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Skovgård Hotel

Skovgård Village, Jammerbugt Kommune, Denmark

The Skovgård Model consists of three social enterprises; Købmandsgården, Skovsgård Hotel and Råd&Dåd which are located in previous merchant houses in rural areas in Denmark. The purpose of the model is to provide opportunities for people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups and provide useful products and services for the communities in the area. The model demonstrates how the local community can collectively take over private institutions and establish enterprises where disabled people can contribute to local rural development. 

Collective efforts save local hotel

In 1993 it became clear that the Skovgård Hotel, an important meeting place for cultural and social activities in the area, could not continue under regular market conditions. The local community got together and, through contributions from 75 people of 1000 DKK each, the hotel was saved. 

Creating inclusive workplaces

At the time when the Skovgård community took over the Skovgård Hotel the old merchant house Købmandsgården had been in operation as a social enterprise for 10 years supporting people with disabilities to participate in the labour force. The idea therefore, was to base the operation of the hotel on a similar concept, with a core focus on supporting employment opportunities for people who typically face barriers to entry into the labour market.

Skovgård retains local services that would otherwise disappear

Today the hotel continues to be an important meeting place for cultural and social activities in Skovgård. It also attracts tour groups who come by to hear the story of the project and learn from the group’s experiences. A small booklet has been produced detailing the model behind Skovgård Hotel and two other local social enterprises – Købmandsgården (vegetable production, practical caretaker services, maintenance and operation of the local camping space) and Råd&Dåd (handicrafts services).

Believe in your vision and keep working towards it

The establishment of these three social enterprises is pioneering work that occurred long before the event of terminology to define social enterprise. The main driver of these projects has been the residents of Skovgård with their visionary ideas about how a more inclusive labour market can support local community development.

Keep working and don’t expect a 9-5 job

During the phase from vision to implementation it has required people working passionate for these initiatives. First the merchant house Købmandsgården and second Skovgård Hotel. It has required commitment and cooperation with the municipality as well as support from the people living in Skovgård village. Through joint efforts and because of a number of people being fireballs giving themselves fully to the project not expecting it to be a 9-5 job it has been possible to implement the visions. Support from the community and the municipality were also vital.  

Key learnings for municipalities

Jammerbugt Municipality’s support for the establishment of local enterprises was based on being flexible and keeping the bureaucracy to a minimum. They were not able to turn to other municipalities for support because they were the only ones carrying out this type of work at that time. Many other communities have now been inspired by their approach.

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Page last updated September 2016.