Impact Iceland 2016 seeks to make Iceland the next social entrepreneurship hub

Impact Iceland 2016 is crowdfunding Iceland’s first conference on social entrepreneurship on Karolina Fund.  It will be the first in a series of conferences in Iceland focusing on social innovation as a profitable, sustainable, and impactful response to today’s challenges. Tanja Wohlrab-Ryan writes at Startup Iceland about making Iceland not only a vibrant startup community, but a hub of social innovation and social entrepreneurship.

By Tanja Wohlrab-Ryan

Social innovation and entrepreneurship has exploded worldwide. Yet on our little island, we still have yet to get to grips with the concept. There are no official channels for social entrepreneurs and for the most part people do not even know what social entrepreneurship is. We have social entrepreneurs in Iceland in varying degrees, and we have a tremendous creative force that can truly impact social innovations. But not only impact innovations in Iceland, but we have the potential for ground breaking solutions to emerge here to shift society from its current state to one that is actively addressing the future global challenges we foresee. This is my vision for Iceland and the social innovation and social entrepreneurship sector here.

Why do we need a conference specifically focused on social innovation and social entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurship has been around for decades, and worldwide it is growing exponentially with specific incubator and accelerator programs, grant funding, university courses, impact investors, support from governments through laws and tax incentives. And why is there so much support? Because there is a clear understanding that if we truly want to change, or make a difference for our future, we need entrepreneurial solutions to systems problems. It´s a systematic change from the grassroots.

And that is why we are holding the Impact Iceland conference. It´s a pretty bold move for a subject matter that very few know about in Iceland. The conference aims to bringing together the minds of the business community: the start-up entrepreneurs (and those that are working on it) and the companies who are already focused on corporate social responsibility (CSR) with educators and municipality officials to really discover and uncover how social entrepreneurship can truly benefit all sectors here in Iceland.

Social entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurs focus first and foremost on making impact, a change to society. But not just adding value to their stakeholders, where their lives are made easier or simpler through the product or service but more so have directly impacted upon the improvement of their health, welfare and/or the environment.

One of the most famous social entrepreneurs is Muhammad Yunus the founder of the Grameen Group, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Ashoka member. He is known as the father of micro financing and the social business model. The Grameen Bank and the social business model began when in 1976, when Muhammad lent start-up loans totalling $27 to 42 women , where they could make items for sale without the high interests that came with the loan sharks. Not only did he prove that when women are given the economic freedom to support their families they would be excellent creditors, but that this model could progressively reduce the wide spread poverty of Bangladesh. Grameen bank alone operates in 2565 locations, has 22149 employees and Revenues of 176,67 million USD (stats from 2010 / 2011). The Grameen family group now has an impressive 21 companies ranging from funds, telecoms, software, textiles, green products and food all based on the social business model.

There are various other famous social entrepreneurs I could write about, but to keep things short I will list a few here:

Bill Drayton of Ashoka

Blake Mycoskie of TOMS shoes

Xavier Helgesen, Chris Fuchs, and Jeff Kurtzman of Better world books

John Bird  creator of the Big Issue

Jamie Oliver of Fifteen Restaurant

Why should you attend the Impact Iceland conference?

You will be joining and meeting like-minded people who believe in the power of social innovation and entrepreneurship as a force for good in Iceland. You will be part of the start of something truly revolutionary. It is your chance to be a part of the movement of using social entrepreneurship as a force for positive change. It is your way to get involved and make an impact.

For Social innovators / intrapreneurs / entrepreneurs: You get it. You know social entrepreneurship is the future. You get that all businesses in the future will in some shape or form be a social enterprise. We want to help you achieve that future. Impact Iceland is for you, to meet partners, other like-minded social entrepreneurs, potential investors, understand your support network and let your voices be heard.

Socially responsible companies: You have committed to implementing CSR in your business. We applaud you. Impact Iceland 2016 is for you, because you are constantly thinking how you can make more impact in society because you believe your company is a responsible citizen. We can help you achieve this by attending Impact Iceland 2016, you will meet potential partners in the social entrepreneurs. It’s a marketplace for new projects that you could support with your CSR initiatives. Creating a win-win-win.


This article was originally posted on Startup Iceland.


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