Who we are
Social Enterprise NI is the representative body for social enterprises and social entrepreneurs across Northern Ireland. Connecting, supporting, developing and sustaining vibrant businesses to create social change. We are an independent, member-led organisation and a gateway for social enterprises in Northern Ireland.
We create a space in which all players, irrespective of size or experience, have their voice heard and can learn from one another. We also provide opportunities for collaboration between social enterprises and the public and private sectors. Our activities support all levels, from start-ups and community groups at the beginning of their social enterprise journey, to more experienced social enterprises. Together, we aspire to achieve an environment where society profits and social enterprises excel at addressing and meeting community needs.
Meet the staff team
Colin Jess – Chief Executive
Colin took on the position of Chief Executive at Social Enterprise NI in June 2016 having spent 38 years working across local financial institutions. During his time mainly in Ulster Bank, Colin was a member of the senior management team within Business Banking. In the Bank Colin lead the Banks interaction and relationship with key stakeholders across, social enterprise, charity and voluntary sectors, as well as engaging with the Public Sector.
Colin is currently a Council Member of NI Chamber of Commerce and in December 2020 was appointed to the reconstituted Procurement Board to represent the social enterprise sector. He is passionate about the benefits of social value in procurement. Colin also sits on the High Street Taskforce Forum as well as the Belfast City Councils, Growing the Economy & City Development Board. He is an Ambassador for local charity Start360 and a member of The Resurgam Trust Advisory Panel. He is formerly Chair of the Finance and Governance Committee of Women in Business.
Outside of work Colin enjoys family life and supporting Glentoran Football Club where he is a Board Member since 2016.
Mobile: 078 7247 0327
Amanda Johnston – Operations & Membership Manager
Amanda’s carries out the role of Manager of Operations and Membership. She has been an integral part of the team at Social Enterprise NI (SENI) from the inception of the organisation in 2012 and remains to this day, the only original member of staff. Amanda’s knowledge of the sector is invaluable, and she eats, sleeps, breathes all things Social Enterprise.
Amanda is also the link between SENI and its “sister” organisations across the UK, bringing best practice to the sector NI but also profiling the work of SENI to a wider audience. She has taken her turn to represent SENI on judging panels, attends events outside of working hours and willingly deputises for the Director at meetings with sectors from all sectors.
If you are looking for support Amanda’s currently has responsibility for:
Leading on membership development: Amanda is the first port of call for members who require assistance knowing that they will get a positive and friendly response.
Identifying and facilitating trading opportunities: Amanda has a key role in securing as many trading opportunities as possible for members, between each other and other sectors including promoting the concept of “Buy Social.”
Knowledge sharing/Networking events: Amanda has also led on developing and organising a range of seminars, training events and networking events on relevant topics for members.
Amanda has worked in the Third Sector from 2002 in a range of organisations including those with a focus on supporting social enterprises. She is an excellent networker and engages well with individuals at all levels within an organisation. She has a fantastic ability to ensure she is up-to-speed with all relevant support initiatives and signpost appropriately due to her skills in connecting and networking with a wide range of support organisations and key stakeholders within the third sector.
Amanda has a BSc Hons in Business Management and Finance and is a Clore Fellow since 2019.
Michelle Cassidy - Head of Marketing
Michelle has previously held marketing roles at Q Radio, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and PR agency, Rumour Mill PR. Clients included Foyleside Shopping Centre, The Gobbins and Belfast City Council.
Michelle oversaw the PR and digital marketing strategy to launch The Gobbins tourist attraction in Northern Ireland and held the marketing tourism tender for Lisburn City Centre for two years.
During her time at Q Radio, she achieved over 1 million engagement reach weekly and grew the social media following from 21,000 to 131,000.
She brings a wealth amount of experience and knowledge in Digital Marketing, PR, Events and communications.
Phone: 07591 379277
Catherine Burns - Head of Events & Comms
Catherine has a wealth of experience in business management, administration, comms and event planning across several industries, including retail, creative, and fitness.
She holds a BA Hons in Fashion & Textile Design from the University of Ulster and has extensive experience working with the public, community groups and local government. Having developed and managed her own fitness business (Catherine B Fitness) over the past 8 years, she is also currently co-founder of Peak Adventures hiking group.
As an avid sportswoman, Catherine is a fully qualified fitness instructor, mountain guide, and has competed internationally in roller derby.
Catherine is an excellent communicator and is highly skilled in strategic planning, business management, comms and administration.
Mobile: 07748 383004