June 27, 2017

Interview with Katinka Greve Leiner, Director of Ferd Social Entrepreneurs and EVPA Board Member

Katinka Greve Leiner, Director of Ferd Social Entrepreneurs and EVPA Board Member 


What are the most challenging needs in Norway at this moment?

I see a lot of good innovative ideas for social innovation that are not getting funding. But also we see some new investors coming in. The challenge is that is too slow. We need more actors on this stage. We see solutions, especially local solutions that remain a secret. Organisations do not have the time or the money to spread the word. Very often resources go to a project, and not towards building the capacity of an organisation. We need different tools to spread the best solutions and communicate more. I think this also applies in other countries in Europe.

How do you think the VP/SI approach can contribute to build solutions?

I think the organisations and people in this sector are willing to take risks. They want to invest in early stage ideas. As investors we are intermediates. Most organisations are nervous to take risks with governmental money. The resources that the venture philanthropy and social investment (VP/SI) approach brings can fill this innovative gap. It gives room to develop their idea and put it out on the market, and give it time to flourish. Also, other actors can take on the idea and make it more sustainable.

How has FERD contributed to the development of the VP/SI sector?

We have been out there for the last 9 years trying to build the market for social entrepreneurs. Ferd has been communicating about the importance of social entrepreneurs, of new ideas, of giving room to experiment,  money and guidance. We are working with the municipalities to get to know social entrepreneurs, and the solutions they propose. Social entrepreneurs are about innovation. They come with new ideas that the public sector can pick up and use. 

We invest in these ideas by giving the company annual grants of around 100.000 euro for a period of 3-6 years, and follow them closely. One colleague from Ferd takes a board position, and in addition our team guides them and supports their business development and eventually scaling.

How do you see/wish the sector to evolve in the Nordics in the next years?

I wish and I think we will see more investors, more foundations coming in, wanting to create added value, and to co-invest in projects with the public sector. Also, I think we need a new type of investors which has as scope the with long term social impact. And with the possibility and flexibility to co-invest with others, both public and private, to achieve a long term goal.

In Norway we see a lot of family owned companies that are leading this. They often have as core values the patience to span results across generations and are used to taking business risks. In addition, we see different foundations and funds looking at and trying out tools for financing social impact.

What is the connection between FERD and EVPA?

We joined EVPA very soon after we were founded. The motivation behind was to meet like-minded investors, to learn more from other practitioners and to have a benchmark for our ideas, as in Norway we were the first ones pioneering the sector. Also, I joined the board of EVPA almost 5 years ago and have learnt a lot from my colleagues in the VP sector.

How will the EVPA Annual Conference contribute the development of the sector in the next years?

My hope is that the conference will show the Norwegian actors that a lot of good things are happening in other countries in Europe and bring some new ideas and ways of working together. Also, we will see at the conference a lot of innovative initiatives that are happening in Norway.  

When participants leave the conference, I hope they will really feel the power of a community wanting to achieve social innovation. They go home and they feel we are all actually making a difference, and we are inspired to do more good things.

 Why did you decide to support the conference?

We are using the conference as it is an important tool to create awareness, gather the right people around and see how we can better work together and inspire each other. Also, we are not doing this alone. We have partnered with other actors that want to build this area further: investors, foundations, and Oslo municipality.

Why should anybody attend the conference?

One should attend the conference to share their ambitions, to learn from others and grow their impact even more. We need to be impatient as investors to create as much impact as we are able to with our resources. And I am really convinced we have untapped resources when it comes to working together on innovative projects and solutions.

 You have been to many other EVPA Annual Conferences. What is the moment that made a difference for you during one of the last editions?

During one of the conferences, three pairs investor – investee presented their solutions on stage. I understood then why it is import to offer the type of support VP/SI stands for. I really experienced that for me as an investor it is crucial to make good ideas happen. It is a fantastic opportunity!

Find out more details about the Annual Conference here.

Annual Conference 2017

Contact for more info

Ioana Traista , Communications and Partnerships Manager

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