Zoom out 2017 and zoom in 2018

Sometimes you need to zoom out in order to zoom in. That’s what I’ll do in this 2018’s first ED letter in an effort to share reflections from our international work and how that is influencing our strategies moving forward in a national, international and internal way. Ready? Here we go.
International reflections
I’ve had the indulgence of visiting 13 countries this year. Some for pleasure but most for work, in countries like Belarus, Tanzania, Ukraine, Kenya, Australia and Latvia. The trips had different purposes, some to follow-up on past participants of our various programmes, some to speak at conferences, and a number to examine the conditions for social entrepreneurs. The knowledge, understanding and contacts gained during trips like these are invaluable, not just for the specific purpose of the trip, but for understanding the greater context of the systems social entrepreneurs are operating in. It provides an opportunity to zoom out in order to zoom in on the specific projects you’re working on.
My snapshot reflections:

We can see the impact of a new generation acting for positive change. There’s a raw force fighting for a better society, doesn’t matter if it’s in what’s been described as the last dictatorship in Europe, Belarus, in the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, or in Alice Springs, Australia. It’s our responsibility to harness this energy, talent and courage, and enable it. I’m convinced social entrepreneurship is one powerful tool in doing so, lettering individuals take charge of theirs and their communities’ future.
However, even though individuals are strong and create positive change, imagine what we can do if there’s an ecosystem built to enable rather than to supervise. Where all players, no matter sector, [...]

Are you our next intern?

Interested in knowing more about social entrepreneurship? Always wanted to learn more about businesses aiming to resolve society’s most pressing problems? Dreamt to meet and get to know founders of social ventures?

Now is your chance as Social Entrepreneurship Forum is looking for an intern!


Social Entrepreneurship Forum (SE Forum) is a non-profit organization based in Sweden that advocates responsible business solutions to address local and global challenges. SE Forum promotes, inspires and empowers entrepreneurs from all over the world to use business to do good.

SE Forum will in 2018 in partnership with Seeds of Peace run the GATHER programme incubator –  a conflict transformation incubator for the cohort of GATHER fellows. The programme aims to support participants to hone their social ventures, develop their entrepreneurial skills, and make connections with colleagues, mentors, funders, and business leaders.


As an intern for SE Forum you will be involved in the daily operations of SE Forum in general, and the GATHER Fellowship incubator in particular. The internship will involve a broad spectrum of tasks, including event coordination, fundraising, administration, internal and external communication. The intern will work together with and report to SE Forum’s Programme Director.

The intern’s responsibilities will include:

Assisting Programme Director in the running of the 5-day GATHER incubator, including daily logistics, communication with participants, coordination with trainers and venues, etc
Identify and research potential funders as well as help prepare funding proposals to different organizations and/or corporations
Manage daily administration
Assist other team members with for example social media updates and events.

We are looking for a person who:

has a strong and demonstrated interest in the field of social entrepreneurship and/or social development
is a creative team-player who [...]

December 19th, 2017|News|0 Comments|
  • Social entrepreneurship ecosystem
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    Gaining momentum and growing the social entrepreneurship ecosystem

Gaining momentum and growing the social entrepreneurship ecosystem

We’re almost at the end of 2017 and can look back at a great year where we have, amongst other things, been putting energy into a deeper understanding of the Swedish social entrepreneurship ecosystem. Researching, writing and analysing how to play a part of a systematic change where the number of financially sustainable social enterprises can grow. Where ideas and solutions to difficult problems can foster and scale. And where the impact of our collective actions makes our society stronger and a better place to live.

We have a wealth of experience and knowledge from our previous work. However, it’s vital to sometimes reboot, go on field trips, have the conversations you never make time for, to gain new perspectives. We shared some of our findings at Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth Tillväxtverket’s seminar about the support structure for social entrepreneurs in Sweden. We were joined on stage by social enterprises, other support organisations as well as the Minister for Enterprise and Innovation’s political expert. A key take-away for me was how the government for the first time has packaged an investment specifically for the sector. The amount – 150 million SEK over three years – isn’t a lot to reach the goal of a systematic change in the sector. However, it’s a start for the sector to gain momentum. You can read more about the event here and watch it here.
Do as we preach
In addition to numerous conversations and interviews we also initiated a round table discussion with Swedish social entrepreneurs, support organisations and enablers within the municipality sector. It started off with a look back 10 years to understand where we’re coming from. We then moved on to what [...]

  • Nicklas Wallberg SE Forum
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    Creating an efficient ecosystem for social entrepreneurship in Sweden

Creating an efficient ecosystem for social entrepreneurship in Sweden

Social entrepreneurs can find advice and support from many sectors and individuals, but how do you know what’s right for you? And how do the sectors ensure they provide the best support? Our Executive Director Nicklas Wallberg joined a panel of different players within the Swedish social entrepreneurship sector to discuss and explore how we can create an efficient ecosystem for social entrepreneurship in Sweden.

