Interviewed by: Tanja
Rakel Solvadottir TEDx
“The ironic story of our founder, Rakel Solvadottir, is the learning setback she experienced growing up as a child and young adult, she saw in her own son who, like her, is afflicted with ADHD and, unlike her, dyslexia. The same struggles of acceptance that existed then and now made her, some 30 years later, seek a better way in helping all children find avenues of understanding regardless of characteristic learning differences. She chose not to define individuals by what society calls a disability.
For all the times she was told no, she wants to say yes to the children and young adults of today. For all the times she was told she was not good enough, she wants to tell those told the same, they aren’t just good enough, they are better. In 2011, Skema was founded and since then over 3000 children and 500 educational professionals have joined the reKode revolution.
It is this continuous focus on the positivity of opportunity that defines what we do and allows us the chance to help those that matter most, our leaders of tomorrow.” (Ref: ReKode About)
1. Name: Árdís Ármannsdóttir
2. Email address: ardis [at] skema.is
3. Phone number: +345 562 2200
4. Your title in the company: CEO
5. Company Name: Skema Ehf. / www.skema.is / Kt 520711-0310
6. Industry: Education
7. Company years in operation: Founded 2011 / 3 years
8. Type of company: Private Limited companies (“Einkahlutafélag” (ehf)
9. How many employees does your company have:
5 full time employees on a yearly basis
Over the summer: 5 extra teacher full time, and 20 part time (age of part time employees varies from 8-16 years).
10. Annual turnover: 2013: 58M ISK
11. Description of company:
“Skema is skilling the next generation of innovators that will change the world beyond technology. We teach children and young adults from the age of six how to code through a unique and innovative methodology developed by our team of research experts in psychology, education, and technology. Removing the barriers to learning, our methodology is designed to suit the different needs of children, building self-esteem while offering a balanced and motivating environment.” (Ref. ReKode About)
Rethinking education in respect to technology. Bringing technology into all levels of the education, in line with what is happening in the world today.
12. Company Mission:
To skill the next generation that will change the world beyond technology.
To change how children are taught today by focusing on 1 on 1 teaching, so everyone can fit into the educational system. To focus on rethinking education (levels and ways) where all children are provided with the opportunities and possibilities to educate on their own terms, aiming at their strengths and use technology to do so.
13. Description of social / environmental mission:
As per 12 above.
“We are focusing on each individual and trying to help them to figure out and find their personal strengths that will lead to their right educational path and future employment.. In the long term we are trying to build a high class knowledge society here in Iceland and we know children even with some kind of learning difficulties they can really be effective employees later on, just if there are given the possibility and right tools to educate.”
14. Would you call yourself a social entrepreneur or social enterprise? Yes, Skema is a social business.
15. How do you interpret the concept of social enterprises?
In respect to Skema:
- The mission of the company has a social core and already today the social impact of the business, its methodology and materials can be seen and valued
- Technological inspiration to individuals, schools and companies that are in need for technologically advanced individuals as future employees. The whole society profits from the core work of Skema
- Helping children who don´t fit easily in the school system by providing them a platform to blossom and “find” themselves
Questions related to the definition
16. Does your company have a clear social and/or environmental mission set out in their governing documents?
From the start the founders have focused and integrated a social focus in all their products and decisions in the company. As the company is growing the underlying decisional factor in regards to everything concerning the operation of Skema will always relate to the core of the business and that on all levels of the organization.
17. Does your company generate the majority of their income through trade? (51% and above). If not, how much?
18. Does your company reinvest the majority of its profits back into the social and/or environmental mission? (51% and above), if not, how much?
The company hasn´t yet been in a stage of profit sharing with the investors as they are still in early stages. Currently all profits are reinvested into the growth of the company, for example their expansion into the US, under ReKode. They foresee this practise to continue as they expand Skema worldwide.
19. Is your company autonomous of state? Yes
20. Is your company majority controlled in the interests of the social and or environmental mission? The board of the company makes decisions according to the social mission of the company.
21. Is your company accountable and transparent? (Transparency – corporate actions are observable by outsiders). Yes in terms of their legal responsibilities. For the most part the focus has been on developing products for the past 3 years. The intention is to have the business accountable and transparent.
The information is available if asked.
22. Who are you clients / focus group?
Children from the age of 6-16.
Tech-girls from the age of 6-16
Parents and grandparents
23. What KPI’s (key performance indicators) or measurement tools, if any, do you use to access if you are meeting your social impact according to your mission? (e.g. Number of users, number of engaged users. Etc.)
- Number of students. From 2011: 2.411 students have attended Skema courses
- Number of teachers. From 2011: 711 teachers have attended Skema courses
- Number of schools
- Number of municipalities
- Retention rate. Since 2011: the children that have taken 3 or more courses is 17, 5%. Accumulated retention rate is: 21% from 2011
- Customer reviews
- Gender ration
- Interest in technology
Initial pilot research with Reykjavik University, was able to establish the effectiveness of Skema´s teaching mythologies in generating self-esteem with the children who have taken Skema courses. Skema is in the process of applying for a grant, partnering with Reykjavik University, with the intention to measure the impact of the courses on children´s creativity, logical thinking, how they see technology, amongst others.
24. As per 23, what type of social impact have you created through your products/services (e.g. assisted 1,000 people access to health care they won’t have otherwise).
The overall interest in technology has increased during the three years Skema has been in operation. In 2011, 32 children were taught how to code but in 2013 the total number was 1.192. Fifteen teachers attended courses in 2011 in comparison to 470 in 2014. At the same time the retention rate and gender ration indicate a positive development in regards to Skema´s overall mission and goals. The rate of females attending the courses was 12,5% in 2011 but in July 2014, the rate reached 18%. Accumulated retention rate from 2011 is 21% meaning that 21% of the overall children taught has attended 2 or more coding courses. Thereof 17,5% have taken 3 or more courses.
In future Skema has plans on increasing the number of schools where the Skema courses are being run throughout Iceland by teaching the teachers within the schools how to code so they can teach the children. Skema´s focus is also on more active co-operation with Icelandic municipalities on special technological implementation packages for entire communities.
Social enterprise sector
25. If a social enterprise umbrella body were formed, would you be interested to know more about it and possibly join as a member? Yes
26. What support do you personally need from such an umbrella body and/or what support do you think the social enterprise sector requires?
1) Access to grants from international and EU sources
2) Finance: special grants made available to early stage social impact ideas
3) A key distinction between ´general´ entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, as social entrepreneurs have so many more areas to focus on and deliver value.
4) A support package for social enterprise start-ups
27. How would you like to see social enterprise develop in Iceland?
“I would like to see something like The Social Enterprise in UK here in Iceland and organizations and banks that only focus on business ideas with social mission. UK is around 15 year ahead of Iceland in the identification social business and support thereto. Government is one of the key partners, as they can only do so much in areas such as health and education and are in the need of help. Social enterprises can work to help in these areas. Government can assist and support these social enterprise solutions, and possibly offer support in the form of grants, where social enterprises can apply.”
28. Can you recommend a company (NGO) that you may know of that has a social and/or environmental mission?
Note: Social Enterprise Iceland does not in any way imply that the interviewed company is a social enterprise. The definition for social enterprise in Iceland is still work in progress through these research interviews. The purpose of sharing these interviews with the public is in alignment with our values of transparency as we share our process of discovery with those who are interested.by