The Dreamer’s Guide To Stockholm

By: Nodumo Fikile Magadlela – SE Entrepreneur, SE Outreach 2016

There is something in the air in Stockholm… It’s in the constant juxtaposition of beautiful old buildings and the modern brand names and sophisticated vehicles on the streets. I had come to Stockholm with the desire to decode its magic. What is it about this place that has created some of the world’s most innovative start-ups?

On the 8th of April I got on a plane from Johannesburg with the sole intention of immersing myself in all things Swedish and to study the people, the culture the way they dressed; anything that I could get my hands on to dissect and analyse. I was so determined to find out what it was about this place that had this magic… The magic of Skype and Spotify.

The first thing I noticed at Arlanda airport is that the dress sense is very casual. People dress in a manner that is comfortable to them and not specifically to send a point about their social standing. Coming from the Southern part of Africa were a business suit and a big watch get you noticed, this was very unusual to me. I quickly pulled out my diary and made a note to myself: “First step to creating the next Spotify is dress in jeans and sneakers for meetings.”

My three week long experience living in Stockholm was like a whirlwind of experiences and culture shocks. I have been struggling with this blog post for the past three weeks since my return. What I have gathered from all the notes I made in my diary are just a collection of assumptions and I stand to be corrected.

For most part of the program we were [...]

A Memorable Experience in Stockholm

By: Francis Adereti – SE Entrepreneur, SE Outreach Accelerator 2016.
It was an awesome feeling when I was selected to be one of the 8 participants (out of over 300 applicants) to attend the SE Outreach Accelerator in Stockholm, Sweden. My 18 hour flight from Lagos, Nigeria to Arlanda, Sweden was full of excitement and trepidation. I had such high expectations for the trip – meeting and mixing with other participants from various parts of the world, touring one of the most beautiful cities in the world (Stockholm) and most importantly, expectations about the programme itself.
On arriving to Arlanda airport, I was welcomed in a very frosty way by the very cold weather. Svitlana (one of the programme coordinators) was holding a placard and had a hug ready for us (yes, us, two of us came over from my country). The second person from my country, Tosin, is an amazing lady that runs an organization that empowers women by converting Trash to Treasure, literally. Imagine!
We had a scenic ride to the apartment we were allotted to. Later that weekend, I met with Fikile (from South Africa), Joyce (from Uganda), Anja (from Malaysia), Sibjan (from Nepal), Derrick (from Uganda) and Luciana (from Brazil). All wonderful people with very fantastic ideas that they are working on. I knew we had a lot to learn from each other.
The next day Annabel, one of the programme coordinators, took us on a tour round Stockholm. From the Royal Dramatic Theater, to the Old town in Stockholm, to the old Parliament House, to Stockholm Palace, to the Stockholm City Hall (home of the Nobel Prize banquet). So many amazing places, my eyes got so big with wonder. Even [...]

How 3 Weeks in Sweden Changed Me

By: Luciana Oliveira – SE Entrepreneur, SE Outreach Accelerator 2016
“In Stockholm, you can cycle everywhere carelessly because people drive so slow and are so attentive to bikers”. “In Sweden, they offer a free light beer with low alcohol concentration for lunch”. “In Sweden it snows in late April!”
Yes, I guess my friends and colleagues in São Paulo have a point when they tell me they’ve heard enough about Stockholm and Sweden already. It’s not that I have not traveled or lived abroad. But I guess spending day in and day out with only unfamiliar faces plus having debates that influence your entire thinking process is indeed a too intense combination for such a short period of time (three weeks). It’s been two weeks since the first part of the Outreach Acceleration Program finished and I am still processing all the information and changes that happened within myself and that need to happen at New Hope Ecotech, the social enterprise I co-founded and run as a CEO. Our CTO, Anauê Costa, had only one sentence to express his understanding of what happened in these three weeks that I spent Skyping from somewhere in the far north: “You changed!”

I spent two years of my life studying in one of the most prestige business schools in the world, the Kellogg School of Management, but it was only in Stockholm that it became so clear to me: you only have a business opportunity if you have a customer ready to pay for the solution you have to offer! Yes, I guess I knew about it. But I was never such an obvious priority as it became after the acceleration program. How could I have forgotten about [...]


by Betty Ikalany – SE Entrepreneur, SE Outreach Accelerator 2015

I was lucky to be among the 8 entrepreneurs selected to attend the SE Forum Outreach Accelerator 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden. This was a two-month journey which I was so scared of at the beginning but was surprised that it was over soon. This is my experience during my stay in Sweden.

First week in Sigtuna was very nice. Despite being jetlagged, I enjoyed the induction week. The dinner was so good especially the way it was being served.

The comfort of sleeping in your own room was good because one had freedom to either read till late or sleep straight away. I had a little difficulty getting used to the other social entrepreneurs at the beginning because this was a diverse team of people from different countries, with different cultures and behaviours. That first week, I concluded that Flaviano, the social entrepreneur from Italy was the most arrogant and proud and I would keep away from him. However, at the end of the accelerator, I had a different view of him especially when he offered to escort me to the bus station and even offered to carry my suitcase for me. He held a constructive conversation with me and I realized that it is not good to rush to make judgments about people until you have had ample time to study them.

In the second week, I stayed in an apartment with three ladies from India and Vietnam. In the first week, we didn’t know how to go about cooking because we did not know which food was good for all of us. It was trial and error. However, at the end of the two months, we could [...]

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 [...]


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 [...]