In 2014, we established Social StartUp, which is an intensive and experimental accelerator for the development of new social enterprises. In addition to access to long-term intensive coaching and development, participants have the opportunity to apply for start-up capital, including development funds and loans.
Social StartUp was supported financially by VELUX FONDEN and co-financed by VILLUM FONDEN. The programme has contributed unique and important knowledge about the challenges and opportunities that exist for social entrepreneurs. We have also created tangible results in terms of new jobs, ordinary jobs as well as jobs designed for people with special needs.
The most recent group of Social StartUp participants came on board in the autumn of 2016.
In addition to the specific initiatives for social entrepreneurs, Social StartUp has two overlapping goals: The development of an optimal model for an accelerator to support and strengthen social entrepreneurs and ventures, and the use of such model accelerator to create role models capable of applying and showcasing the great potential of social enterprises. Achieving these two goals will help lay the foundation for a solid ecosystem for social enterprise.
From 2014 to 2016, 20 ventures selected from hundreds of applicants were invited to join our accelerator programme. The first group included new social entrepreneurs. The programme has since then also included more advanced ventures seeking to develop and grow their social models,
In addition to being assigned a business developer for six months, participants are advised by some of Denmark’s best experts in strategy, organisational development, operations, sales, marketing and the development of social models in partnership with city councils. After six months, the participants have either been offered mentoring or have set up advisory boards or boards of directors. Some ventures are subsequently selected for an extended process, enabling them to retain the support of their particular business developers for up to 12 months.
For a company to be selected to join the accelerator programme it must potentially be able to combine its social and financial missions; it must be socially effective and economically sustainable; and it must operate on commercial terms and have talented management.
We had a close and active partnership with VELUX FONDEN. The foundation approved the on-going development of our accelerator programme and processed applications for donations of start-up capital and loans. Social StartUp was supported financially by VELUX FONDEN and co-financed by VILLUM FONDEN in the amount of DKK 22 million.
Social StartUp was evaluated midway by Damvad Analytics, an external company whose report (available in Danish only) shows that the participants developed rapidly and had a sharper focus and were more resilient to risk.
Their growth rates were found to vary from no growth to rapid growth. From January to August 2015, revenues grew by between 62% and 368% for the first and second groups of participants. Four out of the first five ventures employed one or more marginalised individuals in the first year. In addition, three out of five employed more regular employees. Typically more jobs are created over time. For example, the first nine ventures expect to employ between 30 and 60 marginalised individuals in two to five years. These nine ventures also created jobs for 15 marginalised individuals in other organisations via social partnerships.
Through our close and active partnership with VELUX FONDEN, we have created unique opportunities for new social enterprises in Denmark. The process has been explorative and dynamic creating new role models for social enterprises and new insights into the establishment of social enterprises.
The challenges of social enterprises obviously differ from one venture to the next. It is easier for existing businesses to achieve results by transforming into a social enterprise than it is for brand new social enterprises. Novice entrepreneurs need special attention, since they often do not have the commercial basis on which to build their social models.
More insights and tools are available in our publications (Danish only).
Contact Programme Director Birgitte Frost Mathiesen to learn more about our partnerships, expertise and results.
Birgitte is our Programme Director and responsible for our accelerator programmes. She has more than 20 years’ experience in developing and implementing strategies, with a particular understanding of how strategic goals translate into operations – and sales. Birgitte has worked with business development analysing and developing new market opportunities and business areas through partners, new products and new markets. She previously worked for Mercuri International, Sony Ericsson and TUC DEKRA and owned a consulting company. Birgitte is a member of the board of Frost & Nielsen A/S. She has a degree in Commercial Law and a Bachelor degree in International Business and Project Management.