Spotlight: Kai Hockerts

Kai Hockerts

What drives you?

I always knew I wanted to solve social problems. I want to empower more people to understand what social entrepreneurship is so that more of them consider it a path and try it out. Those who do I want to enable to do it more successfully. It’s important to me to change their view from ‘I’m not Yunus, not a Nobel Peace Prize winner’ to ‘I can, and I will do it.’ I want awareness to lead to activities.

Biggest SocEnt trend you have seen in the last 5 years?

This year the government introduced a registration mark for social entrepreneurs. As a consequence, public institutions have started showing an interest, which in turn has lead other social economy institutions to use “social economic enterprise” – the Danish term for social Enterprise. More and more organizations jump on board with the concept, but we haven’t really agreed on a definition.

Background

After pursuing his graduate studies in Germany, Kai got his Ph.D. in Management at the University of St Gallen before joining INSEAD Business School as Adjunct and Copenhagen Business School as Professor in Social Entrepreneurship. Among other positions he has worked as a consultant for environmental sustainability and as research assistant in Germany and the UK. Kai’s research in the field has focused on the intentions and behaviors of social entrepreneurs. Follow his blog to learn more.

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Copenhagen Business School

In June 2015, I was in Copenhagen for the Global Business Ethics Symposium. While in town, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to talk to Kai Hockerts at Copenhagen Business School. Denmark, and Scandinavian countries in general, have a strong reputation when it comes to corporate sustainability and, increasingly, social entrepreneurship. I had met Kai at the 2014 Academy of Management Annual Conference, had audited their MOOC on social entrepreneurship, and was eager to learn more about Kai’s work in Copenhagen.

For an hour and a half we sat in this office and I peppered him with questions about the MOOC and course offering for students at CBS. We started off on the topic of effective social enterprise support: “What we need most at the moment is a pool of managers that bring the experience and skills needed to run social enterprises. We have many people in the social sector but they often lack the entrepreneurial skills to run a business. As a founder, you are accountable to your team, beneficiaries/customers, and investors. A good support program should focus on the personal leadership more so than on technical skills to enable the entrepreneur to deal with this responsibility.”

Entrance to Copenhagen Business School

Entrance to Copenhagen Business School

At Copenhagen Business School, any student – even the ones on exchange from abroad – can take electives in social entrepreneurship. They currently teach one elective to undergraduate students and three to graduate students. “A semester would typically cover an introduction to social entrepreneurship before we dive into case-based discussions around identifying an opportunity, launching and growing the business, and assessing social impact. Our studio with its breakout rooms give students a great space to brainstorm, work on their projects and prototype. Another format we are offering is our one-day innovation camp where businesses (e.g., Novartis), foundations (e.g. Mary Foundation) or nonprofits (e.g. Impact Hub) present a social innovation challenge for students to develop solutions for.”

As far as the MOOC goes, Kai says: ”We have run it twice now and have learned a lot in the process. It is a challenge to keep people engaged for 12 weeks at a time. That said, I have been really impressed with the ones who stuck to it and really used it as a blueprint for turning their ideas for social enterprises into reality.”  

For Kai, one of the most intriguing questions revolves around increasing interest and capacities for aspiring social entrepreneurs: “I wonder if we attract students who have an interest in social entrepreneurship in particular, or if more students start social enterprises because they have taken one of the courses. There has certainly been a growing interest in the field in the student body.” And sure enough, one of the teams that started out at CBS is Ruby Cup, a social business that provides menstrual cups to young women in Africa through a buy-one-give-one approach in Western markets.

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Spotlight: Lars Johansen

Lars Johansen

What drives you?

To make a difference. I have always been socially inclined and concerned about marginalization in our society. It was so obvious, someone had to do something. And sometimes that someone can be you. When I first started out, I realized how many other people were interested in the same issues, and in addressing them. Suddenly it seemed feasible. Today, it is fantastic to work with such competent and brilliant colleagues as I do at Den Sociale Kapitalfond.

Biggest SocEnt trend you have seen in the last 5 years?

Social entrepreneurship has been placed on the public agenda. Legislators are working on a legal form, we have support organizations like Den Sociale Kapitalfond, and the National Center for Social Enterprises.

Background

Lars Jannick Johansen is CEO and Board Member of Den Sociale Kapitalfond (The Social Capital Fund) – Denmark’s first social venture fund and accelerator, investing capital and competencies in social entrepreneurs and inclusive growth companies improving opportunities for marginalized groups in Denmark. Prior to the fund’s establishment in 2011, he was Director of Monday Morning, Scandinavia’s largest independent think tank, and Development Director at INDEX: Design To Improve Life®, among others. He is a Board Member at All Ears Telemarketing and Specialisterne, member of the Danish government’s Council for Social Enterprises, and Advisory Board Member for MindLab, the cross-ministerial innovation unit of the Danish government, as well as for the Institute of Sociology at the University of Copenhagen, among others. Lars is MA in Political Science from the University of Copenhagen and MA (distinction) in Central & East European Studies from University College London, with executive education from the Wharton Business School and Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. He is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum from 2013.

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Spotlight: Maria Petersen

Maria long

What drives you?

The social aspect of my work is a huge motivation, working with conventional startups just wouldn’t be the same. I couldn’t imagine having a job, that didn’t have some sort of social purpose.

