Impact Accelerator: boosting growth and social impact in the well-being sector
A new Sitra training programme is helping others make a difference to society.
Sitra’s Impact Accelerator programme is directed at companies and organisations solving various well-being challenges in Finland, including the marginalisation of young people, self-care for the elderly and the integration of immigrants into Finnish society. The goal of the Impact Accelerator is to boost the participants’ capacity to develop more effective services, as well as a sustainable and investment-ready (business) model. Ten service providers committed to making a social impact were selected for the first Impact Accelerator programme, which began on Monday 12 October 2015.
The fiscal crisis affecting the state and local authorities is reducing the availability of public services and resources, creating an ever-greater need for effective services. Savings affecting public campaigns and preventive care are particularly worrying – in many cases, the resulting problems and costs will only take a few years to accumulate.
“We need to step up co-operation between the public, private and third sectors and engage private investors if we want to improve the well-being of Finns,” says Director Timo Lindholm of Sitra’s theme area, New working life and sustainable economy. “One way to do this would be through impact investing, a model where private equity is used to fund activities aimed at achieving both a social impact and a financial return.”
Maximising the impact – building bridges with investors
“The Impact Accelerator programme is aimed at supporting companies and organisations in the well-being sector where their social impact can be measured and verified. The goal is to maximise the capacity to have a social impact,” says Advisor Heidi Humala, who is in charge of the training programme at Sitra.
Sitra is organising three consecutive Impact Accelerator programmes, the first of which took place on 12 October. The programme participants were selected on the basis of Sitra’s call for ideas and various competitions recently organised by its partners. The participants are AtCare, Elffe, Innokampus, Kuka, Merikratos, Ohjaamo Tilke, Palveluksessa, Protekto, Team Planet and Walter. (See below for further details on the participants.)
Each accelerator programme lasts around three months. Ten well-being sector operators aiming for a social impact (companies or organisations) will be selected for each programme. The core focus of the training and one-to-one mentoring will be on modelling and measuring impact, creating a viable business logic and thereby strengthening the capacity to secure funding.
“Another key target group for us comprises investors interested in having a social impact. We will act as a bridge-builder, helping investors to identify and take advantage of impact-investment opportunities. The goal for this co-operation is to generate some real-life investments,” says Humala.
The parties responsible for the training content and mentoring are Demos & Reaktor, Owal Group, Ramboll and Suomen Säätiötilipalvelu.
Supporting the emergence of impact-investing markets
The training programme is part of Sitra’s work towards building an impact-investing ecosystem in Finland. Impact investing, which is continually increasing in popularity across the world, is a new form of investment and operating model aimed at achieving a positive and large-scale social impact, as well as a financial return. The concept covers a range of debt-based and equity-based financial instruments. The related approach is particularly suitable for activities aimed at promoting well-being and preventive action. Within the public sector, impact investing can be used to make the transition from service purchases to a performance-based purchasing model.
“The Impact Accelerator programme is supporting the emergence of an impact-investing market in Finland. At the same time, the new purchasing model’s potential is being tested among well-being sector operators and within Finnish society in general,” says Humala.
The content of the two Impact Accelerator programmes planned for next year will be developed on the basis of feedback and experiences from the first programme. Participants will be selected through an application process. An application form and instructions on how to apply will be posted on Sitra’s website in December.
Companies and organisations participating in the first Impact Accelerator programme
- Improves the availability of mental health services through its VapaatAjat.fi online service
- Young amateur musicians bring joy to senior citizens by providing them with opportunities to enjoy music and helping them with everyday tasks
- An action and support network, which activates students to come up with ideas, productise inventions and find new ways of securing a study place, a trainee position or a job
- Improves the quality of data exchange and enables the inclusion of additional voices to the social discussion using a database of experts developed for media use
- Services for families that are struggling to find the right direction in life, and leadership support for organisations operating in tough conditions
- Activities for children and young people, ranging from one-day workshops to longer-term courses, combining creative and therapeutic art-based methods with play and the world of children
- Care and housing services for older people and individuals with special needs
- Structured methods designed to strengthen child welfare processes and increase the inclusion and consultation of clients
- Extra-curricular activities and expertise that benefit children and young people
- Promotes interaction between cultures in Finland, especially among children and young people