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Reach for Change

Creating a world where all children reach their full potential

Ten years ago, social entrepreneurship was an unknown concept in Sweden. As one of the pioneers in the field, Reach for Change has not only paved a way for innovations that create better conditions for children, but has also changed the idea of how societal change can happen. Sofia Breitholtz, the CEO of the organization, is looking forward to the next leg of the journey.

Reach for Change is a non-profit foundation that was founded by the companies in the Kinnevik group. Reach for Change finds and supports social entrepreneurs who improve the lives of children. Through coaching, networks, and financial grants, the entrepreneurs get support to grow their operations and make as big an impact as possible for as many children as possible.

“Seeking: Entrepreneur with social skills” was the headline in Metro January 12th, 2010. It was the first news article about what would later become Reach for Change.

We will leave it unsaid if the newspaper headline on the previous page was an intentional play on words or a misunderstanding of the term. But it is clear that social entrepreneurship – the idea to use entrepreneurship, innovation, and business practices, to solve societal problems – was essentially unknown at the time. According to a national survey from the year before, only 17% of the Swedish population had even heard the term before (a few years later the number had increased to 44%). But the concept being unknown did not mean that there were no social entrepreneurs out there. Within a few weeks, close to 2,000 people had applied to join the first incubator program of Reach for Change. Ten of them were selected to receive professional coaching and support to implement their ideas. This was the start of the first large-scale initiative to support social entrepreneurs in Sweden. Let us jump ahead ten years. Tech-billionaires and politicians are competing to embrace social entrepreneurships and the idea to combine social good with business practices is a given. The first entrepreneurs who were selected by Reach for Change have become role models in a growing movement of social entrepreneurs in Sweden. During the same time, Reach for Change has grown far beyond the country’s borders and has contributed to establishing social entrepreneurship in countries like Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Russia, and DR Congo.

“I am especially proud that we have dared to invest in entrepreneurs who have been in an early phase of their journey, who have often had to fight all alone. That we have helped them turn their commitment and ideas into tangible change for vulnerable children. From unaccompanied refugee minors who have found Swedish friends, to Swedish municipalities who have started working more actively to support the most vulnerable children, to more transformative change in gender equality and sexual consent”, says Sofia Breitholtz, CEO of Reach for Change.

“Seeking: Entrepreneur with social skills” was the headline in Metro January 12th, 2010. It was the first news article about what would later become Reach for Change.

Core

1. Ida Östensson, Make Equal. Make Equal's vision is an equal and inclusive society. With hands-on methods, they help organizations to reach and include target groups that they struggle to reach.

2. Johan Wendt, Mattecentrum. Mattecentrum (Math Center) offers free of cost help in math through their open math sessions and the online tool matteboken.se.

3. John Laselle Löparakademin. Löparakademin (the Running Academy) helps young people who live in the projects of Stockholm to set up and reach personal goals through long-distance running.

4. AnneSofie Blixt, TILIA. Tilia works for and with young people between the ages 12 and 30 with mental health problems. Through prevention, support, and advocacy, they create a sense of security and hope.

5. Rosie Linder, Peppy Pals. Peppy Pals is a mobile EQ game that teaches children about friendship, emotions, and empathy in order to prevent bullying and social exclusion.

6. Gita Rajan, Wonsa. Wonsa works to create a world free from sexual abuse. This is done through a specialized clinic and through research and training programs.

7. Elin Lutke & Jailton Carneiro, CIRKUS UNIK. Cirkus Unik combines social entrepreneurship and contemporary circus to create social inclusion, sense of security, and opportunities for growth for children and youth in Sweden.

8. Sandra Kinnaman Nordström , The Good Talents. The Good Talents is a leadership and social entrepreneurship program for youth. As of 2017, they have a special focus on unaccompanied minors and newly arrived youth. The program aims to give young people the knowledge, tools, and network needed to participate in the local community and enter the job market.

9. Amir Sajadi & Milad Mohammadi, Järvaskolan. Järvaskolan (The Järva School) works to create a school where each student is inspired to limitless dreams and motivated to continue their studies.

