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Amanda Zahringer is the Board Chair of UCIT Ireland t/a Community Finance Ireland. She utilises her legal, financial and philanthropic expertise to ensure that Community Finance Ireland can create a world-class community finance system that works towards ensuring that positive social impact is felt – not just dreamt. This is her story…

“I was deliberately and intentionally exploring board roles a few years ago because I’m a huge believer in paying it forward. I received a scholarship at 16 which changed my trajectory and worldview, it gave me an entirely ‘new possible’ and ignited my drive and ambition. To quote a good friend, ‘when you have more than enough, extend the table, don’t build a bigger fence’. I am exceptionally fortunate to be surrounded by brilliant and passionate people who are continually extending and even creating new tables.

So, in search of a role where I could create powerful change at scale, I turned to the leaders around me who encouraged me to take on board roles. I contacted Boardmatch, and the journey began.

I gave them a list of extremely focused requirements. I told them I needed purpose, I wanted to leverage my unique skill set and it was critical that our values were aligned. And then I waited for the right role to come up. Eventually, the perfect match came about.

I truly believe there is a board role for everyone, from the neurodiversity advocate to the art teacher, the finance director, the fashion designer to the corporate lawyer. You just need to find something you’re truly passionate about. Then you do your due diligence, understand the commitment, and lean in knowing you’ll find the right one.

I found what some like to call, my ‘unicorn role’. I started my career as a corporate lawyer, led billion-dollar transactions across the world, had C-Suite roles and global roles, but my work as a board member and Chair has been my biggest challenge and biggest reward.

Sitting on the board of this social enterprise, I’m so fortunate because I am always surrounded by people who are continually extending that table, no matter what the challenges. I feel a great sense of responsibility, ensuring the right people are in place to create solutions to our world problems through our exceptional organisation and people. As a board member, I know I’m working to make sure that magic happens; that true, positive change is progressing.

This role is where I can empower others to be big, bold and brave with their moves. It’s kept me sharp, and it’s kept me humble. I have a huge sense of pride for the projects we work on, ensuring change-makers can continue paving the way. When you empower a community to lead progress and increase that prosperity circle for themselves, I don’t think there can be any greater thing in life.”

This piece resulted from Amanda Zahringer’s interview with We Act on 15th November 2022. Find out more about We Act here and to find out more about Community Finance Ireland visit our website or follow us on Twitter 

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– Community Finance Ireland delivers €1.6million in support for Donegal community organisations.

Ballyshannon-based GAA Club, Aodh Ruadh is celebrating an upgrade to its facilities, helping it maintain county ground status and attract new members, thanks to funding from Community Finance Ireland (CFI). 

Originally founded in 1909, Aodh Ruadh CLG is one of the foremost GAA Clubs in Co. Donegal, with around 400 members.  The Club consists of the main pitch, Father Tierney Park, which holds county ground status and hosts at least one National Football League fixture each year.  It also owns Pairc Aodh Ruadh (Mundy’s field) on an adjoining site, which consists of two sand-based playing fields and training facilities including a Fitness Trail and a Hurling Wall. Aodh Ruadh CLG has enjoyed significant success at County, Provincial & National level and offers both football & hurling to members.

Patsy Kilgannon, committee member at Aodh Rua GAA, said that awareness of Community Finance Ireland’s experience in supporting GAA clubs was a key factor in their decision-making process.  He said: 

There was an awareness of Community Finance Ireland in the club, and we felt it was as convenient to go to Community Finance Ireland instead of traditional sources of finance. A great credit to Anne for making the process a positive experience all the way. The loan from Community Finance Ireland has been utilised to assist with our recent redevelopment costs, helping us to maintain county ground status and improve facilities for our members.”

Patsy Kilgannon, Committee Member, Aodh Ruadh GAA

Since 2016, Community Finance Ireland  has provided €1.6million in social finance loans to 21 projects based in Donegal.  Client Relationship Manager for Connacht and Donegal, Anne Graham, says there’s huge potential for others in Donegal to follow in Aodh Ruadh’s footsteps. 

Ms. Graham said:

“It’s fantastic to see GAA Clubs like Aodh Ruadh CLG investing in their facilities, which not alone helps them to maintain their county ground status, but no doubt plays a role in attracting and retaining members.  Like Aodh Ruadh CLG, Community Finance Ireland is focused on social improvement – all the repayments made on social finance loans go right back into supporting another community group either here in Donegal or across the country.”

Anne Graham, Client Relationship Manager for Connacht and Donegal, Community Finance Ireland

About Community Finance Ireland

Community Finance Ireland delivers social finance solutions that support local communities and drive social impact through sports, community projects, faith-based groups, Arts & Heritage, Childcare, Environment, Health & Wellbeing, Housing, Tourism and social enterprises.  It is the fastest growing dedicated social finance provider across the island of Ireland and the UK. 

Community Finance Ireland is part of the UCIT Group, established in Belfast in 1995 and now supports a diverse portfolio of clients across the island of Ireland from Bantry to Ballymoney, and from Dublin to Dingle.

Currently, Community Finance Ireland is the only Irish and UK member of FEBEA, the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks. 

For further information, visit our website or follow us on Twitter.  

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– Community Finance Ireland delivers €1 million in support for Tipperary community organisations.

