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Impact entrepreneurs needed as role models in the startup space

Impact entrepreneurs needed as role models in the startup space

What defines an impact entrepreneur? Agate Freimane and Tove Larsson, partners and venture capitalists at Norrsken, explain why should you transform your business to meet ESG demands, especially given the business climate of today.

This article is based on insights from the fifth episode of Get Savvy.

Get Savvy is Nordea’s business podcast, where we focus on one growth-related topic each week. This podcast is supported by Nordea Startup & Growth, Nordea Connect and Nordea Markets.

We want our listeners to get business savvy and street smart by learning from the masters. Experts in entrepreneurship, e-commerce, technology and social impact are invited to the podcast to share their stories and learnings.

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What defines an impact entrepreneur and why should you transform your business to meet ESG demands, especially given the business climate of today? To answer these questions we have invited Agate Freimane and Tove Larsson, both partners and venture capitalists at the Stockholm based impact investor fund, Norrsken VC Fund to Nordea’s Nordic business podcast Get Savvy. In the episode, they also explain why they call themselves “activists”.

Norrsken was founded in 2016, by Niklas Adalberth, one of the co-founders of the Swedish fintech company Klarna, with the aim of making the world a better place. Norrsken focus on technology-driven entrepreneurship, in which they think that the biggest opportunity can be found where impact and profits go hand in hand.

What is an impact entrepreneur?

All entrepreneurs are problem solvers, in line with the definition of entrepreneurship all entrepreneurs contribute with a lot of value, such as creating new job opportunities. However, not all entrepreneurs aim for their businesses to have a positive impact on people or the planet.

An impact entrepreneur is according to Norrsken, defined as an entrepreneur with core values and operations that generate significant, measurable and intentional impact. “We carefully select which companies we invest in, as some companies try to impact wash. At the same time, we believe every single company out there can be ESG compliant,” says Agate Freimane.

In the public market, it is, according to Agate Freimane, “old news” that sustainable companies perform better in the long term. “If you look at the performance of indexes created by ESG companies with high sustainability standards, the stocks are very visibly outperforming the averages. The startup world, however, is only just catching up to this, and Norrsken strives to take part in this development,” she continues.


Impact investing, the new normal?

Agate Freimane and Tove Larsson explain how Norrsken sees an increasing demand for impact investment in general, making it a global, and hopefully long term trend.

They emphasise that in order for impact investment to become the new normal, there is a need for role models. Role models in the form of successful impact companies, that become not only financial unicorns, being valued at one billion dollars, but also truly become impact unicorns, affecting one billion people. Success stories are needed in the startup space, but also success stories among investors. Impact funds such as Norrsken and others could be seen as the first generation of impact funds leading the way, which is why the results they deliver can have a great effect on the industry in general.

How to stay relevant for future market demands?

If you cut down what ESG and sustainability comes down to, it is naturally all about looking after people and the planet.

People: Like everything, it starts with people. Start your business transition into becoming compliant with ESG by evaluating how you run your internal policies to make sure you are committed to diversity standards and best practices of running your organisation.

Planet: Does your business operate according to existing sustainability standards? Are there any business activities that have a negative impact on the planet? Consider how you could adjust your services and operations to make incremental improvements.

Don’t get lost in checklists!
It’s easy to get lost in checklists saying do this and that (like this one), so the last advice is not to get lost in long polices and checklists. Instead, take a step back and evaluate your business from a holistic viewpoint. What impact does your business have on people and the planet? Develop a list of necessary actions to improve your business’ direct and indirect impact.


To listen to this episode of Get Savvy, tune in to the podcast via your preferred app, such as Spotify or at Acast, to learn more. Subscribe and share it with your network.

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