Rolling out a Nordic accelerator program on workplace inclusion
The Norwegian Impact StartUp program, which involves ten social entrepreneurs receiving expert help with developing their businesses, is currently being run for the third year in a row. Ferd Social Entrepreneur’s Henriette Skretteberg explains that the program has been a success.
“We are starting to be in a position where we are confident that we play a complementary role in Norway’s start-up ecosystem. We are proud of this”, she explains.
Solving societal challenges
The accelerator program helps early-stage social entrepreneurs that do not yet have a fully developed business model.
“We assess solutions to societal challenges and connect companies with other backers that can help them further”, explains Henriette.
In this way Ferd Social Entrepreneurs and Impact StartUp are developing an ecosystem for companies that seek to solve societal problems.
“To succeed, these companies need to have backers around them that understand the value of what they are working to achieve. Supporting an ecosystem that gives companies access to a network of different types of investors and suitable backers increases the probability of them succeeding”, she continues.
Strong collaboration partners
Ferd Social Entrepreneurs has from the start sought to get more organisations involved in developing social entrepreneurs. In 2019 Impact StartUp joined up with several strong collaboration partners.
“We are incredibly proud to be standing alongside Klaveness and Wilstart in relation to this work. Klaveness and Wilstart are now close to the program and are looking at what future opportunities this might hold for them”, explains Henriette Skretteberg.
In addition, foundations such as Eivind Astrups Allmennyttige Stiftelse and SpareBank 1 Stiftelsen Østfold Akershus are also involved in supporting the program.
With a well-established Norwegian accelerator, Ferd Social Entrepreneurs and the Impact StartUp team are now ready to take the next step. In collaboration with strong partners from the other Nordic countries, the first joint Nordic program will be run in autumn 2020. The program’s topic is workplace inclusion, and it will only be open to social entrepreneurs that seek to get excluded people into work. According to Henriette Skretteberg, the aim of the partnership is to play on the strengths of the organisations involved.
“We contribute what each of us is uniquely strong at, and benefit from each other’s supplementary expertise”, she explains.
All the partners will run individual local programs in each country in addition to the joint Nordic-wide program.
Sharing knowledge and resources
The aim of pooling expertise and resources across international borders is to bring out the synergies generated by multiple social entrepreneurs working on the same social challenge. Impact StartUp Nordic will seek to achieve this by trying to understand the reasons for exclusion and then recruiting those companies that they think will potentially deliver the most effective results. Henriette Skretteberg explains that the companies that will be recruited to the workplace inclusion program may have different characteristics.
“They might be organisations that employ vulnerable people, or organisations that have innovative solutions within the area of qualifying for working life, or they may have other recruitment models. It will be exciting to find out and map where we can have the greatest impact”, she explains.
The Nordic-wide initiative has received funds from Nordic Innovation, and Henriette Skretteberg thinks that this has been crucial in terms of being able to develop the program. One use to which the funds will be put is developing a Nordic InvestorLab and a training network for innovative public sector procurement. The plan is also to run more joint accelerator programs in the years ahead.