Bridging the gap – from Lund to India

Last week SE Forum had the privilege of being partners to a summit called The Bridge in Lund, Sweden. The theme was “pushing humanity forward by linking science and business”. It was a fascinating collection of people there and I, for one, met with several players which otherwise would be have been hard to meet, and even harder to engage in in-depth conversations.

The summit aimed to be the bridge between science and business to advance humanity. While this was happening in Lund two of my colleagues were out on their own adventures, following up on how our Accelerator participants from last year are doing. That could be viewed as a disconnect perhaps? National and international players in science and business all gathered in Lund in the west while our social entrepreneurs are working for change in low-income countries elsewhere. However, I would argue the opposite. This was actually a great example of how the bridge can function as discussed at the summit. Because during my time at the event it became clear to me that I was talking about our social entrepreneurs as the solutions to the gap between business and science. In fact, our social entrepreneurs are the real building blocks of the bridge. They’re championing the development of technology to push humanity forward, and they are doing it using business principles.

Take one of the entrepreneurs who my colleague visited for example, Elsa Marie D’Silva. Her Safecity platform aggregates crowd-sourced data of sexual harassment and violence into hot spots, performing analytics and uses the location trends to engage local police and government to improve public safety. It’s been so successful that it recently won 3rd prize in the Intercultural Innovation Award, by the [...]

Rewiring My Brain in Stockholm

By: Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale, SE Entrepreneur – SE Outreach 2016

Travelling to Sweden was a dream come through for me because I believe that it will forever change my way of thinking about charity and Social Entrepreneurship. I was skeptical about the decision, but it was consciously made by me. I was afraid that it would change my belief about my choice as a charity person, as a transformation preacher and as a woman who has experienced poverty.

As a poor woman, I wanted to be a philanthropist, giving to the poor, training the poor free of charge and selling the products with the same mindset of everybody is poor. Therefore, the more we work, the more our efforts amounts to nothing and we become incapacitated in birthing our plan and spreading our wings to other parts of Nigeria. The majority of our products were given freely to the poor women and children while very few is bought by friends online.

That is why I decided to attend SE Forum’s Accelerator, to fully understand business ideals and ideas and strictly apply it to our Treasure business. Therefore, I was ready for a mindset change from the onset, working on achieving our goals at all legal cost.

So I set out to meet the mind changers. Stockholm is beautiful, we were ushered in into the hands of Svitlana, the ever smiling lady, who took us to our guest house. The journey began with travelling to Sigtuna with pleasant Annabel and lovely Fiona. What kind souls! And the shift in mindset began, how do we follow the numbers? How can we follow the money when there are so many poor abused women?

Sigtuna gave the fertile ground for the operation to [...]

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    “I feel stronger because I know I’m not just one crazy person”

“I feel stronger because I know I’m not just one crazy person”

Making life-long friends from around the world, seeing your business in a new light and the challenge of looking tall Swedish people in the eyes – these are a few of the things we talked about with Luciana Oliveira, of New Hope Ecotech, after she completed the first three weeks of the SE Outreach Accelerator.

Why did you apply for this program?

I applied for this program because I have a communications background and I have a MBA in business. I founded a company during the end of my MBA, so I had the basics of business but I started a company without really knowing what entrepreneurship would look like, and social entrepreneurship in particular. I’d read about it, I knew people who were doing it but I never really put the time into analyzing it or thinking before making decisions. So I found myself running a startup, with a team of nine people, six months after graduating from my MBA, without having thought about what is it that it takes to be the CEO and a change-maker of an early startup. So for me it was a big opportunity to be removed from my routine and think through what it takes to build and grow a startup. So that was the reason I applied, but also because of connections. We know that Sweden has a lot of great entrepreneurship and especially in the industry that I’m in – which is environmental services. It’s huge here, so I knew that I would meet people who could contribute.

Now that you’re three weeks into the program, what has your experience been like so far?

Oh my god… I knew I was going to learn things, but I was not [...]

“Solving a social problem is not a one-man activity”

Great weather, great people and surprising moments – Derrick Hosea Opio, founder of Onelamp, seems happy with his three weeks in Stockholm. We asked him a few questions to find out more about the importance of choosing the right partners, valuing different cultures and why he only gives Stockholm an 8,5 out of 10.

Why did you apply to the SE Outreach Accelerator?

I applied to this program to be able to get the right skills and network to be able to scale my social enterprise Onelamp, and the program being located in Stockholm gave me the opportunity to meet with really amazing people in various sectors –finance, technology and clean energy. It’s a very beautiful hub that brings together people from all over the world. That’s why I applied.

Now that you are a few weeks into the program, what has your experience been like so far?

It’s been amazing. From day one I’ve loved Stockholm. The weather is great and the people are great. Some of the trainers we’ve met have been really helpful with developing our business models, our customer acquisition strategies, our funding strategies and that has been very helpful for my business.

