Swedish weather is somehow a trauma

by Flaviano Bianchini – SE Entrepreneur, SE Outreach Accelerator 2015

The only thing I can remember about Sweden is the weather…

Coming from Italy and living in Latin-America Swedish weather is somehow a trauma. They told us that the last one was the coldest and rainiest May in sixty years; so, this is somehow an excuse, but still…

Despite the weather, the treatment in Sweden has been great from all. It has been great from the SE-Forum staff (not a lot of Swedish people though), from my colleagues (even less Swedish) and from The Hub (yes! Some Swedish there!).

I was really surprised about the dynamism and the inter-cultural atmosphere of Sweden and The Hub. I have been working and travelling in more than sixty countries all over the world, but I have never been in a place with so many cultures and differences as in the last two months in Stockholm. If not for Neelam and Elsa (they have a justification, in India they are more than a billion) it was very hard to find two persons from the same country. This situation made me think several times of what the world is losing by putting up frontiers and barriers everywhere.

My typical Stockholm day:

Wake up in my room with a Kenyan (sometimes even wake up in the night listening to his night talks…).
Having breakfast with a Vietnamese girl of less than 40 kg that had a bigger breakfast then me.
Walking to The Hub with a couple of Indians (see up for the excuse).
Take a workshop from a Swedish guy who has been living in Nepal for ten years.
Use my Italian skills to make a good coffee break for a Thai that has been living [...]

“Welcome To Denmark!”

“Mr. Muneer your flight to Stockholm is about to depart please report to Gate 3 ASAP”

That was the announcement that I heard when I had just landed in Amsterdam for a connecting flight to Stockholm. First I thought it can’t be me because I had just landed but then they repeated the announcement. Looking at the boarding pass I realized that it was me. Rushing from different gates I was finally on board and the plane took off. After some time the plane landed and when I was collecting my luggage I got a text message from my mobile carrier and it read like this:

“Welcome To Denmark!”

What? I am in Denmark? I said it aloud. I had taken the wrong flight! Meanwhile my neighbour calmed me saying “this is Stockholm and you got a wrong text.” Such a relief!

It has been a wonderful journey with SE Forum and this is my first experience to attend any accelerator. The best thing about the Accelerator Program is that they have selected such amazing entrepreneurs from all over the world who keep inspiring me every day. They are always motivated and passionate about tackling new challenges. During the last seven weeks I have learnt a lot from all of them. The thing which fascinates me about SE Forum is their team. I have worked with many people on social issues but I believe the SE Forum team is not only doing their job but they also care about social impact and that’s why they are here. They believe in us and they are always there to help. Who else is lucky enough to get this sort of support?

For me the highlight of the previous weeks was the session [...]

Time flies fast!

by Loan Nguyen – SE Entrepreneur, SE Outreach Accelerator 2015

Time flies fast. We have now gone through 5 weeks of SE Outreach Accelerator Program. Being part of the program has been so far one of the most meaningful experiences I have ever had.

This week we focused on measuring our business’s social impact- the challenging part that anyone can put a question on the precision yet everyone insists on being shown whenever coming to a business or project with social cause. With professional knowledge and practical experience on the field, Lars and Jessica guided us through the measurements and methods to separate the social impact factors in order to get the most accurate results. After the session, each of us had the chance to work individually with the two coaches to develop the social impact metrics that works best for our own business model.

This session, together with all the previous workshops on business and project management have helped us a step further towards making a strong business plan to boost our business in the future.

Apart from the precious knowledge in each and every well-organized and informative workshops and conferences in the program, I also appreciate the opportunity to learn from the other 7 participants who are social entrepreneurs coming from different parts of the world.  Not only are they experts in their field, each of them are such inspirational individuals and beautiful characters that make every day in the program an exciting and memorable experience

Elsa is an expert in networking who can build up friendship from business relationship and is always willing to connect you with other people in her network. Neelam will make you write a check and invest in her business only after a [...]