10. Shanga Aziz & Rogerio Silva, Locker Room Talk. Locker Room Talk offers training, tools, and platforms for young guys and adults, making it easy to talk about gender equality and good attitudes to create a new manliness.

Innovation for integration

11. Anna Lindh , Right To Play Sverige. Right to Play Sweden works to get newly arrived youth into employment. The purpose of the work is to make sure more youths have the necessary conditions met to become participating members of society, to combat discrimination and exclusion through, perhaps the most important step towards integration – employment.

12. Elin Wernquist, Barnrättsbyrån. Barnrättsbyrån (The Child Rights Bureau) works with the human rights of children and young people. It is Sweden's first open activity devoted to children's rights that offers individual children and young people practical help, support, and advice.

13. Rebecca Madhani, Mitt Livs Val. Mitt Livs Val (My Life Choice) offers a study motivation program where students from universities become mentors and role models for newly arrived and unaccompanied youth.

14. Natassia Fry & Pegah Afsharian , Kompis Sverige. Kompis Sverige (Buddy Sweden) runs a friendship matchmaking service that connects unaccompanied youth and newly arrived with established Swedish youth.

Ten years ago, social entrepreneurship was an unknown concept in Sweden. As one of the pioneers in the field, Reach for Change has not only paved a way for innovations that create better conditions for children, but has also changed the idea of how societal change can happen. Sofia Breitholtz, the CEO of the organization, is looking forward to the next leg of the journey.

Reach for Change is a non-profit foundation that was founded by the companies in the Kinnevik group. Reach for Change finds and supports social entrepreneurs who improve the lives of children. Through coaching, networks, and financial grants, the entrepreneurs get support to grow their operations and make as big an impact as possible for as many children as possible.

“Seeking: Entrepreneur with social skills” was the headline in Metro January 12th, 2010. It was the first news article about what would later become Reach for Change.

We will leave it unsaid if the newspaper headline on the previous page was an intentional play on words or a misunderstanding of the term. But it is clear that social entrepreneurship – the idea to use entrepreneurship, innovation, and business practices, to solve societal problems – was essentially unknown at the time. According to a national survey from the year before, only 17% of the Swedish population had even heard the term before (a few years later the number had increased to 44%). But the concept being unknown did not mean that there were no social entrepreneurs out there. Within a few weeks, close to 2,000 people had applied to join the first incubator program of Reach for Change. Ten of them were selected to receive professional coaching and support to implement their ideas. This was the start of the first large-scale initiative to support social entrepreneurs in Sweden. Let us jump ahead ten years. Tech-billionaires and politicians are competing to embrace social entrepreneurships and the idea to combine social good with business practices is a given. The first entrepreneurs who were selected by Reach for Change have become role models in a growing movement of social entrepreneurs in Sweden. During the same time, Reach for Change has grown far beyond the country’s borders and has contributed to establishing social entrepreneurship in countries like Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Russia, and DR Congo.

“I am especially proud that we have dared to invest in entrepreneurs who have been in an early phase of their journey, who have often had to fight all alone. That we have helped them turn their commitment and ideas into tangible change for vulnerable children. From unaccompanied refugee minors who have found Swedish friends, to Swedish municipalities who have started working more actively to support the most vulnerable children, to more transformative change in gender equality and sexual consent”, says Sofia Breitholtz, CEO of Reach for Change.

“Seeking: Entrepreneur with social skills” was the headline in Metro January 12th, 2010. It was the first news article about what would later become Reach for Change.

Core

1. Ida Östensson, Make Equal. Make Equal's vision is an equal and inclusive society. With hands-on methods, they help organizations to reach and include target groups that they struggle to reach.

2. Johan Wendt, Mattecentrum. Mattecentrum (Math Center) offers free of cost help in math through their open math sessions and the online tool matteboken.se.

3. John Laselle Löparakademin. Löparakademin (the Running Academy) helps young people who live in the projects of Stockholm to set up and reach personal goals through long-distance running.

