Ferd Social Entrepreneurs - 2011 summarized

During 2011 Ferd Social Entrepreneurs moved to the next level in their quest for greater understanding of the effect of social entrepreneurship. A significant increase in media attention contributed to a considerable growth in applications received. Our main focus in 2011 has been to highlight the results achieved by the entrepreneurs in our portfolio.

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 the number of people they help as quickly as possible, and to ensure the long-term sustainability of their operations. FSE’s principal objective is to help social businesses which enable children and young people to develop themselves and their potential.

Main results in 2011:

  • We have established a ’VelFERD Academy’ for members of the portfolio, and five classes have been completed
  • FSE increased its staff with the appointment of Øyvind Sandvold as a business development manager
  • FSE invested in two new social entrepreneurs in 2011: ‘Pøbelprosjektet’ and ‘Kjør for livet’
  • 490 applicants have registered their interest in being considered as candidates for our portfolio
  • Several major articles in the media about companies in the FSE portfolio
  • Marked increase in the number of delegates attending the annual VelFERD conference, with 450 in 2011 as compared to 250 in 2010.

The Board has dedicated up to NOK 20 million per year for FSE’s work, and in 2011 we spent NOK 8 million on the portfolio. Apart from the 2.5 employees dedicated to the social entrepreneurship, employees from Ferd’s other business areas and Ferd’s subsidiaries Elopak, Telecomputing and Aibel have dedicated many hours as board members, counceling and in other ways assisting our social entrepreneurs. We have been fortunate to benefit from professional assistance, mainly through pro bono work supplementary to Ferd’s expertise. A new member of the team was recruited as a business development manager in June 2011 in order to increase FSE's capacity towards the portfolio.

Ferd Social Entrepreneurs has now signed its first pro bono agreement, with the law firm Schjødt. The firm's attorneys will provide their time and expertise without charge to assist the social entrepreneurs in Ferd's portfolio.

The number of enquiries received by FSE increased substantially between 2010 and 2011. The number of applications registered on our website reached in 2011 an impressive 490. This reflects significant increase in attention by the media, but also a generally higher level of activity by FSE. There are now two national conferences dedicated solely to social entrepreneurship in Norway. Ferds dedication to social entrepreneurship has been presented in numerous talks throughout the year, both by Ferd's CEO and by the head of FSE. We continued to work on visibility and awareness in 2011. In addition, social entrepreneurship is now on the curriculum at both the Norwegian Business School and the University of Oslo. These developments are creating greater awareness of the way in which we work. Some of the enquiries we receive are however turned down during the course of the initial telephone conversation. It is essential that applicants satisfy the FSA's criteria in full. Our interpretation of social entrepreneurship is quite narrow as we insist on a clear commercial basis for the activity and a clear chance that the activity will be financially sustainable. We have, however, seen a positive increase in the applications that correspond with our requirements since we started in 2009, and we have accordingly been able to consider applicants in greater depth and welcome them to the portfolio. FSE makes active use of social media, and we can be found on our own website pages, on our own blog, on Facebook and on Twitter (@Ferd_SE).

Our investments
Norway has gained a new Ashoka Fellow in Marit Sanner, founder and manager of Forandringsfabrikken. This title is awarded by Ashoka, an international association which has recognised the most capable social entrepreneurs round the world over the past 20 years. The appointment as a Fellow gives access to Ashoka’s international network of social entrepreneurs and to supporters around the world. Marit Sanner shares this title with only two other Norwegians, namely Johann Olav Koss of Right To Play, Hanne Finstad of Forskerfabrikken and Gregory John Smith med Children At Risk Foundation. Forskerfabrikken has arranged evening classes and summer schools for 5,100 children.

Trivselsleder now operates in 620 schools in all the Norwegian counties. We are proud to report that a number of the social entrepreneurs in the FSE portfolio generated a surplus in 2011: Gladiator, Trivselsleder, Forskerfabrikken, the Asfalt street magazine and Unicus.

New European regulations for social investment funds may give social entrepreneurs better access to capital. A new EU Regulation is to be approved in 2012. This regulation will also apply in Norway. A ‘social business’ is a company that principally seeks to resolve a social problem. Despite the value of social businesses, both in social and commercial terms, investors are not always willing to invest in this kind of company. Social entrepreneurs often find it difficult to grow and establish a sustainable scale of operations because of a lack of financing. Prior to publishing its proposed EU Regulation for social investment funds, the Commission carried out an open consultation on social investment funds in September 2011, and Ferd was one of the 67 interested parties that submitted a response to the consultation.

Future prospects
We expect to see an increasing proportion of our resources committed in the future to supporting the development of the social businesses already in our portfolio. The threshold for being admitted to our portfolio in the future will therefore be relatively high.

FSE and the general theme of social partnership have begun to take root in Norwegian society. This has led to greater awareness over the last year. A number of politicians have taken an interest to the subject, and Ungt Entreprenørskap has introduced young entrepreneurship competitions at secondary school on a national basis so that young people are introduced to the concept at an early age. The media are also beginning to show greater interest. Looking forward, we intend to play an active role in demonstrating and publicising the results of social entrepreneurship in Norway. We hope that this will inspire others to contribute to growth in this area.

Ferd’s involvement in and experience of social entrepreneurship is recognised both in Norway and internationally. In 2012, we joined forces with Intel for a program to inspire young entrepreneurs from all over Europe under the umbrella of the Junior Achievement - Young Enterprise organisation. In 2011, FSE contributed to the Ministry of Trade and Industry's commission on social entrepreneurship. Katinka Greve Leiner was invited to join the board of the first Nordic fund for social entrepreneurship, ’Den Sociale Kapitalfond’ in Denmark, which is Tryg Fonden’s first investment in social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship has far to go, but we are pleased to note a greater interest of the subject.


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