Social entrepreneurs can find advice and support from many sectors and individuals, but how do you know what’s right for you? And how do the sectors ensure they provide the best support? Our Executive Director Nicklas Wallberg joined a panel of different players within the Swedish social entrepreneurship sector to discuss and explore how we can create an efficient ecosystem for social entrepreneurship in Sweden.

The panel discussion was hosted by Johanna Giorgi at the Swedish government agency for business growth, Tillväxtverket, and it was based on a newly launched report developed by Sweco. Nicklas was joined by Emma Lindgren from Ashoka Scandinavia and government advisor Emelie Schröder. We also heard from inspiring social entrepreneurs Admir Lukacevic (Idrott utan gränser) and Lina Lagerbäck (We Unite Design).

Key points made during the event considered networks, and the importance of being part of something bigger. The social entrepreneurs mentioned issues around public sector business support organisations not understanding social entrepreneurship, and the importance of being able to generate income from various sources, partners and customers. They highlighted having benefitted from having had the opportunity to learn from others. From those who are also struggling but who are passionate about what they do. Providing these meaningful opportunities is therefore needed from the sector.

Building networks and ecosystems

Nicklas argued that the networks should be part of a bigger ecosystem that is less fragmented than it currently is in Sweden, and that we should be looking at long-term investment to create long-term change. There are a lot of players within various sectors that are already doing great work to support social entrepreneurship but he stressed the need for collaborations to ensure streamlined and efficient work. Emma also highlighted the importance of growing the ecosystem beyond current key players by educating investors and supporting an attitude change towards impact investment within the private sector.

According to Emelie there is definitely a momentum around social innovation and social entrepreneurship at the moment and this is what the government is hoping to build on when launching 150 million SEK towards social innovation in 2018. Even though she wasn’t able to share any updates on what the money will go towards, she emphasised the aim to make a systemic change.

We welcome the initiative from the government to support the sector and we truly enjoyed the debate. Many thanks to Tillväxtverket for organising and to the other speakers for their input and passion for social entrepreneurship in Sweden – we’re looking forward to seeing it grow over the next few years!