Social Enterprise Certified— Alex’s Adventures
In this member Social Enterprise Certified member interview series we ask Nicole Ryan, founder of Alex’s Adventures, a few questions about her journey that led her to create her own social enterprise.
Written by Lia Arrieta
Alex’s Adventure is one of our 12 social enterprises within our Social Enterprise Certification Program. Alex’s Adventures is based in Ireland but has a global reach. This social enterprise aims to educate students about the impacts of substance abuse through workshops and drug education programs.
When did this organization start?
Alex’s Adventure was founded in 2016
What benefits do you see from being social enterprise certified?
For me being a certified SE gives other businesses who work with me peace of mind that they are truly doing good in the community. It also gives me a boost to stand out and know that I am internationally recognized.
How was this social enterprise started?
My story began in Jan 2016 when my only brother Alex went to a house party in the Greenmount area, Cork City and ingested a synthetic substance believing it to be a less potent drug called 2-CP. Alex had thought he had done his research on the substance he was trying. He was 18 years of age and had a lot of plans for his future. Alex ended up taking a huge dose of the lethal drug known as N-bomb which resulted in him being brought to Cork University Hospital where he never regained consciousness and subsequently 4 days later sadly passed away after being pronounced brain-dead.
I gave up my career as a Marine & Plant Engineer to come home and build Alex’s Adventure. Over the last 5 years I have travelled the length and breadth of Ireland visiting schools and delivering my workshop educating and sharing how our choices can impact our lives forever. To date I have visited over 70 schools, colleges, youth clubs & businesses and have delivered this workshop to over 7,200 students nationwide. From this life changing experience Alex’s Adventure, the drug education program was born. My team & I developed a brand-new programme that aims to not only help students learn more about substance misuse but also to upskill people in the community and empower them to be able to do what I can do.
I am an expert in my field and have been facilitating drug education workshops for over five years. I have a degree in Marine & Plant Engineering, a Certificate in Training Development & design and a Dip. in Substance Misuse and Addiction Studies. Currently I am working towards my full accreditation as an Addiction Counsellor, and I also work with start-ups in helping them tell their stories and with corporate teams in building inner resilience.
What is your social mission?
Our mission is for each student to have access to relevant and informative drug education. Click here to learn more!
Why did you start your organization?
I started Alex’s Adventure because I knew that change in the drug education scene was needed and I didn’t want what happened to my family happen to another so needlessly. Initially I waited for change to happen but what I realized was what Gandhi said “ To see change sometimes you gotta be the change” and here I am.
What is a recent exciting success?
We just piloted the new e-Learning programme with students here and it was a fantastic success so our programme will be available globally in Aug/Sept 2021!
Who are your biggest influences?
My biggest influence is (and I am sure everyone says this!) my mum and my brother — He taught me how to be fearless and my mum taught me how to be strong.
What other social enterprises do you admire?
There are LOADS! : We Make Change, The Body Shop, Food Cloud to name a few. I could be here all day.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“The worst that can happen is nothing” — This was the advice I got from my best friend when I was in two minds about starting. I was so afraid of what people would think that I almost didn’t do it but when she said that I realized that she was right. At the time I had lost everything that was dear to me, so this was a new opportunity for me to start so I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and dived in.
What advice do you give someone wanting to start a social enterprise?
Every expert was once a beginner so just start wherever you are just go for it. I had no clue about being an entrepreneur, about drugs, public speaking or designing but I learned everything along the way. If you have a clear purpose and a fire in your belly you can do it too and don’t be afraid to ask for help — there are a lot of good people in this world.