4. AnneSofie Blixt, TILIA. Tilia works for and with young people between the ages 12 and 30 with mental health problems. Through prevention, support, and advocacy, they create a sense of security and hope.

5. Rosie Linder, Peppy Pals. Peppy Pals is a mobile EQ game that teaches children about friendship, emotions, and empathy in order to prevent bullying and social exclusion.

6. Gita Rajan, Wonsa. Wonsa works to create a world free from sexual abuse. This is done through a specialized clinic and through research and training programs.

7. Elin Lutke & Jailton Carneiro, CIRKUS UNIK. Cirkus Unik combines social entrepreneurship and contemporary circus to create social inclusion, sense of security, and opportunities for growth for children and youth in Sweden.

8. Sandra Kinnaman Nordström , The Good Talents. The Good Talents is a leadership and social entrepreneurship program for youth. As of 2017, they have a special focus on unaccompanied minors and newly arrived youth. The program aims to give young people the knowledge, tools, and network needed to participate in the local community and enter the job market.

9. Amir Sajadi & Milad Mohammadi, Järvaskolan. Järvaskolan (The Järva School) works to create a school where each student is inspired to limitless dreams and motivated to continue their studies.

10. Shanga Aziz & Rogerio Silva, Locker Room Talk. Locker Room Talk offers training, tools, and platforms for young guys and adults, making it easy to talk about gender equality and good attitudes to create a new manliness.

Innovation for integration

11. Anna Lindh , Right To Play Sverige. Right to Play Sweden works to get newly arrived youth into employment. The purpose of the work is to make sure more youths have the necessary conditions met to become participating members of society, to combat discrimination and exclusion through, perhaps the most important step towards integration – employment.

12. Elin Wernquist, Barnrättsbyrån. Barnrättsbyrån (The Child Rights Bureau) works with the human rights of children and young people. It is Sweden's first open activity devoted to children's rights that offers individual children and young people practical help, support, and advice.

13. Rebecca Madhani, Mitt Livs Val. Mitt Livs Val (My Life Choice) offers a study motivation program where students from universities become mentors and role models for newly arrived and unaccompanied youth.

14. Natassia Fry & Pegah Afsharian , Kompis Sverige. Kompis Sverige (Buddy Sweden) runs a friendship matchmaking service that connects unaccompanied youth and newly arrived with established Swedish youth.

One of the aspects that distinguishes Reach for Change from many other civil society organizations is that they invested in measuring the impact early-on. By following the development over time, one can see that more than 9 out of 10 alumni (entrepreneurs who haft left the Reach for Change incubator) are still active, and that most of them continue to grow their operations making an even greater difference. With one foot in the social sector and the other in the business world, Reach for Change carries a deep and somewhat unique experience of cross-sectoral collaborations. The partner companies of the organization and their staff play a significant role in providing skills and guidance.

“When Reach for Change started, it was still new for companies to use their core skills to make the world better. Since then we have continued to develop new collaborations that are based on each partner’s specific superpower, with actors in both the private and public sector”. When Sofia Breitholtz looks to the future, she sees that social entrepreneurship will continue to play an important role in the coming decade to find solutions for growing problems among children and youth such as societal exclusion, polarization, and mental health problems. But she also sees new challenges to tackle, such as a growing impatience among donors, and a desire to invest in the “superstars” immediately without first laying the foundation.

“One of the success factors for Reach for Change has been that we go in early, that we have supported a broad spectra of entrepreneurs, and that we have dared to invest in not-yet proven ideas that no one else dared invest in.”

One of the strategic priorities for the organization moving forward is to support more entrepreneurs who themselves live in the areas with the greatest social challenges.

“It is wonderful to see how the ecosystem for social entrepreneurship has developed, but if you look at where the investments are made, the field is still very homogenous. I see a great potential in broadening the movement further and to an even greater extent ensure that those who live closest to the problems can be a part of leading the change.”

“The journey that Reach for Change has made, the shift we have contributed to in understanding societal change, is unique. But it is also, in many ways, a journey that has only just begun.”

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