Social Entrepreneurship-field Swedish summit 2015

Release Date: 
October 30, 2015

Ekskäret, Sweden. October 19th -20th, 2015


Social Entrepreneurship – an engine for social change

A lot has happened with the social entrepreneurship field in Sweden over the last couple of years. Where do we stand today and how has the field evolved? How can we continue to build a market that enable continuous growth for social entrepreneurship and social innovation?

With basis in these questions, Ashoka Scandinavia, together with Ekskäret foundation, invited leaders from the Swedish Social Entrepreneurship-field to a 24-hours summit at the island Ekskäret outside Stockholm. The aim of the summit was to strengthen the network of players in the field, discuss challenges and opportunities and find common areas for future collaboration.


Outcomes and learnings

During the Summit, participants looked at the ecosystem in order to identify its challenges and opportunities. Historical milestones for field’s development were discussed. Some key take-aways from the summit were:


1.    Social entrepreneurs are important for finding solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time
These areas are regarded to be the most pressing societal challenges in Sweden at the moment:

• Integration

• Mental health

• Ageing population

• Including labor market

• Education system


2.    The field is still early stage but a lot is happening right now

In order to evaluate where the field stands today, a number of indicators should be considered, for example number of organizations active in the field, access to social finance, interest from academia and media, political awareness and policy support. It is considered important to quantify the sector moving forward.


3.    Key historical milestones moving the field forward

Over the past ten years, many important milestones have been helpful in moving field forward, among them:

2006 – New legal form Aktiebolag med Begränsad Vinstutdelning

2009-2011 – Establishment of numerous social entrepreneurship intermediaries as well as courses and initiatives about SE-field in academia and on policy level (e.g. social responsibility integrated in procurements, establishment of Innovationsrådet)

2012 – Many social entrepreneurs started to scale and grow (for example Mattecentrum), launch of Swedish Innovation Strategy

2013 – More academic institutions established, rise of number of talents wanting to work in the field.

2014 - Media influencers began to be more involved in the field.

2015 – Many ministers start to talk about social entrepreneurs, three social entrepreneurs in P1 Sommar, impact investment trend.


4.    The field of social entrepreneurship is still evolving

The field of social entrepreneurship in Sweden is still evolving. On a general level, the development of the social entrepreneurship field can be divided in to four steps;
1) Emergence/survival
2) Convergence/stability
3) Standardization/success
4) Integration/significance.
Sweden is considered to be placed somewhere in between step 2 and 3 (i.e. convergence/stability and standardization/success) indicating that we are still building the infrastructure for social entrepreneurship.


5.    The need for an holistic view of the sector – gaps to fill

If we want reach the level of standardization and eventually stabilization in Sweden, we need to get better at seeing the whole ecosystem in which social entrepreneurs operate and learn how to collaborate better to fill the current gaps in the support system.


6.    Key questions to consider when moving ahead

Some key questions to consider as a field when moving ahead: What is missing in order to create stability between supply and demand? How can we increase access to social capital? What is needed for the market/sector to be independent (also from subsidies)?


7.    A role for social entrepreneurs in new collaborative economy

The collaborative economy is an area developing at high speed and volume – with many exciting correlations to the SE-field. It is important to make sure to keep social impact in front of economic profit, if and when social entrepreneurs tap into this model.


8.    Leadership is crucial moving forward

Alongside the development of the social entrepreneurship field, it is equally important to create room for social intrapreneurs/innovation within traditional sectors (e.g. NGO’s and public authorities). Strong leadership is required for this to happen, with a high degree of empowerment to give space for innovations to occur. How the SE-field can support the fostering of this leadership is an important topic to consider moving forward.


9.    Involve the target group and experts in the conversations

One of the main challenges for the Social Entrepreneurship-field is the potential gap between the infrastructure building the field and the people it tries to target. Arranging strategic discussions and meeting points between the two can bridge this gap.


10. Continuous collaboration and ways to strengthen the field

Among the ideas for future collaboration and development of the SE-field, many ideas came up on how to proceed, among them:

-       Continue with quarterly meetings to update each other on ongoing and urgent matters (The SE-group that SI and Ashoka initiated 2 years ago).

-       Meet once to twice per year in a smaller group to discuss more long-term strategic questions (for example at Ekskäret)

-       Co-host a SE-field summit to introduce other sectors to the field

-       Continue discussion on how we can include gap between strategic/infrastructure level and the target group.

-       Empower more changemakers in the future, through sharing useful tools to support social entrepreneurs



Maja Frankel, Ashoka

Lina Cederlöf, Stiftelsen Ekskäret

Caroline Cederlöf, Social Initiative

Annabel Merkel, SE Forum

Alex Budak, Reach for Change

Tove Larsson, Inkludera Invest

Hanna Sigsjö, MSI

Camilla Backström, MSI

Henrik Storm Dyssen, Leksell social venture

Funda Sezgi, Impact Hub

Lena Lago, Fryshuset

Johanna Palmberg, Entreprenorskapsforum

Åsa Minoz, Expert sharing economy

Emma Lindgren, Program manager Ashoka