The Trinity MBA Blog

Trinity MBA Company Projects deliver value to social enterprises

/ by Dr. Sheila Cannon

The Social Enterprise Project (SEP) company project is the single most differentiating feature of the Trinity MBA. The students apply their business skills and knowledge to a challenge faced by a Social Enterprise.  

Over the years, teams of Trinity MBA students have helped solve 80 unique challenges facing social enterprises, and the communities they serve. As 2021 comes to a close, we look back at two MBA teams who helped create change, resulting in funding for the initiatives – a game changer for the organisations.


The Social Enterprise.

PACE (which stands for Prevention, Accommodation, Community, Enterprise) is a social enterprise that support former prisoners through employment and other means. Employment opportunities involve barista training and work at coffee shops, including Dublin’s Four Court coffee house, where former inmates serve the judicial staff tea and coffees. This circular experience sparked a new idea. Maggie Clune, Manager at PACE and her team began to use the coffee grounds towards a new composting initiative, due to the demand for compost in the greater Dublin area.

The Challenge.

The idea needed research and development to bring it to fruition. Chris Gordon, Founder and CEO of the Irish Social Enterprise Network, as well as Project Leader on Trinity’s MBA Social Enterprise Projects, brought Maggie together with a Trinity MBA team to design a new initiative to create meaningful work, reduce waste, and contribute to organic farming initiatives locally.

The Result.

The MBA team delivered a plan for a new financially and environmentally sustainable initiative, enabling Maggie to apply for government funding through The Circular Economy Innovation Grant Scheme, and make the composting initiative happen.

Part of the value in working with the Trinity MBA students is to be able to spread the word of PACE. The MBA team was a really diverse group of people who are clearly going to be doing great things in the world, and they'll continue to spread the word about the good work of PACE in what they endeavour to do in their careers going forward. I think they learned about the job satisfaction that you can get from working in an enterprise that has a social mission.”

Maggie Clune, Manager, PACE

shuttleknit - logo


The Social Enterprise.

Since the mid-1990s, Shuttle Knit has brought together Traveller women from County Wicklow, Ireland, to design and create beautiful knitwear. The products are sold online and at weekend markets with the aim of changing negative attitudes towards Travellers.

The Challenge.

When Covid-19 wiped out their retail sales, and put a stop to the markets, Shuttle Knit knew they needed to move online, but needed a strategy on how to reach their customers and grow sales.

The Result.

The work and analysis done by the Trinity MBA team delivered a strategy to grow online sales. This research contributed to a successful funding application to Rethink Ireland, and earned Shuttle Knit a place on their accelerator programme.

Trinity MBA team’s input enabled us to put together an excellent proposal that was backed up by data. We were able to show that we had tested out our ideas with market research, and that made all the difference. As a small social enterprise, we never would have been able to take the time to do that research ourselves, and we don’t have the knowledge or expertise to do so in-house. It was such a valuable experience!” Susan Heavey, Manager, Shuttle Knit CLG.

Nuala McMahon2On a daily basis we talk about societal equality and how that looks within a more ESG focused world. Working with Shuttle Knit allowed me to stop talking and looking from a distance at social enterprises and appreciate the value of what these enterprises are trying to achieve, ultimately with a focus on improving communities and groups who are marginalised in one way or another.” Nuala McMahon, Trinity Executive MBA (2021), Equity Research Analyst, Goodbody, Ireland.

If you are a social enterprise interested in working with an MBA team, please contact Dr Sheila Cannon, Assistant Professor in Social Entrepreneurship or Chris M Gordon, Project Leader,


Tags: MBA, FT MBA, Executive MBA, Social enterprise, Social Impact, Social Entrepreneurship

Dr. Sheila Cannon

Written by Dr. Sheila Cannon

Dr. Sheila Cannon is Assistant Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Trinity Business School, from where she also was awarded her PhD. Sheila teaches Social Entrepreneurship to Undergraduate and MBA students, as well as teaching Personal and Career Development. Her research looks at organisational identity work, how organisations engage in self-reflection on who they are when faced with significant change.