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Finnish Changemakers – who are they and what connects them?

This article originally appeared on Sitra.


The time for implementing the UN Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals is now. To implement the SDGs and establish truly sustainable societies we need transformative change. And this change requires someone who drives it, someone who makes change happen. A changemaker. The Social Innovation Index, published by The Economist in 2016 shows that Finland fares well when the ability of society to produce innovation is measured. Finland and the other Nordic countries get a special mention for the strong welfare state and for active civic engagement. However, Finland fares less well when social entrepreneurship is measured.


At Sitra we’ve often thought about how important it would be to take a closer look at the capacity for change in society, as well as the needs and wishes of changemakers. Which is why we really believe a comprehensive mapping of changemakers in Finland is needed!


The mapping Ashoka is doing at the moment is welcome, because it doesn’t focus simply on structures or trends but really zooms in on the people behind the trends – the changemakers themselves. This mapping, which uses both interviews and questionnaires, is well placed to give us a better picture of who these changemakers are and what needs they have. The snowball methodology that is used is also welcome, as it increases the diversity of people represented.


At Sitra we love the term changemaker. But at the same time we hate it. We love it because it includes everyone and doesn’t set boundaries – it gives everyone the possibility to be part of the change regardless of background or position. Then again, we hate it because “everyone” is a difficult stakeholder group to approach.


Because of this, we can’t wait to see the results of the mapping and being able to better answer the questions we receive about changemakers in Finland. It is already clear that changemakers don’t necessarily sit in a corner office enjoying the view – they can be found in start ups, classrooms, legal firms, public offices or among association activists. The way we perceive changemakers has broadened significantly in the past few years, and we no longer think of changemaking as an elite phenomenon. We hope that the mapping will further add to the understanding of how diverse and rich the field of changemakers is and contribute to a better, more informed discussion on changemaking. We also believe the mapping will help to chart the challenges and obstacles that changemakers face.



We can already see that the participating changemakers wish for increased collaboration in the field, and we believe that mapping the broad range of changemakers active in Finland can support networking and will help to identify collaboration opportunities. Ideally, the mapping will also motivate and give a sense of security by demonstrating that there are others who are dealing with the same challenges and questions. Perhaps the mapping can even encourage more people to become changemakers themselves.


Next spring we will have the map of Finnish changemakers before us and all the results that came out of it. After that it’s time to learn to read the map. We promise that together with Ashoka we will bring together everyone who participated in the mapping, to discuss what comes next and what concrete measures we can take based on the data at hand.


Are you equally curious like us to know better about how the field of social entrepreneurship, Young Changemakers and joint changemaker initiatives looks like? Learn more about this initiative and nominate a candidate by filling in this form.

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