In 2016 we had more companies in the Alumni portfolio than in the active portfolio, with nine companies in the former and five in the latter. In overall terms the figures demonstrate that building social companies takes time, but that a good majority of our social entrepreneurs steadily become stronger. Ferd SE’s annual SosEnt Conference in 2016 brought together 300 committed people in Oslo’s Sentralen venue for the purpose of creative dialogue and interaction with municipal Norway in the form of the Oslo and Bærum municipalities.
In overall terms the figures demonstrate that building social companies takes time, but that a good majority of our social entrepreneurs steadily become stronger.
In addition, two companies in our Alumni portfolio reached major milestones. The first was that Unicus re-joined the active portfolio when we took an equity stake in the company, which is the first time Ferd has ever made such an investment. The second milestone was that the Pøbelprosjektet became a wholly owned subsidiary of Aleris, which in a meeting with Ferd
Developing a market for social entrepreneurs in Norway is a slow process. What is needed is more investors and customers in both the private and public sectors brave enough to try out new solutions. The companies we come across that have innovative ideas on social impact are either at a very early stage or are in the process of setting up. Few traditional investors are interested in companies of this type.
But changes can be detected; at the end of 2016 the Pøbelprosjektet was sufficiently attractive for Aleris to decide to acquire the entire company, which it regards as a strength in its quest to win more contracts from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration in relation to getting young people back into work or education. We think that this is the start of a trend consisting of private organisations in the welfare sector starting to pay more attention to social entrepreneurs and the innovation they represent.
We have noticed that both investors that have traditionally only sought financial returns and those that have traditionally been interested only in social impact (families, foundations etc.) are increasingly considering investments in social entrepreneurs. The move to more mixed investment models seems to be taking time – both due to the discussions that are required and the process of developing strategies. We expect to see greater active involvement in this approach to investing in the future. Ferd SE believes that savings bank foundations across Norway have a lot to offer social entrepreneurs in terms of their networks, local knowledge and capital, and we have seen more of them thinking along the same lines as the Østfold and Akershus Savings Bank Foundation.
We have noticed that both investors that have traditionally only sought financial returns and those that have traditionally been interested only in social impact (families, foundations etc.) are increasingly considering investments in social entrepreneurs.
We had five active portfolio companies at the end of 2016, and a further three companies transferred to the Alumni portfolio during the year. 2016 represents something of a milestone as during the year we welcomed an Alumni company back into the active portfolio for the first time, which took place when we made our first ever equity investment in a social entrepreneur. This investment consists of a 37.6% stake in Unicus and is intended to contribute to the company’s efforts to scale up its activities. The portfolio as a whole has shown that social entrepreneurs are capable of creating significant value for society (Vista Analyse, 2014). Our main efforts are directed at helping companies to create a strong double bottom line with good social as well as financial results. In showing that such companies represent good investments for society, we are aiming to pave the way for more people to take the opportunity of investing in building a market for social entrepreneurs and companies with a clear double bottom line. We have worked actively with 18 companies and provided smaller amounts of support to nearly 40 other companies since our owner, Johan H. Andresen, signed the first agreement with a social entrepreneur in 2008. We have helped these companies to develop not just through our expertise but also using tools such as grants, loans and guarantees, in addition to providing equity capital. We believe in long-term agreements, support that enables organisations to develop and professionalise (operations) and measuring social benefits, which are principles we share with many other social investors in Europe.
We received and processed more than 200 applications in 2016 and admitted three new entrepreneurs to our ‘To hold investment’ program, which is a newly established intensive starter year for the portfolio. If companies on the scheme progress as expected during the program, they may transfer to a three-year agreement as a regular member of the portfolio.We carried Barnas Plattform over from 2015 in addition we also ended our collaboration with Norsk Mestring, which joined the First Steps program in 2015. All together we had 5 companies in this stage in 2016. The 3 new entrepreneurs on the ”Toe hold investment” program are:
Lydfarge – (Maaike Visser) is using a method that decompose the spoken words to different soundbites and then assigning the different soundbites a colour which makes it easier for people struggling with learning to read and write to acquire these skills.
