This is a quote from Pippi Longstocking, perhaps the most famous character created by the much beloved Astrid Lindgren. Today, Tuesday 8 October, we gather our Nordic Ashoka community at Junibacken to celebrate the first eight years as a community.
To try something that has never been done before, and to create change due to our ability to imagine and see something that is yet not existing. This is typical for many social entrepreneurs and Changemakers. Pippi, the rebellious Changemaker, is a fearless and independent young woman who stands confident in her values and character. She is the strongest person in the world and challenges conventional gender roles and inspires young girls and boys to be strong and confident individuals, and to act as Changemakers. Pippi embodies in so many forms and shapes what Ashoka is all about; supporting and bringing forward system-change Changemakers. If Pippi was a real person, and alive today, there is a high likelihood that she would be part of the Nordic Changemaking community.
Eight years ago, I got a call from Ashoka that wanted to meet me for a conversation as a part of Ashoka's process in the search for new Fellows in Scandinavia. As many entrepreneurs I didn’t think I had time to meet them. I didn’t have a second to spare since we were in the middle of an intense scaling period with my social business. Luckily, I meet Ashoka staff and learned about the world-wide work of Ashoka, and also about social entrepreneurship. Finally, I had a profession I could relate to, social entrepreneurship. It was explained to me as "someone that identifies a societal challenge and have a new innovative solution to tackle it, and measure their success in how much impact they had when solving the problem". After many years of struggling, trying to come up with our own ways to measure our impact, there was suddenly an organization that already had a methodology for that, and knew exactly what I was doing and the challenges I was facing. I felt like at home.
After many long conversations we decided that I was going to start Ashoka in Scandinavia. With the mission to find and support leading social entrepreneurs – Fellows – in the Nordic region as well as trying to inspire more people to act for positive change.
Since Ashoka started in Scandinavia back in 2011, a lot has happened with the field of social entrepreneurship. From being an early stage market, we have seen a growing interest in the field and an understanding that we need new ways of solving the challenges we see in society. Social entrepreneurs are often either in the target group themselves or developing a solution together with the target group. For me it’s a way to move the power to those who really knows what needs to be done. In 2015 when many refugees came to the Nordics, we felt that we as a field were recognized. Social entrepreneurs with already existing solutions for inclusion could step in and take action, contributing to inclusion with already proven solutions. It wasn’t long after this that the Swedish government created its first strategy for social innovation, and we as intermediaries where give an important role to build the ecosystem.
We can also see that the number of actors in the field are raising interest in the academic world, as well as in available social investments. Nowadays, we don’t need to start every conversation with how we define social entrepreneurship, and why its relevant in the Nordic region. We feel that the interest is huge and that social entrepreneurs and Changemakers are having more and more arenas to influence others and contribute to ideas that serves the good of all.
With that said, we still have a lot to do. The Nordic landscape hasn't changed in a direction that is altogether positive over the past few years. We see a large number of people in society being left out of the system. They do not possess the skills to be a part of an equal job market and today’s rapidly shifting reality. At the same time, we know that this is key. According to a report published in 2017 by Dell Technologies, 85 percent of jobs in 2030 haven’t been invented yet (Fallender, Fellow Survey 2018).
How would the world in which you live in look like if everyone were equipped to act and adapt with change? That is what we would like to explore further in the Nordic region.
What are we going to do now?" asked Tommy.
"I don't know what you are going to do," said Pippi, "but I know I can't lie around and be lazy. I am a Thing-Finder, and when you're a Thing-Finder you don't have a minute to spare."
As an entrepreneurial and Changemaking community, we are all “Thing-Finders”. We need to find new and more innovative ways to solve complex problems in society. We know that many solutions that will change people’s lives and transform the way we think, will come from the field of social entrepreneurship and Changemaking. Therefore, none of us have a minute to spare.
Founder of Ashoka in the Nordics