “Social enterprises play a significant role in the regeneration of areas of high social need, by generating sources of income, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship and helping to create sustainable and cohesive communities.

“This programme will offer social enterprises that are already successful the chance to grow, as well as giving new social entrepreneurs the chance to set up a business that will quickly begin to generate profits, social benefits and aid sustainability.  I would encourageNorthern Ireland’s community, voluntary and social economy organisations to consider how this Social Franchising Programme could benefit their area.”

Anyone wanting to register can do so by contacting James Scott, Social Franchising Programme, Ortus 028 90 311002 or email: