Over 500 actors interested in social impact, from 45 countries gathered between 9 and 10 November, in Oslo, Norway, to find ways to build new solutions for society during the 13th European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) Annual Conference themed Guiding lights organised in partnership with Ferd Social Entrepreneurs.

In his keynote speech, Sean Hinton, Director of the Open Society Economic Advancement Program and CEO of the Soros Economic Development Fund, underlined that risk-taking, knowing your customers, and backing teams is the key to bring together the soul of philanthropy with the spirit of investing.

Cooperating with multiple actors in the sector and taking risks when supporting social purpose organisations are two main elements participants identified as essential in order to build solutions that contribute to improving the society we live in.

This is one of the largest and most established conferences in social investment and venture philanthropy, bringing together European social investors, social enterprises, grantees, venture philanthropy organisations, business representatives, academics and policy makers from a variety of countries. This year’s conference has been supported by FERD, Oslo Kommune, Sparebankstiftelsen/DNB, Sparebankstiftelsen Oestfold A, TD Veen.

I am grateful for the community arriving here in Oslo. This conference means a lot for putting venture philanthropy on the map. It gave many people from the Nordics a chance to see what kind of people are in the sector in many other countries, and the competences they bring with them. I think the conference is a good starting point for more Nordic actors to join the venture philanthropy space. The conference gave me a sense of common goals. We are a community ready to act, to solve problems, and to spread solutions., declared Katinka Greve Leiner, Director of Ferd Social Entrepreneurs.

This year, the EVPA Annual Conference will head to Warsaw, Poland. Currently, only 2% of venture philanthropy investments are allocated to CEE, while 67% go to Western Europe. Social entrepreneurs face difficulties in accessing patient early stage capital that does not demand high financial returns. By organising the 14th EVPA Annual Conference in CEE, EVPA hopes to build a different message around the region, to increase resources and bring new actors into the sector.