The panel discussion was hosted by Johanna Giorgi at the Swedish government agency for business growth, Tillväxtverket, and it was based on a newly launched report developed by Sweco. Nicklas was joined by Emma Lindgren from Ashoka Scandinavia and government advisor Emelie Schröder. We also heard from inspiring social entrepreneurs Admir Lukacevic (Idrott utan gränser) and Lina Lagerbäck (We Unite Design).

Key points made during the event considered networks, and the importance of being part of something bigger. The social entrepreneurs mentioned issues around public sector business support organisations not understanding social entrepreneurship, and the importance of being able to generate income from various sources, partners and customers. They highlighted having benefitted from having had the opportunity to learn from others. From those who are also struggling but who are passionate about what they do. Providing these meaningful opportunities is therefore needed from the sector.
Building networks and ecosystems
Nicklas argued that the networks should be part of a bigger ecosystem that is less fragmented than it currently is in Sweden, and that we should be looking at long-term investment to create long-term change. There are a lot of players within various sectors that are already doing great work to support social entrepreneurship but he stressed the need for collaborations to ensure streamlined and efficient work. Emma also highlighted the importance [...]

November 24th, 2017|News|0 Comments|
  • Smart Energy Challenge
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    Exploring energy challenges and solutions with Swedish Institute

Exploring energy challenges and solutions with Swedish Institute

The SE Forum team was asked by its friends at Swedish Institute to join them in hosting 17 winners of the Smart Energy Challenge for two days in Stockholm. We were of course happy to and have enjoyed exploring smart energy and practising how to pitch your idea.

The Swedish Institute’s Smart Energy Challenge targets its wide alumni and student network and asks for ideas or solutions that can make an impact on a local or global problem related to sustainable energy. This year 17 people from almost as many countries have been successful and were invited to Stockholm last week.

On the topic of sustainable energy, we had the pleasure of hearing from Swedish energy business Watty, helping to fix the climate by allowing people to know more about the energy they use in their homes. We also visited Solvatten, providing rural areas in developing countries with innovative solutions to clean water through solar power.
Making the most of your idea
The Smart Energy Challenge winners have all got great ambitions and ideas to make the world better by implementing better and more sustainable energy solutions. What SE Forum was able to help with was how to communicate and pitch the idea to make it a reality. Our Programme Director Fiona Hazell delivered pitch training with top tips such as making sure you know what you want to say and how to say it. The participants practised their pitches and at the end of the two days, presented truly inspiring pitches at Swedish Institute’s offices in Stockholm’s Old Town.

Ideas showing how we can use the energy we produce whilst doing exercise in the gym, or how we could encourage energy efficiency and environmentally-friendly behaviour through [...]

November 20th, 2017|News|0 Comments|

October – a humbling and exciting experience

This month has focused on the understanding of the context of the sector we operate in and preparing for things to come. We’ve travelled to Malaysia, visited social entrepreneurs, researched the Swedish sector and had visitors from afar places like Mexico.

In Malaysia, our colleague Fiona presented our work and how entrepreneurs are making a difference in their communities via their business models. While in Malaysia, we also made sure to visit Anja (who went through the 2016 SE Outreach Accelerator) and Nina who just graduated in September this year. Nothing beats seeing first-hand the difference the entrepreneurs’ businesses are making.
The Swedish eco-system
Back at home we’ve been looking at the Swedish eco-system for social entrepreneurs, preparing for a report due at the end of the year. We’ve examined the relationship between social entrepreneurs and municipalities, how they are currently working with each other and how this relationship can evolve, creating a win-win situation for the two parties and the community. Important for this work is our position on the Advisory Board of Fryshuset’s Institute of Social Effects. It’s a good platform where players from all sectors meet to look at how cross-sectoral collaborations can benefit communities.

In conjunction with this work I’ve participated in the research for Tillväxtverket’s new report on the Swedish eco-system for social innovation. This report will be released at the Social Innovation Summit 14-15 November in Malmö. If you can’t make it you’ll get another chance at an event on 23 November in Stockholm where SE Forum will participate in the panel. I’m excited to read their thoughts and especially interested in understanding recommendations and next steps. We will share our thoughts and hope for a systematic approach where we [...]

Accelerating towards decent sanitation for all

Being one of the eight social entrepreneurs selected out of 900 applicants to attend SE Forum’s SE Outreach Accelerator in Stockholm came with a lot of excitement. But it also came with a worry about what would happen to my business if I was out of operations for the duration of the program.

I’m glad to say that I had nothing to worry about. When arriving in Stockholm, the lead trainer echoed that it is normal to worry but she emphasised the importance of building a strong team with processes that work efficiently in the absence of a founder. The training helped us overcome such worries and run our social enterprises sustainably, and today, after some re-structuring, I have managed to develop robust processes and the right team.