Boher Community Development Group is a shining example of what a community can achieve when they come together. Last year Community Finance Ireland supported Boher Community Development Group in the creation of a sensory garden and recreational amenity at the heart of Boher, Co Tipperary.

Nora Keogh, Client Relationship Manager at Community Finance Ireland recently returned to Boher to see the finished community sensory garden, which is wheelchair accessible and includes a geodome, biodiversity garden and a mud kitchen.

Ms. Keogh said:

“It is such a joy to come back to Boher to see this incredible project brought to life and being enjoyed by children and their families. At Community Finance Ireland we support a huge range of community and volunteer-led projects from sports projects to social enterprises to faith-based groups, but they all start with an idea and a group of people who want to make it work.

“Nicola and the team at Boher Community Development Group came to Community Finance Ireland with an idea and we were delighted to help them make it a reality. This group was established just before our first lockdown in 2020 and it goes to show, when you have a vision for your local community, and the drive to create that change, there’s no limit to what you can do.”

Nicola Welford, Chairperson at Boher Community Development Group, said:

“Nicola and the team at Boher Community Development Group came to Community Finance Ireland “We’re very proud of all we’ve achieved for the local community here in Boher. We’re a population of around 350 people and we felt it was so important that we create a space where everyone would feel welcome. It was important that this space was fully wheelchair accessible and inclusive to all.”

“As a small group, everything we achieve is done through the commitment of our volunteers and the support of our local community – so many people played a part in fundraising and in donating their time to create this. To have the social finance support from Community Finance Ireland to get us over the line was fantastic – Nora and the team understand the challenges which community organisations face and their services are tailored to support volunteer-led groups like ours. We couldn’t have made this a reality without them.”

About Community Finance Ireland

Community Finance Ireland delivers social finance solutions that support local communities and drive social impact through sports, community projects, faith-based groups, and social enterprises.  It is the fastest growing dedicated social finance provider across the island of Ireland and the UK. 

Community Finance Ireland is part of the UCIT Group, established in Belfast in 1995 and now supports a diverse portfolio of clients across the island of Ireland from Bantry to Ballymoney, and from Dublin to Dingle.

Currently, Community Finance Ireland is the only Irish and UK member of FEBEA, the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks. 

For further information, visit www.communityfinanceireland.com or keep in touch on our teams latest news @ComFinanceIrl.  

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An Mheitheal Rothar continue to Recycle bikes for locals and we were delighted to help.

– Community Finance Ireland delivers €0.5million in support for Galway community organisations –

The award-winning An Mheitheal Rothar (AMR), a social-sustainable enterprise based in Galway City, is rolling out an expanded service at their community workshop at NUI Galway and at their retail outlet in Galway Shopping Centre, thanks to funding from Community Finance Ireland (CFI). 

Founded in 2012, An Mheitheal Rothar provides access to cycling and cycling mechanic skills training to people in Galway, regardless of their ability to pay. In 2018, the social enterprise introduced their award winning ‘Recycle Your Cycle’ initiative, which repairs and upcycles second-hand bikes. 

An Mheitheal Comhashaol Cooperative, trading as An Mheitheal Rothar, accessed a bridging loan from Community Finance Ireland, an all-island social finance provider, which supports community projects that drive social impact through sports, the arts, faith-based groups and social enterprises.

Cathy Coote, Fundraising and Communications Officer at An Mheitheal Rothar,said the funding has been critical to expand and upscale their offering to the local community in Galway. She said: 

“Our loan from Community Finance Ireland is enabling us to invest in new bike stock for our bike shop. Customers can avail of the Bike to Work scheme for these new bikes. The funds we generate support our work, such as providing free second-hand bikes for students studying under the University of Sanctuary programme as well as repairs, training and upcycled bikes for sale. All this helps to grow the numbers of people cycling for health, transport and sustainability.”

Since 2016, CFI has provided €0.5million in social finance loans to projects based in Galway.  Client Relationship Manager for Connacht and Donegal, Anne Graham, says there’s huge potential for others in Galway to follow in AMR’s footsteps. 

Ms. Graham said: “It’s fantastic to see AMR growing to meet the demand in their local community and for that growth to be sustainable. Like AMR, Community Finance Ireland is a social enterprise – all the repayments made on social finance loans go right back into supporting another community group either here in Galway or across the country. 

“In that sense, our social finance loans aren’t dissimilar to the circular economy which AMR support. We’re delighted to be helping people in Galway get on their bikes, which will in turn help us support a local GAA club in Donegal or a Family Recourse Centre in Mayo.”

  • Anne Graham, Community Finance Ireland is working across Connaught and Donegal
  • For more information on An Mheitheal Rothar, visit: https://bikeworkshops.ie/ 

About Community Finance Ireland

Community Finance Ireland delivers social finance solutions that support local communities and drive social impact through sports, community projects, faith-based groups, and social enterprises.  It is the fastest growing dedicated social finance provider across the island of Ireland and the UK. 

Community Finance Ireland is part of the UCIT Group, established in Belfast in 1995 and now supports a diverse portfolio of clients across the island of Ireland from Bantry to Ballymoney, and from Dublin to Dingle.

Currently, Community Finance Ireland is the only Irish and UK member of FEBEA, the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks. 

For further information, visit www.communityfinanceireland.com or keep in touch on our teams latest news @ComFinanceIrl.  

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