Through an EU tender won by The Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment, we launched Det Sociale Vækstprogram accelerator in 2013 for the purpose of strengthening existing social enterprises through business development. Through this programme, companies have generated growth and employment, and we have accumulated experience of best practices and knowledge of the potential of social enterprises, their challenges and what can be done to support them.
Den Sociale Kapitalfond won the EU tender in collaboration with Symbion, the Centre for Social Economy and Cabi. The overall budget was DKK 23.2 million. We were on the steering committee, alongside our partners and representatives from Styrelsen for arbejdsmarked og rekruttering (Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment) and Erhvervsstyrelsen (the Danish Business Authority).
The goal of Det Sociale Vækstprogram is to strengthen the sustainability of existing social enterprises and thereby creating more jobs and progress for the marginalised groups in society. A secondary goal is to gather insights into how to effectively develop social enterprises.
Since 2013, the programme has had several hundred applicants, of which 32 were selected to undergo the full programme. The programme lasts for six months and includes individual negotiations; training in marketing, strategy and operations; camps and knowledge sharing with other participants; and the bridging of networks and other resources. The companies also have the opportunity to apply for a donation of DKK 100,000 for further development.
Criteria to participate in the programme are as follows: participants must have a social objective; be independent of the government in terms of management and operations; have untapped growth potential and competent management. Participating ventures typically focus on training, employing and strengthening the working capacity of marginalised groups, such as people with autism, people with disabilities and ex-offenders.
The programme was evaluated by Teknologisk Institut (the Danish Technological Institute). The Institute found high participant satisfaction across all groups on all counts (from content to facilities). We also evaluated on-going business growth and net job growth. Training placements totalled 281 (at 31 December 2015): 69 new jobs for the marginalised unemployed; 54 new standard jobs and 158 cases of progress and education for the marginalised unemployed. The job performance score was in line with or higher than that of other similar business support initiatives, including greenhouses and EU Structural Fund projects.
Within the framework of the EU tender and in cooperation with our partners, we have demonstrated how Danish social enterprises can become successful social and commercial businesses over a relatively short time. With our partners, we have acted primarily as a catalyst for 32 very different social enterprises. This has provided unique and nuanced insight into the typical problems and undiscovered opportunities in small to medium-sized social enterprises in Denmark. It has also given us in-depth experience of a wide range of development tools for measuring the social impacts of social business models.
If you would like to know more about our partnerships, insights and results, please contact our Programme Director Birgitte Frost Mathiesen.
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.