A new Executive Director passionate about empowering people to create positive change
We are thrilled to welcome our new Executive Director Anna Kayal onboard! She joined SE Forum on 5 August and has been intensely busy since but we’ve managed to grab her for a chat about her background, entrepreneurship and what she’s looking forward to this autumn!
Hi Anna, and welcome!
Can you tell us a bit about your professional background?
After graduating with a BA degree in International Business in the US, I spent over a decade in the banking sector and more specifically within Swedish bank SEB. During those years I primarily worked within the realm of strategic business development but also with marketing and brand management. After that I did some consulting for organisations developing entrepreneurship programmes for immigrants and refugees, before entering the public sector. As a business developer at Botkyrka Municipality I continued to work with entrepreneurship through partnerships that were aimed at strengthening the skills and business advice to aspiring entrepreneurs as well as empowering young people with the tools needed to solve local challenges through entrepreneurship.
What are your passions? In life and when it comes to work and what you spend your time and energy on?
The idea of empowering individuals with skills and tools to create positive change is something I am passionate about. Having roots in the Middle East from my father’s side of the family, I spent about eight years of my adolescence in Aleppo, Syria. Although I was part of an international community through school, I learned Arabic which at an early age opened my eyes to the cultural challenges and social inequalities that part of the world is struggling with. As I witnessed the tremendous potential and desire for progress among many, the lack of knowledge and tools were among the most crucial impediments to create a positive change. Since then I have had the advantage through my professional life to also witness the profound impact one person’s idea can have if they are provided with the opportunity to turn their idea into reality. Having joined the SE Forum team, I am blessed to now be able to work with my passion!
What’s your view on social entrepreneurship? How do you see it in relation to the future of business?
I see social entrepreneurship as the future of business! I am a true believer in the power of entrepreneurship at large, and that wanting to do good is at the core of our human nature. It is marvellous that people can turn their innovative ideas into products and services that revolutionise and shape every aspect of our lives, whilst forming the basis of our global economy. However, for the past decades and much due to the technological advancements, we have collectively created a lifestyle that exploited both natural and human resources at a rapid pace thus contributing to the challenges we are now facing.
The good news is that we are once again collectively coming together across the globe – from the public, private and civic sectors to the academic world – joining forces to not only solve those challenges with innovative ideas, but to transform our approach to be sustainable in all our endeavours. So for future businesses to be viable, regardless of their size, the definition of success on a market will have to transform to a balance between positive bottom line figures and the impact they are creating on the world around them in the process. For existing enterprises, the challenge, but also the opportunity to maximise their positive impact, will be to incorporate a social entrepreneurship approach into their business model.
What are you looking forward to the most this autumn as you get started with your work at SE Forum?
To get to know each and every one that laid the solid foundation to and has been a part of SE Forum’s 15 years’ success story of empowering and championing social entrepreneurs! I’m also keen to gain a deeper knowledge about the ecosystem of social entrepreneurship, and how SE Forum with its renowned track record of expertise in the field, can further contribute to its development while strengthening entrepreneurs with the necessary skills to do more business for good and thrive. These are exciting times as the level of awareness is gaining momentum across all sectors, so I’m really looking forward to partnerships and collaborations in Sweden and beyond to create an impactful change for a better world.