Social Enterprise

Work West is recognised as a market leader in the field of social enterprise. Since 1999 the agency has been involved in delivering over 18 social economy support initiatives including Social Economy Belfast, Social Economy Lisburn, Invest Northern Ireland’s Social Entrepreneurship Programme throughout the Eastern Region, Invest Northern Ireland’s Enterprising Communities and more recently Belfast City Council’s Pre Enterprise Social Economy Development Programme.

We deliver a range of support for Social Enterprises from ideas development and legal structure advice at pre start stage through to business planning for new starts and strategic development for growing sectors.

In addition, comprehensive, tailor made training materials have been developed for the sector by Work West, which could be adapted for use with private businesses on generic topics such as financial management and strategic review.

Social Entrepreneurship Programme

If you are thinking about setting up a social enterprise or growing an existing social enterprise, the Social Entrepreneurship Programme may be able to assist you.

The concept of the Social Entrepreneurship Programme is firmly founded on a commercial business model. Focus will be placed on maximising economic impact and business growth after start up and those businesses which are capable of making a significant economic impact.

The two elements of the programme funded by Invest NI are all aimed at the promotion of sustainable models of business and provide capability support to allow organisations to set up and develop businesses with the potential of start up, growth or export development.

Lead in Development – Advice for groups without a clearly identified business start up idea or who need help to refine their idea.

Core Capability Support – A package of assistance to help groups develop their business plan, the potential for financial assistance towards start-up costs, start up capability advice and aftercare during the first year of trading.

For more information contact Claire Ferris on (028) 90 610826 or email

Social Impact Tracker

Social Impact Tracker is a secure online database that reports outputs, outcomes and your social impact. In an increasingly difficult operating environment, the demands on the groups to communicate their social value have become more important than ever. Social Impact Tracker is easy to use, affordable and has ‘everything in one place’.

Social Impact Tracker is ideally placed to improve monitoring and evaluation in the sector, and help organisations of all sizes start measuring the social impact they are having.

Work West are delighted to be Distribution Partner to help Cúnamh ICT deliver and support Social Impact Tracker to organisations across the sector. Our common aim is to get as many organisations as possible measuring their social impact.

For more information contact Claire Ferris on (028) 90 610826 or email

Trade Social

Trade Social aims to promote opportunities for social enterprises to do more business – by selling to each other, selling to the public and private sectors, and selling to the general public. This online trade directory is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. Entries in the Directory are free to social enterprises set up and trading in Northern Ireland.

The Social Enterprise Trade Directory has been developed by Work West in partnership with the Social Economy Network, the representative body for the social economy sector in Northern Ireland.

Trade Social can be found at

For more information contact Work West (028) 90 610826

“Work West have been invaluable regarding the dreaming, planning and development of Doodlebugs Creative Workshops. They have held our hand and cheered us on as we battled the mine field of enterprise. We heart Work West!”Doodlebugs CIC


Exploring Enterprise 2 Programme

Are you interested in learning more about running a business?
Are you currently unemployed or working less than 16 hours per week?
Are you aged 16 and above?

We are now accepting applications for the Exploring Enterprise 2 Programme.

The Exploring Enterprise 2 Programme is aimed at people who are thinking about starting their own business or who are keen to expand their skills and move back into employment.

The Exploring Enterprise Programme:
• Is a FREE programme which aims to help local people into sustainable employment or self-employment
• A short 8 day programme that will provide you with the skills and knowledge to start a business and improve your CV
• Offers mentoring and training at a pace tailored to you
• Achieve a recognised qualification in Business Enterprise

What’s involved on the programme?
• Pre-assessment meeting
• Group training sessions
• Small group sessions combined with specific one-to-one mentoring
• Post assessment and moving forward

Click here to read about the successes of previous participants of the Exploring Enterprise Programme

For further information or to register your interest in participating on the programme contact Meike White by phone on (028) 9061 0826 or email

The Exploring Enterprise 2 Programme is part funded by Enterprise NI.

High Growth Pre Enterprise Programme

Calling all aspiring entrepreneurs! Do you have a business idea? Is it time to put your idea to the test?

Belfast City Council, supported by Work West and Ortus, is launching an exciting new programme to help aspiring entrepreneurs to explore business ideas with high-growth potential and to get started.

We are looking for 15 enthusiastic, committed people who will make great entrepreneurs. With our support you will have access to the creative skills and expertise vital to setting up and building a sustainable business as well as providing specialist help in areas such as product development, finance, sales and marketing.

The programme will include a range of activities to help generate high growth business ideas in a supportive environment:
• Business Challenge Session – get your creative juices flowing! This session will help identify and develop your entrepreneurial.
• Masterclasses – will help you explore your business potential, showcase some of Belfast’s most inspiring entrepreneurs and give you the knowledge and skills to move forward.
• One-to-one mentoring support – to develop your business plan and to provide specific and tailored support in areas such as intellectual property, legal, market research and finance.
• Tailored support – £500 of tailored support to aid the development of your business product or service.

For more information or an application form contact Claire Ferris on (028) 90610826 or email

Starting your own business through STEPS TO WORK

If you are currently unemployed and interested in starting your own business, then you may be eligible for Steps to Work. You must contact your Jobs and Benefits Office regarding your eligibility and to gain a referral onto the programme.

Your Route to Self-Employment through STEPS TO WORK will take you through three phases:

Phase 1
The basic awareness session will usually last one half day. This is to ensure that participants do not have unrealistic expectations about their ability to succeed in self-employment.

Phase 2
Attendance at the Enterprise Development Programme will involve attendance at a half day workshop, where you will receive support, mentoring and help to develop a business plan.

Phase 3
A period of test trading for up to 26 weeks, with the support and guidance of Work West. While test trading, those on JSA will receive a Benefit Based Training Allowance (equal to their rate of JSA) plus a weekly top-up. Income Support or Incapacity Benefit claimants will retain entitlement to any benefit in payment plus a weekly training premium. You may of course leave test trading at any time during this process to set up your own business or take a job.
For more information contact Majella Barkley on (028) 90 610826 or email