Social responsibility in business
Why is it that a “hard core” industrial-and financial company like Ferd spends 20 mill NOK a year on supporting Social entrepreneurship?
In order to learn more I visited Ferd before the summer and had a long talk with Øyvind Sandvold (@oyvind_sandvold ) about the work Ferd is doing. What they support and what is outside their scope. You can read more about it HERE
I think the short answer is because they can! They have the assets and also valuable knowledge to share. Of course the element of charity is there.
But to my surprise Øyvind told me about another aspect: That there is a great “return of investment” for the Ferd company and the employees. Every project they support includes that one of the investments consultants (from the other investment funds) take part in the project as a board member, consult the Social entrepreneur and ensure that strategy, business plans and company start up secure the social business and its objective, and also has a growth plan. Øyvind tells me that these projects have become some of the most attractive assignment the employees can get involved in. They learn a lot, make great friends with people in the projects and experience that it’s very meaningful to provide their knowledge and to support social change. The most important part however is that Ferd as a company gets valuable knowledge in return.
Interesting enough: The Ferd social entrepreneurs has yet not received one application for a digital project!
Most people in Norway know of the company Kavli. The Kavli Group is one of Norway’s largest and most international food groups, with some 800 employees creating a turnover of about NOK 2 billion. The companies produce goods for more than 20 countries. Maybe fewer people are aware of the fact that the profit from all Kavli products is channeled back to society, via the the Kavli Trust? They mainly donate money and focus on advanced science research, cultural activities and humanitarian work both in Norway and international.
Kavli has supported a great range of projects since 1962 and it’s interesting to note this project: Barnevakten.no (Kids and Media). The organization has acquired a global reach with backing from the Kavli Trust. It is now a big operation with various web-based activities in the USA, the UK, Australia and Denmark as well as in Norway.
Bien Bank (@BienSparebank)
Bien bank is a small bank and the only local bank in Oslo. It used to be a savings bank owned by the customers, and is now owned by a trust. In the same manner as Kavli, Bien banks profit is channeled back to the population of Oslo by supporting informational and educational activities towards children and youth, art and cultural projects and community initiatives.
Bien tells me that they are looking into digital projects as we speak.
In addition to these few examples, we all know of the wide range of classical charity organizations, aid organizations and government’s engagements of all sorts.
As we see social responsibility is not at all a new idea. Our western democracies are built upon such ideas. What I believe we will se in the coming years (and why I write about it) is new and innovative initiatives, more and more of them will be digital. And more and more of them will have elements of what Ferd has implemented: In short – funding and expert help towards Self supported and sustainable social entrepreneurs.
We will se “niche” projects from groups that want to take part in changing a business, like Spot.us that says this about themselves: “Spot.Us is an open source project to pioneer community powered reporting.”… (spot.us red) “provides a new opportunity to expand the impact of public media journalism by making it more responsive and responsible to the public, while deploying new ways to support freelance reporters and the newsrooms that depend on them.”
As a warning: We will also see fraud! Solutions created only to enrich criminals, like the warning states in this article in e24 concerning the risk of scandals and fraud in crowdfunding
But should we let the risk of criminal acts from a few, stop the actions from millions of people and thousands of companies around the world that genuinely want to help and improve the world we live in?