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Interview: Sérfræðingarnir, Specialisterne á Íslandi

Specialisterne logoInterview date: 27 June 2014

Interviewed by: Tanja


Video (IS): Störf fyrir einhverfa

Video (ENG): Making Autism an Asset


The story:

In 2004, Thorkil Sonne, founded Specialisterne in Denmark with the focus on employing the highly specialised skills that adults with autism are able to provide to companies due to their attention to detail. Fast forward, a few years later the Specialist People Foundation’s goal is to create 1 million job opportunities for adults with autism worldwide. The branch in Iceland was founded in 2010.
It is estimated about 2000 – 3000 people in Iceland are autistic, where only 1,000 people have received a formal diagnosis. Sérfræðingarnir, Specialisterne á Íslandi as it functions today offers in house training to prepare, not only autistic individuals, long-term out-of-work individuals the skills required to successfully re-enter the job market.

Research Questionnaire

1. Name: Bjarni Torfi Álfþórsson
2. Email address: bta [at] specialisterne.com
3. Phone number: +345 892 1513
4. Your title in the company: CEO
5. Company Name: Sérfræðingarnir, Specialisterne á Íslandi / https://sites.google.com/site/specialisterneiceland/ Kt 650210-1900
6. Industry: Employment
7. Company years in operation: April 2011
8. Type of company: Private Limited companies (“Einkahlutafélag” (ehf)
9. How many employees does your company have: 1 full-time (100%) and a 25% employee

10. Annual turnover: 2013: no revenue
They receive funding from the Welfare Minister, Minister of Education, VIRK and from Vinnamálastofnun

11. Description of company:
Helping people to live a normal life where they may usually not have the opportunity to enter the work environment because of:
1) Are isolated
2) Feel they have no purpose or something to give to the labour market
Sérfræðingarnir offers this opportunity and gives the individuals a sense of being able to be part of society.

12. Company Mission:
Give people the opportunity for work in the labour market.
In most cases they assist their clients with social skills and work place etiquette.

13. Description of social / environmental mission: As per 12.

14. Would you call yourself a social entrepreneur or social enterprise? Yes

15. How do you interpret the concept of social enterprises?
The company does something good for society.
Through the company´s objectives they save money for society either by providing a service to the government that reduced their costs and/or where individuals can earn more and contribute to society.

Questions related to the definition

16. Does your company have a clear social and/or environmental mission set out in their governing documents?

General description in the company’s founding documents.

17. Does your company generate the majority of their income through trade? (51% and above). If not, how much?

Grants and Income from Vinnamálastofnun (4-5M ISK per year).

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 investors do not expect to gain any return, therefore all funds are used for the company mission.

19. Is your company autonomous of state? Yes

20. Is your company majority controlled in the interests of the social and or environmental mission? Yes

21. Is your company accountable and transparent? (Transparency – corporate actions are observable by outsiders)

Yes. In their communications with partners they highlight their success rates of assisting long term out of work individuals to integrate back into the labour market.
Updates are also on their website.

22. Who are you clients / focus group?
People with autism
Long term out of work individuals

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.)
Yes as per 21.

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).
Since their first client in August 2011, they have assisted 50-55 individuals. Their success rate is 33%, and have successfully found placements for 14 individuals in part time position (50%).

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?
They would like to see bigger companies willing to take their client’s in and give them a chance.

27. How would you like to see social enterprise develop in Iceland?
(answer not provided)

28. Can you recommend a company (NGO) that you may know of that has a social and/or environmental mission?
Klúbburinn Geysir
Janus endurhæfing


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.

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