Ferd Social Entrepreneurs - 2010 summarized

This year, Ferd Social Entrepreneurs have established a diversified portfolio and simultaneously highlighted Ferd as a champion of social entrepreneurship in Norway.

•First big conference in Norway on social entrepreneurship held on 4 May.
•Five social entrepreneurs admitted to portfolio: Unicus, New Page, Forandringsfabrikken, Trivselsleder and Aball1
•The first closure of an organisation in our portfolio came about with New Page.
•Several major features about the companies in the portfolio in important media

Ferd Social Entrepreneurs (FSE) invests in social entrepreneurs who reflect Ferd’s vision of creating enduring value and leaving a clear footprint. Our social entrepreneurs have innovative solutions to social problems and use the financial bottom line to help the maximum number of people as quickly as possible, and to ensure the long-term sustainability of their operations. FSE’s principal objective is to help organisations which enable children and young people to develop themselves and their potential.

The Board has set aside up to NOK 20 million per year for the work, and in 2010 we spent NOK 7.6 million. Apart from the 1.5 employees dedicated to the area, employees from Ferd’s other business areas and Ferd’s subsidiaries, Elopak and Aibel, have spent many hours as board members and in other assistance to our social entrepreneurs. We have also drawn on external skills, mainly through pro bono work from competent individuals who can complement our own skills. Following a tweaking of the strategy towards greater concentration on the portfolio organisations, it has been decided to increase FSE's capacity with an extra full-time employee in 2011.

There was a notable rise in the number of inquiries in 2010. Many could be rejected over the phone, and very few fully satisfied FSE’s criteria. We have therefore sharpened our presentation on the web pages and developed a simplified net-based application form to be launched in 2011. We have selected a narrow interpretation of what we regard as social entrepreneurship, in that there must be a clear commercial value in the activity and the likelihood of long-term financial sustainability. The proportion of suitable projects has increased since 2009, and several projects have thus been assessed and admitted to the portfolio. We still need to communicate more widely the opportunities that Ferd can offer for the right social entrepreneurs with ambitions for growth. This focus has been presented in numerous talks given in the course of the year, both by Ferd's CEO and the leader of FSE. We have continued to work on visibility and awareness in 2010, especially through our ‘velFERD’ conference and the associated ‘velFERD’ Prize for Social Entrepreneur of the Year. In addition we have aggressively pushed the social media, and re-launched the FSE Facebook Group with some 600 members.

Our investments
At New Year the rehab project stepped down from the portfolio following the agreed period of three years. New Page were unsuccessful with their tender in Oslo and Bergen and were obliged to cease operations. All the other members of the portfolio have made good progress and are continuing their development. With Ferd’s help, Ungt Entreprenørskap is establishing an international prize for social entrepreneurship, Forskerfabrikken has more than doubled the number of young people taking courses, we have entered into a new agreement with Asfalt which is now making a profit, Trivselsleder reached around 350 schools, Unicus has gone from four to seven employees, Forandringsfabrikken is in demand and more and more have had the pleasure of trying Aball1. The major challenge for the future will be to develop better result indicators for the social effects of the organisations’ activities. This will demonstrate the return of our investments on the double bottom line, both financial and social, to the society we are a part of.

Future prospects
We have every reason to believe that 2011 will bring an even greater activity level and enhanced awareness of the work of social entrepreneurs in Norway. FSE intends to strengthen its measurement and assessment of the social results of the organisations in the portfolio. Several of these are now so well established that this will be an easier task to perform. We shall also continue our hunt for new and exciting organisations for the portfolio.

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