Interview date: 15 July 2014
Interviewed by: Tanja & Haraldur
The idea is about a new way to connect people together to participate in democracy, politics and civic life was born after Iceland’s economic and trust collapse in 2008. Citizens Foundation developed the online open source e-democracy platform. Your priorities and has used it to promote online, democratic debate and increase citizens’ participation in their community in Iceland and worldwide.
1. Name: Gunnar Grímsson
2. Email address: gunnar [at] citizens.is
3. Phone number: +345 8978229
4. Your title in the company: CEO
5. Company Name: Citizens Foundation / http://www.citizens.is/ Kt 601210-1260
6. Industry: Participative democracy
7. Company years in operation: Informally in 2008, incorporated in 2010. E-democracy project in 1997-1998.
8. Type of company: Foundation (“Sjálfseignarstofnun” – Ses.)
9. How many employees does your foundation have:
No full-time paid employees. 7-8 members in the team currently with 2 of them interns in the summer.
10. Annual turnover:
Better Reykjavik project (City of Reykjavik): 250K ISK per month to cover the running costs.
City of Reykjavik, Contract work for the daily running improvements and updates of Better Reykjavik to the system: 500K – 2M ISK per annum
D-cent (EU Project): Grant
Better Neighbourhood project every year: 3 phases – get paid for stage 1 + 3.
NHS UK: NHS Citizen project / Demstock partner (demo phase)
11. Description of the foundation:
“Our main goal is to help citizens get their voices heard and to encourage citizens participation in governance. The idea about a new way to connect people together to participate in democracy, politics and civic life was born after Iceland’s economic and trust collapse in 2008. Citizens Foundation developed the online open source e-democracy platform Your Priorities and has used it to promote online, democratic debate and increase citizens’ participation in their community in Iceland and worldwide.
Improve democracy through consulting, solutions provider, with the use of open source software as part of their business offering.
They currently have contracts with EU D-cent, Better Neighbourhoods, NHS UK, Better Reykjavik and Estonian and Polish organizations.” Source: http://www.citizens.is/about/
12. Foundation Mission:
Our mission is to bring people together to debate and prioritize innovative ideas to improve their communities. We believe that without participation there is no democracy.
13. Description of social / environmental mission:
Same as above.
Particularly interested in reaching the youth in being involved in the democratic system, as the old ways no longer seem effective. Their aim is to lower costs and time in the process and increase participation.
14. Would you call yourself a social entrepreneur or social enterprise?
“I think so, yes. We have used the term: social enterprise to describe the organization.”
15. How do you interpret the concept of social enterprises?
The mission of the organization is to make society better, as opposed to damaging society.
Questions related to the definition
16. Does your foundation have a clear social and/or environmental mission set out in their governing documents?
Yes the mission of the organization is clearly stated in the founding documents.
17. Does your foundation generate the majority of their income through trade? (51% and above). If not, how much?
Grants : Income
33% : 67%
Income is based on services provided via consulting / software use.
18. Does your foundation reinvest the majority of its profits back into the social and/or environmental mission? (51% and above), if not, how much? 100%
19. Is your foundation autonomous of state? Yes
20. Is your foundation majority controlled in the interests of the social and or environmental mission?
The board, a self-appointed board, is run democratically. Robert and Gunnar make most of the day to day decisions. “Yes decisions are made in alignment with the foundations mission. There may be disputes on how you interpret the goal, but ultimately, decisions are based on the initial stated mission.”
21. Is your foundation accountable and transparent? (Transparency – corporate actions are observable by outsiders)
Results are not published online on a regular basis but as needed at any given time. This is mainly due to lack of human resources issues. We submit all our paperwork required as per law. The information is obviously available.
22. Who are you clients / focus group?
Clients: City of Reykjavik, NHS, Better Neighbourhood
Target group: Young citizens, up to 30+, all citizens
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.)
Participation numbers analysis are our most important meter. Over 500.000 individuals have participated in the websites that they run.
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).
Not the participation numbers themselves but more what was the results/ actions, from the platforms. For example: In Estonia for example they have had 103 laws proposed and 2 already are Estonian law, those came from Your Priorities platform originally accepted by parliament due to the “your priorities” platform. And in Reykjavik a number of hundreds of projects have been initiated from the ideas generated on Better Reykjavik and Better Neighborhoods.
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?
Working with the EU and other grantees, and knowing the best way to present ourselves, clear guidance on knowing how to approach the grant application process.
Sharing of experiences by members.
Forum for communication between members.
27. How would you like to see social enterprise develop in Iceland?
Create a volunteer field. “People want to do something, but feel there is no point.” People want to help but need incentives. MTo make it easier to match people with projects.
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