Ferd Social Entrepreneurs - 2009 summarized
2009 was the year in which Ferd Social Entrepreneurs became a separate business area with its own management.
- A Director for Ferd Social Entrepreneurs was appointed in September
- Ferd Social Entrepreneurs was established as a separate business area in December
- Two new social entrepreneurs were added to the portfolio: Research Factory (’Forskerfabrikken’) and ASFALT
- The Research Factory doubled its turnover, and the street magazine ASFALT more than covered its costs in its first year of operations
Ferd Social Entrepreneurs (FSE) invests in social entrepreneurs that reflect Ferd’s vision to create enduring value and leave clear footprints. Our social entrepreneurs have innovative solutions for social problems in society at large, and use the financial bottom line to enable them to help as many as possible and as quickly as possible, and to ensure the long-term sustainability of their operations.
FSE’s principal objective is to help ensure that children and young people can develop themselves and their potential, since we believe that this offers the greatest return for society. We offer our social entrepreneurs access to capital, to our expertise in business development and strategy, and to our network.
In order to ensure that FSE makes the best possible contribution, and to allow us to monitor our social entrepreneurs as closely as we would like, we have in the first instance chosen to concentrate on projects in Norway. Employees from the Ferd group make themselves available as personal resources for our social entrepreneurs, and assist them with expertise in business development and strategy.
The Board of Directors of Ferd Holding decided in 2009 to make Ferd Social Entrepreneurs a separate business area, and Katinka Greve Leiner was appointed as Director. Social entrepreneurs is a new area of focus for Ferd, and Ferd's objective is to achieve good results from an annual investment in our social entrepreneurs in the order of NOK 20 million. The last quarter of the year saw time spent on developing a strategy and establishing procedures for identifying, evaluating, selecting and monitoring promising projects. Over the year as a whole, employees from Ferd and Ferd's subsidiaries Elopak and Aibel committed many hours to our social entrepreneurs through their roles as board members and in providing other assistance.
FSE received more than 100 requests for assistance in 2009. Many of these were very good projects, but few of them fully satisfied FSE’s criteria. In particular, many of the projects seen did not really correspond with the concept of social entrepreneurship as we understand it. This is probably because social entrepreneurship is still a very new concept in Norway. The fact that only a small proportion of the projects presented to us met our expectations indicates that Ferd had not communicated sufficiently clearly what it was looking for at this time. Following our presentation towards the end of 2009 of a more focused area for FSE’s activities, we expect to see an increase in the proportion of projects that suit our criteria in 2010. Even so, we still need to communicate more widely the opportunities that Ferd can offer for the right social entrepreneurs. We will continue to work on increasing our visibility and creating awareness of our activities in 2010, particularly by the launch of the ‘velFERD’ conference and the associated ‘velFERD’ prize.
FSE is extremely pleased with its current investments, both in its longer-standing social entrepreneurs and in the new social entrepreneurs it added to the portfolio in 2009. Our experience in 2009 shows that social entrepreneurs can indeed produce major benefits, both for society in general and for individuals and their families. During the course of the year we contributed expertise, network contacts and capital to Young Enterprise Norway, Rehabpiloten (Entrepreneurship in Rehabilitation), Research Factory and Asfalt. All of these projects have made good progress and are continuing their development. The major challenge for the future is to develop even better ways to quantify the social benefits generated by these projects. This will help us to demonstrate the return on our investment using the double bottom line, representing both the financial return and the social return to the society of which we are part.