Gaining momentum and growing the social entrepreneurship ecosystem
We’re almost at the end of 2017 and can look back at a great year where we have, amongst other things, been putting energy into a deeper understanding of the Swedish social entrepreneurship ecosystem. Researching, writing and analysing how to play a part of a systematic change where the number of financially sustainable social enterprises can grow. Where ideas and solutions to difficult problems can foster and scale. And where the impact of our collective actions makes our society stronger and a better place to live.
We have a wealth of experience and knowledge from our previous work. However, it’s vital to sometimes reboot, go on field trips, have the conversations you never make time for, to gain new perspectives. We shared some of our findings at Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth Tillväxtverket‘s seminar about the support structure for social entrepreneurs in Sweden. We were joined on stage by social enterprises, other support organisations as well as the Minister for Enterprise and Innovation’s political expert. A key take-away for me was how the government for the first time has packaged an investment specifically for the sector. The amount – 150 million SEK over three years – isn’t a lot to reach the goal of a systematic change in the sector. However, it’s a start for the sector to gain momentum. You can read more about the event here and watch it here.
Do as we preach
In addition to numerous conversations and interviews we also initiated a round table discussion with Swedish social entrepreneurs, support organisations and enablers within the municipality sector. It started off with a look back 10 years to understand where we’re coming from. We then moved on to what it looks like today and finished off with how we see the sector grow in the next 10 years. These perspectives are so valuable and we aim to continue this work in the coming year to do as we preach; building an ecosystem rather than focusing on our own silo.
Our research work will result in a report (launching in January) we’re working on together with colleagues from Latvia and Belarus, with funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers. We are looking at the cooperation between social entrepreneurs and municipalities and have found it fascinating how you can understand your own country better by hearing what others are doing. We’ll be sharing full recommendations in the report but as a Christmas treat I can share a high-level snapshot of our research findings:
- The social enterprise sector is too small to work in separate silos. It’s vital for municipalities, national government and expert bodies to emphasis the entire ecosystem, enabling a strong pipeline of social enterprises being built and scaled to generate social and environmental impact.
- There is a strong benefit in having a dedicated job role in the municipality for coordination between social enterprises and municipality departments.
- Research from countries with a more developed social enterprise sector, i.e. United Kingdom and Australia, highlights the importance of core funding for support organisations for social entrepreneurs.
We’re looking forward to continuing this work in 2018, and in the meantime, we’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas!