Wexford Enterprise Association (WEA) Launches their Stakeholders’ Report 2019 -2020

Wexford Enterprise Association (WEA) today launched their Stakeholders’ Report highlighting the progress and challenges faced by the organisation during 2019 and 2020.

Wexford Enterprise Association (WEA), an independent, not-for-profit organisation, was formed in 1986 by a voluntary committee of local community, diocesan and business leaders against the backdrop of the dire economic climate of the 80s.

WEA currently employs 30 members of staff within its Social Enterprise divisions of Wexford Enterprise Centre (WEC), one of Ireland’s first and largest Enterprise Centres, Datagroup, a national supplier of document management services, and Recycling 2000, manufacturers of animal bedding products made from old newspaper which diverts hundreds of tons of wastepaper from entering landfill each year.

These social enterprises not only create direct employment opportunities, but they also help to provide the necessary revenue streams required to partially fund Wexford based social advancement initiatives such as youth mental health and disability employment opportunities. Funding is also generated within their social enterprises to support entrepreneurial development initiatives like the Student Enterprise Awards programme and the TradeBridge Initiative. TradeBridge is an international trade and export initiative linking Wexford Companies with customers in Savannah, Georgia. It is operated in association with Wexford County Council, Enterprise Ireland, Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA), the World Trade Center Savannah, and Georgia Southern University.

The key highlights of the report include:

Wexford Enterprise Association (WEA):
• Creating social enterprises to generate social and entrepreneurial change.
• Has created 2000 jobs across 200 companies since it began.
• More than 80% of its income is self-generated.
• €1.2m per annum of expenditure into the local economy.
Social Enterprise
• Wexford Enterprise Centre (WEC) – Resident Companies contribute €10m per annum to the local economy each year.
• Datagroup – set up in 2010 to create employment opportunities for those combating disability, social exclusion and marginalisation.
o Employed an average of 23 people in 2019 and 2020
o 50% of employees have a physical disability.
o 11 years highest level ISO security standards certification.
o 100m pages of information managed.
o 400 local, national and international clients.
• Recycling 2000 – Produces high-quality, environmentally friendly animal bedding product from recycled newspaper. Set up in 1993 to create direct employment and to improve our local environment.

Environmental Impact
• In each year of 2019 and 2020, Datagroup and Recycling 2000 combined, diverted 700 tonnes of paper from our landfills. This resulted in the saving of:
o 11,900 trees
o 4.9m gallons of water
o 266,000 gal of oil
o 2.8m kw of energy
o 2,100 cm less in our landfills

Social Advancement
• Youth Mental Health Programme – Partnered with Ferns Diocesan Youth Service (FDYS) to help fund Youth Mental Health Programme.
o Funding allowed quicker access for 112 youth people in Co. Wexford to professional counselling services through enhanced assessment capabilities. Hundreds more young people were then supported through other youth service programmes. Participants were aged between 10-24 years old. 69% female and 31% male.
• Disability Employment Opportunities – WorkAbility initiative launched in 2019. Partnering with Employability Wexford, this programme gives Resident Companies in Wexford Enterprise Centre incentives and supports to employ people with disability.
o 19% of WEC Resident Companies participate in this initiative.
o 50% of Datagroup employees have a physical disability.

Entrepreneurial Development
• Student Enterprise Awards – co-founded in 1994 with Wexford County Enterprise Board, (formally Wexford Local Enterprise Office) who successfully manage this programme today in association with Wexford Enterprise Centre.
o In the academic year of 2019/2020 1,155 students created 480 mini-companies in 18 schools in Co. Wexford.
• TradeBridge – an international trade initiative linking Savannah, Georgia
o 35 companies from Wexford and the Southeast engaged with the TradeBridge pilot programme, representing the Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, Agritech, Education and Information, Communications & Technology (ICT) sectors.
o 100+ business to business meetings.
o Received confirmation of three-year funding from Enterprise Ireland to develop the international trade programme into a Regional Development Programme expanding throughout the Southeast of Ireland.

Chairman of Wexford Enterprise Association, Éamonn Murphy said, “Our journey has presented many challenges along the way. 2019 was particularly difficult and brought several new challenges which were not of our making. During 2020, Covid-19 tested us in ways we never thought possible. But adversity forces new thinking, change, and a determination to succeed. With guidance from our dedicated voluntary Board, our Chief Executive Brendan Ennis and his team, we embraced change, developed new strategies, and delivered for those we serve, while remaining true to our core values of integrity, inclusiveness, and innovation.”

Dr David Dempsey, co-founder of Salesforce Europe and member of the Wexford Enterprise Association Board, officially launched the Stakeholder’s Report. David hails from Wexford and is Country Leader and General Manager at Salesforce Ireland. Additionally, David is Salesforce’s Senior Vice President for EMEA Corporate Relations and sits on the Salesforce European Leadership Team. Under David’s leadership he has overseen the growth of the European, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) division of Salesforce from a three person Irish start up to a pan-European business with offices across Europe including regional hubs in Dublin, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Munich.

Prior to establishing Salesforce EMEA, David held executive positions at Oracle, in both the UK and at home, including nine years spent as Head of Ireland Consulting Services. David is a certified Member of the Institute of Directors and has both an MBA (2005) and DBA (2015) from Waterford Institute of Technology. His recent book ‘Industry Trends in Cloud Computing’ was published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2018.

Launching the Stakeholders’ Report, Dr Dempsey commented, “I was invited to join the board of Wexford Enterprise Association back in 2015. It’s unique business model and the many dynamic people, past and present, that have served on the board, made me want to be part of this team working for the betterment of Wexford. I believe the phrase is: Think globally. Act locally.”

The Wexford Enterprise Association Stakeholders’ Report 2019 – 2020 is available to read on their website www.weaireland.ie

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