Biggest SocEnt trend you have seen in the last 5 years?

Social entrepreneurship is becoming increasingly popular. With every round we receive more applications for our Social Startup Program. There is great demand to create jobs for marginalized communities in Denmark, social entrepreneurs provide them.

Currently reading

Liberty, by Jakob Ejersbo

Background

“I have a humanistic background in Religious and Middle Eastern studies. At the Danish Refugee Council, I worked with children’s rights in Myanmar and community driven development in the third world. In June 2014 I joined Den Sociale Kapitalfond.”

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Den Sociale Kapitalfond

As I was getting ready for my visit to Denmark, I reached out to Den Sociale Kapitalfond, recommended to me by Kai Hockerts, professor at Copenhagen Business School. Maria Fester Petersen, program manager at Den Sociale Kapitalfond, invited me to stop by their bootcamp and see their social entrepreneurs at work. In between, I had a chance to talk to her and CEO and co-founder Lars Jannick Johansen.

The location was a thirty minute walk from Frederiksberg and for the first time in Copenhagen I came across some of the more diverse neighborhoods near the main train station. The bootcamp itself took place in a massive 2nd floor space in a conference center – and the space was much needed. As Maria explained, her team had spent the previous two weeks interviewing over 80 out of 100 startup teams and social entrepreneurs that had applied to join Den Sociale Kapitalfond. The day I visited, they had narrowed that selection down to 31: 10 teams that had applied to their Social Growth program, and 21 who wanted to join their Social StartUp program. The idea of the bootcamp was to support them in developing their business models and refine their concepts until pitch night the week after. At pitch night, the team would select four startups to join the Social StartUp program (early stage) and five for the Social Growth program (advanced: growth and post-revenue stage). Everywhere I looked I saw mentors and teams hunched over post-its or wildly articulating in front of their social business model canvases. This place had energy!

Den Sociale Kapitalfond - bootcamp

Den Sociale Kapitalfond – bootcamp

Lars Jannick Johansen founded Den Sociale Kapitalfond three years ago and told me: “At the beginning, it was just an idea I had. But the more I talked about it, I noticed that others had had the same idea. It came down to someone having to turn this idea into reality. Having spoken to so many people who shared my attitude, it suddenly seemed feasible. That someone was me.” Both programs today accelerate social enterprises that focus on employment generation for marginalized communities: people who are excluded from the labor market due to their physical, mental or social disability. With two cohorts per year until 2016, the Social Startup and Social Growth Program will support 20 and 32 social business respectively.

Social Startup Program: Turning concepts into viable business models

In each selection process, social enterprises who make it to the second round are invited to join a one-month long bootcamp. Bootcamp itself kicks off with a two-day workshop during which participants present their ventures. They receive training in prioritizing their areas of concern, developing a solid business model and designing their pitch. Throughout this first bootcamp month, they learn how to use the Social Business Model Canvas and apply the Lean Startup approach. At pitch night at the end of that first month, four to five teams are selected to join the five-months accelerator. Each team works with a dedicated business developer (from Den Sociale Kaptitalfond), receives training and mentoring through camps and labs, and benefits from the network that the team around Lars Johansen has built up: They match their startups with anyone from local government representative to lawyer or accountant to angel investor. Based on startups’ performance and need, Den Sociale Kapitalfond has the opportunity to invest (up to three million kroner/year) and will work with the most promising startups for another year after program end through mentoring and possible further investment.

Social Growth Program: Scaling established social enterprises

Working with advanced social enterprises (post-revenue and growth stage), also the Social Growth Program works with participants through a dedicated business developer, training labs and camps, as well as professional advice from mentors, funding and network access. In both programs, labs and camps take place three times each and support startup teams individually in developing their business skills, project management, their social model, marketing and operations. Inputs are provided by their business developers as well as external experts and mentors.

Bootcamp participants during an outdoor peer session

Bootcamp participants during an outdoor peer session

Social Enterprise Support in Denmark

I ask Lars where their applicants come from and he outlines:”The pool of usual social enterprise suspects is pretty small in Denmark, so we went beyond the impact space and started talking to small and medium sized companies. The term social enterprise met many blank faces, but once we started talking about local business that works consciously and responsibly, we found that many of the entrepreneurs were already or willing to live up to these standards.” And even this is starting to change, I noticed when we talked about emerging social enterprise trends in Denmark: “Over the last years, social enterprise has been put on the public agenda. Suddenly we have a National Center for Social Enterprise, legislators are developing a legal form suitable for social enterprise, we have more capacity-building organizations and investment funds such as our Social Capital fund. Things are shaping up.”

Den Sociale Kapitalfond and Social StartUp are funded by charitable donations and government tender funds the Social Growth Program.

One of the big questions – as for many support organizations – will emerge as the end of the funding cycle draws closer in 2016: How to fund an accelerator such as Den Sociale Kapitalfond? Taking equity may be one stream of income but the nature of their enterprises is not necessarily characterized by high growth (if we compare it with tech-oriented accelerators such as Bethnal Green). I think a hybrid financial model that includes philanthropic capital and government tenders is highly likely – and why not? Employment generation for disadvantaged unemployed takes a burden off municipalities and that is a service worth paying for.

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