Business Plus

Oakfield Trust Makes A Difference In Clondalkin

The Trust is disbursing property rental income to social enterprise­s, writes

- Arlene Harris

Sustainabi­lity and corporate responsibi­lity have been buzz words across every sector for a number of years but Oakfield Trust has long been ahead of the curve. Establishe­d in

1996, the Clondalkin social enterprise and registered charity has been supporting community organisati­ons and enterprise­s in the locality for almost three decades.

Oakfield Trust is the trading name for Clondalkin Community Property Developmen­t CLG, and worked closely with the Clondalkin Partnershi­p as it developed.

As the partnershi­p expanded its reach to become the South Dublin County Partnershi­p, Oakfield Trust also widened its scope within the community.

The Trust’s primary activity is property management and developmen­t involving the acquisitio­n, customisat­ion and management of properties that are leased to organisati­ons working with marginalis­ed groups in socially excluded communitie­s. The Trust owns three commercial properties let to anchor tenants, while two other properties are leased and sub-let to community-based organisati­ons.

Chairperso­n Aileen O’Donoghue, one of the founders, says the trust came into existence to cope with demand for space. “Various social organisati­ons were getting government funding for the first time and starting to employ staff, but there was no suitable space to allow them to run their operations from the area. Most of the available work space in Clondalkin

was over shops in the village.

“A group of us came together and identified a number of industrial buildings which would be suitable for turning into offices. We then leased them, did some refurbishm­ent and made them available to community organisati­ons. Some were tailored for specific use while others shared facilities under one roof.”

Oakfield Trust’s tenants have included a local developmen­t company, Citizens Informatio­n office, employment services, an intercultu­ral centre, and a family resource centre. “We have also assisted groups to find their own premises,” O’Donoghue adds.

Since 2000, Oakfield Trust has sourced funding from Triodos Bank in Bristol. This bank is unusual is that it exclusivel­y lends based on sustainabi­lity criteria, and was doing so long before such a policy became fashionabl­e. Social lending made up over half of the bank’s lending activity in 2022, and this spans loans to traditiona­l businesses or non-profit organisati­ons, innovative enterprise­s, and service providers with clear social objectives.

Oakfield Trust’s investment properties were valued at €1,670,000 in December 2011 according to filed accounts for the CLG’s operating company. This was up €660,000 on the previous year due to a revaluatio­n. Bank debt owed declined from €600,000 to €500,000 as the Trust recorded a €130,000 surplus on its activities.

In 2023, the Trust launched a new fund to provide finance to social enterprise­s, with the aim of disbursing €250,000 over a five-year period. The open fund has two calls a year, and ‘Scale Up’ funding up to €10,000 is offered for an establishe­d social enterprise or entreprene­ur; ‘Get Started’ offers up to €5,000 to develop a new social enterprise idea towards start-up; while an ‘Explore Award’ offers cash assistance to encourage individual­s to explore an idea which addresses a social issue.

“We had 40 applicatio­ns in the first round, which is fantastic,” says O’Donoghue. “Our ambition is also to provide informatio­n about social enterprise, how it works and what it can achieve. In addition, we want to bring together people who are involved in social enterprise­s and introduce projects from other localities.”

 ?? ?? Gareth Ebbs, Social Impact Manager at Oakfield Trust, with ReCreate CEO Emma Connors and Tom Rooney, Head of Enterprise and LEO South Dublin
Gareth Ebbs, Social Impact Manager at Oakfield Trust, with ReCreate CEO Emma Connors and Tom Rooney, Head of Enterprise and LEO South Dublin

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