Halfway

by Neelam Pol – SE Entrepreneur, SE Outreach Accelerator 2015

“Believe you can and you are halfway there.”
– Teddy Roosevelt

This rings true for each of the eight social entrepreneurs in the SE Outreach Accelerator this year. And to propel us forward in our journeys towards the social impact we aspire for, SE Forum is providing us the much required nitrous boost through the 8 week accelerator program.

The last four weeks have been a flurry of activities – exposure visits, pitching sessions, workshops, capacity building sessions and conferences. While the program has been demanding and rigorous, it has given me an opportunity to step back from the day-to-day operations of Khel Planet and reflect on the yearlong work. The past week too was no different.

The 4th week started with Karin Sharma introducing us to intercultural communication and helping us chisel down our definition of culture. Some thought provoking questions were: Does culture restrain us or support us? Is culture about norms or is it mostly about art and history? Or is culture a name we give to beliefs we can’t explain? This discussion has led me to reflect on my own work of teaching life skills, which often involves behavior and mindset change – ‘Am I mindful about what behaviors and attitudes we might leave unchallenged under the garb of culture?’.

Then at the day long Women Investing in Women conference hosted at Nasdaq, we heard influential women and men (#heforshe) deliberate on how to push the needle on investing in women effectively. As an entrepreneur myself, it was valuable for me to think about – ‘what kind of ecosystem will enable women entrepreneurs to build organizations that excite and inspire trust of investors?’ Will it [...]

“Focus on the thing you know best and do it well”

by Elsa Marie D’Silva – SE Entrepreneur, SE Outreach Accelerator 2015

We are already in Week 3 of our accelerator and Week 2 at our apartment. Each of us is getting into the rhythm of things – the travel to and from the office, the daily routine at the apartment, the cooking and grocery shopping and basically finding our own individual space. We are also learning a lot about each other and our daily routines which shape the way we think and behave.

When Loan says “I’m good”, she actually means “No thank you”! Whilst we were grocery shopping, Betty mentioned that they don’t get broccoli in Uganda. And Flaviano works in a community in the Amazon where they have to walk for a day to get extremely poor internet for about 4 hours. It is with great difficulty that he is able to send an email. No wonder with such minimal social interaction he believes he is anti social!

At the start of the week we visited Peepoople and it was very insightful. The most important lesson I learned was to focus on the thing you know best and do it well. You cannot solve the world’s problems. But you can provide part of a solution for a larger problem. Other components can then be added to yours or innovations built on top of your solution to provide an end to end product or service.

Ruth’s sessions challenged us to think more deeply about our organisations, our vision, our core value propositions and most importantly the people we serve. For many of us, our clients may be different from the people who actually benefit from the work that we do. Taking a step back to think about each of our [...]

To acknowledge and to be acknowledged:

by Shezan Shams – SE Entrepreneur, SE Outreach Accelerator 2015

For the past two months, from the day I was given the news of my acceptance into the SE Outreach Accelerator program, I have consciously or rather I should say subconsciously, been eagerly awaiting my arrival in Sweden. I have patiently waited for the chance to experience a new country and culture with a different perspective, and to gain an insight into a culture that breeds innovation.

Now that almost a week has passed since I arrived here in Stockholm, if I had to recap in one word it would be “awesomeness”, and this can be related to each and every aspect of the seven days that I have experienced so far. First of all, the dynamic trio – Maew, David & Carlos. Not to go overboard, but I really think SE Forum board did a good job in putting together a great team who really believe in the cause of the organization. Then of course the participants. What can I say, it truly is an honor to be among these exceptional bunch of pioneering social business innovators. The first week’s interaction with all these amazing people, especially the trip to Sigtuna, which gave the ground to know each other better within the landscape of a historical location was just magnificent.

The daily workshops, in between ice breaking exercises, dinner with the local entrepreneurs and to round off the trip with the half day workshop with the bright students of SSHL were the highpoints of the week. Not to mention how we were spoilt with great food while staying at Sigtunastiftelsen. Now that I know what “Fika” is, I hope I will be having more while meeting [...]