What has been your biggest insight or learning?

That’s a very big question to answer, but I’ll give a simple response. Solving a social problem is not a one-man activity – it involves many big partners or parties. You can’t do it alone. So one of the biggest learnings from this program is that you have to have the right partners. Not everyone is going to be the right partner, so how do you choose the right partners to be on your team? If you are going to work with 100 local women, do [...]

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 Year in Review – 2015

Are you curious to read about our activities and social impact from 2015? Then we have good news, because we now have our Year in Review-report available online!

Read about the entrepreneurs from the SE Outreach Accelerator 2015, the projects that developed from SE Woman in Stockholm and how social entrepreneurship has spread across the Middle East through our Training of Trainers program.

Click here to download SE Forum’s Year in Review 2015.

Two Months of Blood, Sweat and Impact

Almost two months has passed since I stepped into our office at Riddargatan. It’s been a whirlwind of meeting inspiring people, seeing the impact of our social entrepreneurs and understanding the landscape of where they operate. It’s also been an absolute pleasure coming into a welcoming team where warm effectiveness might be the best phrase to describe them.

For those of you who haven’t yet read about our entrepreneurs I strongly recommended that you have a
look at our info page about them. This is the favorite part of my job, reading about how innovative ideas and people can change the world where they operate. Take Francis for example. He identified a problem in Nigeria where blood banks aren’t connected to hospitals. This means that if you injure yourself and are in need of blood, you or your family needs to search for blood. Imagine yourself, your daughter has a car accident and instead of being with her you need to call, locate and collect blood. Something that takes time, is difficult and expensive! Francis’ answer to this is a mobile technology solution where hospitals or family members can send an SMS to a database that tells you where the nearest blood bank that stores the specific blood type needed is located. All at the cost of a single SMS.

It was a pleasure to have Francis and his fellow social entrepreneurs with us here in April. They spent three weeks with us going through an intense business development program and are set to return again in September. In the time between the blocks they are busy working on their businesses, some have won competitions, some have had great media exposure and others have launched [...]

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    “Those fighting for the wellbeing of women – they are my customers”

“Those fighting for the wellbeing of women – they are my customers”

Pumpkin soups, women’s empowerment and second chances! We had a chat with Joyce Kyalema, founder of JOSMAK, to hear what the near future holds for her.

Why did you apply for this program?

I first applied in 2014 and I didn’t go through. Maybe I was in your database, so I got an email about the application for 2016. I decided to give it another chance and applied.

Now that you have completed the first three weeks, what has your experience been like so far?

The experience has been good and I have learned a lot. I’ve learned more things about my business, that I didn’t know before, through Lena’s Gearup program.

What has been the biggest learning?

My customers. I didn’t know my customers. I thought my end-users are my customers, yet they are not. My customers are the NGOs that are fighting poverty, are fighting for the well-being of women. NGOs that help women get jobs and empower themselves – they are my customers.

What is the first thing you’re going to do when you get home?

I have a new product that I’ve been working on so I’m going to launch it when I get home. It’s a pumpkin soup.

What’s it been like working with people from different countries?

It’s been great, I’ve learned a lot from them and from their businesses.

What has your experience been of Sweden?

Sweden is beautiful, but the weather is not so good (laughs).

 

Click here to read Joyce’s profile.
Click here to visit Josmak’s website.

 

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 [...]

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    “When I leave here it’s like my network can span the whole world”

“When I leave here it’s like my network can span the whole world”

Is it possible to make car ownership redundant in South Africa by 2025? Ask Fikile Magadlela, co-founder of bike-sharing business iBoni, and he’ll say “yes!”.  We asked him a few questions to hear his thoughts on the bicycle culture in Stockholm, working in an international environment and the confused Swedish weather.
Why did you apply to the SE Outreach Accelerator?
Initially I applied because I needed the skills that were advertised and also it was going to expose me to a region of the world that has a culture built around what we want to create for Johannesburg, which is a cycling and bike-sharing culture. Stockholm is really exciting because it was a great opportunity to be exposed to it first-hand, so that was one of the reasons I applied. And obviously the structure of the program itself – that it was split between two periods with an implementation period in-between. It seemed very practical, that you ideate, implement and then finalize. I also did a bit of research and I looked at some of the previous participants and previous mentors and I was quite impressed so I decided to apply.
Now that you have completed the first three weeks of the program, what has your experience been like so far?
My experience has been great, just short of life changing I must say! It’s been a great opportunity to live the business and see it from the outside to compare my thoughts with some of the leading minds on some of these subjects. I enjoyed the lectures, the mentors and exposure to some of the entrepreneurs and investors – it was great.
What has been your best moment?
My best moment was….Well there [...]