Taking part in the SE Outreach Accelerator has given me a lot of new insights, but it has also shown light on the great work we are already doing at Sanitation Africa. For example, we are constantly seeking feedback from our customers about our products and services that informs our research team on modification and future needs of customers. The aspect of social impact measurement is now well received in the six schools where we have constructed SmartSan toilets. We have piloted a survey to establish how clean sanitation affects pupils’ attendance and performance. And we are also administering quarterly surveys to households using our products/services.
Applying what I’ve learned
In terms of my key learnings from the Accelerator, I would highlight the emotional intelligence and inner sustainability that I’m currently applying in team management and facilitating discussions. The Give/Get Matrix has helped me in picking partners that are helpful in promoting the growth of Sanitation Africa. Meeting [...]

  • Malaysia Fiona
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    Social entrepreneurship in Malaysia: From systemic support to on the ground action

Social entrepreneurship in Malaysia: From systemic support to on the ground action

Our Program Director, Fiona Hazell, often shares her experience and knowledge to inspire and empower entrepreneurs that want to use their business to do good. This time, it was Malaysia’s turn, as she joined MaGIC. Here she shares her thoughts on the growth of a sector and the importance of staying true to your purpose.

Earlier this month, I attended the MaGIC Academy Symposium in Malaysia, a 3-day conference hosted by the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC). MaGIC is an initiative created by the Malaysian Ministry of Finance to stimulate economic growth through entrepreneurship. 

Aspiring to be known as the Silicon Valley of Malaysia, the campus in Cyberjaya boasts state of the art auditoriums, brightly coloured breakaway rooms and a fully-kitted out maker’s lab.

This year’s Symposium theme was ‘Disruptive Entrepreneurship’. With Ideo, Pinterest and Tinder represented amongst the speakers you may think SE Forum was an unlikely organisation to appear in the line up. 

I did too, until I realised that social entrepreneurship is a government priority and somewhat of a national status symbol. Two years ago, seeing the value entrepreneurs can contribute to social and economic growth, the Prime Minister launched the Malaysian Social Enterprise Blueprint 2015-2018, a three-year strategy to exponentially grow the sector from 100 social enterprises in 2015 to 1,000 in 2018. MaGIC was mandated to support the sector through a dedicated social entrepreneurship unit and fund of RM20 million (USD$5.6 million).

As a recent graduate of the SE Forum SE Outreach Accelerator, and member of the MaGIC community, Nina Othman of Grow the Goose, invited SE Forum to share insights from 13 years in the sector.
Embedding impact throughout the value chain
My presentation, “A World of Impact: Successful Social Business [...]

October 26th, 2017|News|0 Comments|

I went to Sweden and got to know 14 countries

Lena Reschke has been a very valued part of the SE Forum team over the last few months, as a Program Assistant for the SE Outreach Accelerator. She made it run smoothly and made it the success it’s been – filled with inspiring study visits, action-packed workshops, and good times. Here she shares her thoughts on the past months and her time in Sweden.

Yes, you read the heading correctly – over the past seven months I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, working and becoming friends with amazing people from 14 different countries. In March, I got on the train from Kiel in Northern Germany to Stockholm. I knew I was going to be a Program Assistant at Social Entrepreneurship Forum, but I didn’t know what my experience in Sweden would be like.

As a student of the Masters program ‘Sustainability, Society and the Environment’ at Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, I deliberately chose an internship in social entrepreneurship as well as the destination Stockholm. Sweden is known as a pioneer for sustainable development and Stockholm is famous for innovation, so it seemed like a perfect fit with my studies. But I hadn’t realized how international my experience would be.
A cultural mix of people
It started with my day-to-day life at work. The team at SE Forum is small but mixed with different cultural backgrounds. Might be the secret formula for their phenomenal teamwork, which acknowledges and supports each other’s work? I love their hands-on mentality as well as the weekly reflections on Fridays to celebrate successes of the week. Furthermore, I will always remember the walking-meetings with my colleague Fiona and the surprising face of my French friend when I told him how refreshing it is to have meetings while walking!

Apart [...]

October 11th, 2017|News|0 Comments|

Applications for GATHER Fellowship open until 15 November

We are thrilled to announce that we will be working in partnership with Seeds of Peace on the 2017-2018 GATHER Fellowship. The program will be looking to answer the question: How do we move beyond superficial diversity to leverage our differences and build thriving, equitable communities across lines of conflict?

Social entrepreneurs and social influencers addressing this question will be able to apply until 15 November 2017, and we are looking for those developing innovative solutions to create change.

Accepted Fellows will be invited to the GATHER Fellowship Incubator that SE Forum will host in Stockholm (March 2018), and have access to the GATHER Symposium in New York (May 2018), and the GATHER Summit in the Fall of 2018.

Fellows will be provided with personalized support to advance their work, tools to hone their professional skill-set, entry into a worldwide leadership network, and access to a pool of funds to expand their impact.

To find out more and to apply, please follow this link.

October 6th, 2017|News|0 Comments|