BNest hatches showcase for entrepreneurs at University of Limerick

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Email:

nick@limerickleader.ie

BNest hatches showcase for entrepreneurs at University of Limerick

At the BNest showcase were Richard Lynch, Suzanne Roche, Kasia Zabinska, Eamon Ryan, Michaela Donegan and Eamon Ryan | PICTURE: Ciara Maria Hayes

BNest, the first dedicated social enterprise incubator, based in the University of Limerick, have held an event to highlight the work done by its client companies.

BNest, based at the Nexus Innovation Centre at the University of Limerick’s Kemmy Business School, caters exclusively for business people who own and run firms which have a social impact.

Since September 2016, BNest has been running a six-month programme in which emerging social enterprises learn how to get their new organisations off to the best start by focusing on key areas related to developing their enterprises, in terms of business, social and personal aspects.

Eamon Ryan who founded and self-funded BNest said: “We are the first fully fledged social incubator in Ireland, and the idea was to create a peer group which shared experiences that could help one another.

BNest has been given a home by the University of Limerick, where participants have access to the full facilities of the Nexus Innovation Centre.

“The venture is being philanthropically funded for three years at a cost of about €20,000 per programme, while participation is free for the enterprises selected.

“Last year, nine enterprises completed the programme, and this year another eight enterprises took part.”

At the showcase, the graduates Nest Showcase 2018, participants showcased their enterprises, which are achieving real social impact across the region.

In addition to the display booths a short informal presentation was made by each enterprise including Limerick Autism Group, a support service for autistic children, their parents and siblings and Visual Limerick.

This is a project to help showcase the positive attributes of Limerick by utilising shop windows and promoting Limerick’s educational, literary, artistic and innovation works, concepts and ideas.

Current BNest participant, Catherine O’Brien set up an online platform for parents of children with special needs called ‘Ododo’.

She says working with BNest has helped her improve her original concept.

“It enabled me to take it apart and rebuild it back up,” she explained.

Evelyn Pepperrell of the ADD/ADHD Mid-West Support Group who completed the programme last year added: “The programme has given our group massive confidence in putting our message forward.

“The ongoing support for our project has continued to be invaluable as you have on the spot follow up if issues arise.”