Minos – (Mona Krahl (née Johansen)) is in the process of developing an HES system for pupils aimed at schools in Norway. This is an expert system that deals with serious issues such as bullying, neglect and mental illness.
Medarbeiderne – (Chris Klemmetvold) employs former drug addicts. Medarbeiderne’s main product is a subscription service involving the collection of glass, metal and other recyclable items etc. from private individuals and businesses. The company additionally offers a service that allows private individuals and businesses to hire a worker to complete small tasks.
The Alumni portfolio
The objective for all our investments is that the social entrepreneurs in the portfolio should become financially self-sufficient over a period of 3-6 years. Our social entrepreneurs are given the opportunity of transferring to the Alumni portfolio when our active involvments with them come to an end. Alumni companies attend the events we hold two or three times a year for all our portfolio companies and keep us updated about their financial and social results. The Change Factory (Forandringsfabrikken), Monsterbedriften and Lyk-z & daughters transferred to the Alumni portfolio in 2016, while Unicus moved in the opposite direction (from the Alumni portfolio to the active portfolio). The other companies in the Alumni portfolio are Gatemagasinet Asfalt, Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise Norway (Ungt Entreprenørskap), Scientist Factory (Forskerfabrikken), the Pøbelprosjektet, Trivselsleder and Gladiator. We are incredibly proud of what these companies have achieved.
The 2016 Social Entrepreneurship Conference
The 2016 Social Entrepreneurship Conference was targeted at municipalities/local government in their capacity as public sector customers and framework setters. We worked closely with the municipalities of Oslo, Asker and Bærum to ensure the content of the conference was relevant to them in order to increase their involvement with social entrepreneurs. The conference took place on October 26th at the Sentralen venue in Oslo, with the 300 or so attendees including 125 individuals from the public sector. The remainder of the attendees were investors, social entrepreneurs and individuals from business and industry. Jan Tore Sanner, the Norwegian Minister of Local Government and Modernisation, took to the stage at this year’s conference to present his ministry’s cookboook for using social entrepreneurs in the local government sector. Seldom, possibly never, have so many social entrepreneurs been gathered together in the same place in Norway. 25 of them presented their businesses from four different stages on the day of the conference. All attendees learnt about twelve different entrepreneurs from areas in which they were interested (the elderly, children and young people, refugees, and work). The event was very successful and has since resulted in numerous high-quality conversations. The conference was filmed, with the videos available to view and information on the 25 entrepreneurs who presented at the conference available on www.sosentkonferansen.no.
Jan Tore Sanner, the Norwegian Minister of Local Government and Modernisation, took to the stage at this year’s conference to present his ministry’s cookboook for using social entrepreneurs in the local government sector.
Generasjonsmøtet M was crowned Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016. Generasjonsmøtet M was started five years ago at Foss Upper Secondary School in Oslo as part of Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise Norway’s work at the school. The prize therefore also celebrates and recognises Junior Achievement - Young Enterprise Norway.
In 2016 Johan, Katinka and the rest of the Ferd SE team delivered more than 60 presentations in Norway and abroad. We have continued our regular ‘Open House’ meetings, and five meetings were held in 2016. These meetings last for two hours and are held at Ferd’s offices in Lysaker, with invitations sent out online and on social media. Anyone who wants to learn about social entrepreneurship and to engage in dialogue with Ferd SE can attend. Around 55 people attended our ‘Open House’ events in 2016.
The number of full-time equivalent positions in the business area was 4.8 in 2016, split between 5 permanent employees. The team consists of two women and three men and remained stable throughout the year. The expanded team is enabling us to work more closely than previously with the entrepreneurs. It has also allowed us to strengthen our focus on developing the market for social entrepreneurs, and we have been able to spend more time on working with other potential investors.
Social entrepreneurship is a growth area internationally, and the field is attracting increasing interest in Norway. Ferd SE is regularly approached by a large number of parties looking to learn from our experience in the field and to collaborate with us on potential projects. We willingly share what we have learned, both by giving talks and by meeting interested parties directly. We have chosen to prioritise the use of our resources on teams and individuals where we think there is good potential for practical action and benefits that will further the cause of social entrepreneurship.