Research trip to Denmark, Day 5: social funders and rebellious artists

Research trip to Denmark, Day 5: social funders and rebellious artists

The last day in Copenhagen had arrived much fast than anticipated and so it was already time for our two last interviews: den sociale kapitalfond in the morning and the Art Rebels for coffee.

Lars Jannick Johanssen, ex-director of Denmark’s leading think tank “Monday Morning“, founder and director of den sociale kapitalfond had invited us to the new office in the Nyhavn-neighbourhood where he presented us a super concise and very insightful overview of the fund’s activities and working methods. He was so well prepared that he actually answered most of our questions without us even having to answer them!

Here is what we learned: Den sociale kapitalfond was launched in February 2012 and is “Denmark’s first social venture fund, investing capital and competencies in promising social entrepreneurs to scale their social impact and economic performance.”

It was established by TrygFonden (one of the largest and most prominent Danish charity funds focused on improving safety, health and opportunities in Denmark) and runs with professional support from Accura (“the leading Danish law firm within transactions”), KPMG (“the leading professional service company”) and Accenture (“the leading management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company”).

To reach its goals, the fund builds on methods and approaches from commercial venture funds to help:

  • Socially vulnerable individuals improve their opportunities in society and social capital.
  • Social entrepreneurs build capacity and scale their social impact and economic performance.
  • Social investors achieve high social returns on investment (SROI).

The fund relies on the enterprises to becom capable of repaying the investments, allowing the fund to reinvest capital in new social entrepreneurs. Lars wants investors with a philantropical motivation, who are willing to swap the monetary return on investment for a social return on investment. The social change that will result is measurable, he says: “It’s tricky, but it can be done.”

The team consists of 6 people whose job it is to choose the right projects and companies in which to invest and then to prepare both sides for the cooperation, so as to make sure that the process itself goes about as smoothly as possible. The elected companies get knowledge (seminars and interviews) and money (patient loans at very low rates / „evergreen loans“).

Examples of supported projects:

  • Specialisterne (Specialist People Foundation) – an IT-service company based on the special skills of employees with Autism Spectrum Disorder; 60 employees
  • Grøn Koncert – an annual concert tour that raises awareness and millions of DKK for people with muscular dystrophy.
  • Allehände – a kitchen project with only deaf cooks.

(For more information visit:


And then it was already time for our last interview of this trip: with the documentary film maker and Art Rebel Simon Caspersen, partner, strategic planner and responsible for the Rebel Agency. After a quick tour around the new office close to Nørreport station in a lively neighbourhood close to the city center (so new, the paint on the walls had not yet dried), we headed for a nice café around the corner and Simon answered all our questions.

Art Rebels was founded 6 years ago as a creative business, a movement and a network for artists, musicians, designers, film makers, cultural activists, web designers, event makers and other creative souls. At first, it was all centered around a web-platform, but today, Art Rebels operate on- and offline.

At Art Rebels ...

At Art Rebels …

... just moving in.

… just moving in.

They work like a one-stop-agency, distributing jobs and sub-tasks to the freelancers in their network. This way, Art Rebels can help one-person entrepreneurs with getting jobs and not to loose them because they are perceived as too small. Size should not be an argument, but the quality of the work.

Art Rebels activities can be divided into the following fields:

  • The webshop: a global platform that sells selected artwork and products from creatives around the world.
  • The blog: exposes culture and sub-cultural scenes from around the world
  • The Trailerpark festival: a festival for/of art and music in Copenhagen
  • The Art Rebels Agency: a communication agency working with/for both commercial, cultural, artistic, and social projects
  • Art Rebels Events: Talks, conventions, vernissages and other events, e.g. a road show for a big Danish media company

Most of all, we were interested in the Rebel Academy, sought to function as a consortium of creative professionals and an incubation platform for projects and collaborations where knowledge and inspiration on creating and running businesses as a creative entrepreneur can be collected and shared. However, the Academy is not yet operational as there is no reliable funding (the national government gave them money to start the online-platform but there is no regular funding available).

In general, money is an important issue for the Art Rebels, as most of them work as volunteers and can only take care of the Art Rebels activities in the evening after work, which means that all processes take a very long time. Simon hopes for financiers to be more willing to take on some risks and invest in the project. We hold our thumbs and wish them good luck!

(For more information visit: