European summit on social innovation

The European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) will hold its annual conference in Norway for the first time in November. The conference is Europe’s most important meeting place for investors seeking to create social value. “It will offer attendees the chance to meet and learn from investors leading the way in venture philanthropy in Europe”, explains Katinka Greve Leiner, Director of Ferd Social Entrepreneurs.

The EVPA holds an annual conference in a different European city each year. It is now coming to the Nordic region for the first time, specifically to Oslo. This year’s conference will mark the 13th year in a row that the EVPA has held an annual conference, with this year’s event taking place on 9 and 10 November in Oslo’s Sentralen venue. Ferd Social Entrepreneurs (Ferd SE) is hosting this year’s European summit in collaboration with the City of Oslo, the DNB Savings Bank Foundation, the SpareBank 1 Østfold Akershus Foundation and TD Veen.

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Greater interest
The Director of Ferd Social Entrepreneurs has been on the board of the EVPA for the past five years, and has followed the development of venture philanthropy in Europe through the EVPA’s network. Ferd SE and its collaboration partners now want to invite more Norwegian companies to invest in creating social value.

“The Norwegian investor market is still at the starting line, but over the past few years groups that invest in social entrepreneurship have sprung up. We are pleased that a number of social investors and the City of Oslo have joined us as partners for the conference. Our partners have for some time supported social entrepreneurs in Norway and contributed to the development of the field. The conference represents an opportunity to meet like-minded people from Europe, and a unique chance to learn from the best in venture philanthropy”, comments Katinka.

Social impact
The approach taken by the EVPA is comparable to the basic idea behind Ferd SE and its collaboration partners: In addition to investing financial resources into social entrepreneurs, investors engage with them over a number of years, with investors setting measurable requirements for the social impact they achieve.

“In other words, investing in social entrepreneurs involves thinking in the same way as a normal venture investor, but with a social dimension. Some people find this a bit strange, particularly funds and foundations that have perhaps tended to give out grants each year without making any other commitments. Investing in social entrepreneurship requires a different type of engagement and somewhat more resources. We think, however, that this is the most sensible way of investing if your aim is to have a social impact. We are therefore looking forward to having good discussions about this at this year’s conference”, comments Katinka.

Host city
The City of Oslo is one of the conference’s collaboration partners, both because Oslo is the host city and because the City of Oslo is keen to collaborate with social entrepreneurs to stimulate innovation in the services it provides.

“There is a need in Norway for more knowledge about the difference that social entrepreneurs can make to individuals and society. An important part of facilitating the work of social entrepreneurs is for there to be a meeting place and network building opportunities for investors and foundations. Oslo will also use the conference to highlight its collaboration with social entrepreneurs and to demonstrate some good examples from the area, such as the Refugee Boost program. The City of Oslo is looking forward to welcoming the international EVPA Annual Conference to Oslo in November 2017”, comments Bettina Thorvik, Political Secretary for Business Development and Public Ownership at the City of Oslo.

Arena for social innovation
The DNB Savings Bank Foundation and the SpareBank 1 Østfold Akershus Foundation have years of experience in social entrepreneurship thanks to their own support schemes, and they are keen to contribute to the development of the field.

“In setting up Sentralen in Oslo, we have created an environment for social entrepreneurship, and are proud that it has been chosen as the venue for the EVPA Conference. Those who contribute to social innovation from across Europe will gather there to share their knowledge and build their networks”, comments André Støylen, CEO of the DNB Savings Bank Foundation.

“The SpareBank 1 Østfold Akershus Foundation has supported a number of projects to which social entrepreneurs have contributed solutions that have had strongly beneficial social impacts. Creating new solutions often requires interaction between the public sector, the private sector and voluntary organisations, and the EVPA conference is an important arena for enabling organisations to tap into and learn from the experience of others”, comments Just Erik Næss, CEO of the SpareBank 1 Østfold Akershus Foundation.

Seeking to inspire
TD Veen is a Stavanger-based company that invests in social entrepreneurs. It is seeking to inspire more Norwegian investors to see the opportunities in the field.

“TD Veen and Samfunnsentralen, a co-working space created by TD Veen, are helping social entrepreneurs reach out with their solutions to social issues. Working so closely with so many committed entrepreneurs is very rewarding. What we learn leads to lasting changes, and once you’ve started it is the only way forward. We hope that what we do will also inspire others to find their way of contributing”, comments Anja Moen Hareim, CEO of TD Veen Social Entrepreneurs.

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Facts/ Venture Philanthropy
* 'Venture' is a term that is usually used in relation to financial projects involving risk, particularly investing in start-ups or high-growth companies that need a lot of capital and involve a lot of uncertainty.

* 'Philanthropy' originally means “love for mankind”, while in the context of venture philanthropy it means creating value for society.

* The European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) is a European umbrella organisation for organisations and companies that invest in social entrepreneurs. Such investment usually involves a combination of financial support and expertise, with requirements set for the investee in terms of return, milestones and scale.

* Ferd Social Entrepreneurs is a member of the EVPA. Katinka Greve Leiner is on the Board of Directors of the EVPA.


TEXT: Irina Lee and Anniken Grundt

Ferd Social Entrepreneurs invests in social entrepreneurs. The company provides networking, capital and expertise in business development and strategy.

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Topics: labour market issues, entrepreneurship, local government services, social conditions, social services, welfare, economics, finance

Key words: social entrepreneurship, innovation, public services, social innovation, investor, investment, funds, foundations, venture capital, venture, philanthropy, organisations, social value creation, social impact

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