We started this network of social entrepreneurs in 2008 at the city of Notodden. Thirteen women showed up. I think the pioneer phase is over, where we did a lot of activities for 6 years in order to put the theme on the public agenda. After 6 years the politicians and the government integrated it in their political platform, and public funding was put on the budget. I considered myself as one of the driving forces for the social entrepreneurs at this phase, because I knew how to get in dialog with all the political parties at the Parliament and involve the entrepreneurs. ( Done that before with women entrepreneurship in 2005 ). A political hacker. And how to promote and marketing it. But most important, I made a decision to do it.
Now we are in a more consolidating phase where some new actors are coming into the ring; The researchers and the Universities now see that there is an opportunity to make some business out of a new field. I don´t think they are the most important ones that will contribute to the expanding of the field. They are not the innovators, but mostly followers that are seeking opportunities to make money. Because I think there is a lot of competition in the survival of the big institutions, and they all try to make money on something. Their structure is not open for innovation, so mostly they will consolidate and bring some kind of analyzes into the field, perhaps some educational training. The status bores me a bit, because nothing new is really happening in this field at the moment. But I think it is the dynamic in how processes are developing.
The real innovators are the small social entrepreneurs that are working on the ground, very close with the target groups. That are taking risks to follow their vision and organizing their work in a business frame, and have committed themselves on a long term to be sustainable. For ordinary entrepreneurs they say it takes 3 - 5 years to be sustainable. For social entrepreneurs I think you have to stay in the process for nearly 7 - 10 years.
And they want to change the structures. To come up with something better. for people. If you are going to make results, you have to see your work in a long term perspective. It is the ones who have overcome the Valley of Death, and have been able to get on despite the obstacles that comes with being out of your comfort zone and in a field that is combining social and business.
I think that the image of "the tiny seed that in order to grow, it needed to be dropped in dirt, covered in darkness, and struggle to reach the light", is a beautiful image of the process. And the process must come from inside. And you have to release your creativity which is your imagination. To make the invisible visible. To make the impossible possible. And you have to work in a cross over field, combining a lot of skills from different areas. And build up a network.
Personal development is fundamental for being a social entrepreneur, because everything is related from your inner dreams. Connected to your heart. At the moment there are few of them in Norway, because they have not been able to work in a decade. Most of them are Start Ups.
I want to contribute to change the way Public Aid in Norway is throwing away a lot of money, and those at the bottom of the pyramid never see a dollar, never get any help. The Trickle Down effect does things worse. It undermines the belief that some individuals actually are able to empower poor people by helping them to help themselves.