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Female entrepreneurs breaking social exclusion and building bridges - 19 Nov 2020

SSE Institute for Research (SIR) and House of Innovation (HOI), in collaboration with the Ester Foundation invited to a digital event about the role of women in breaking social exclusion, dependency on welfare benefits and marginalization in Sweden. The conversations were led by the author and journalist Alexandra Pascalidou, whose latest book "The Mothers" depicts the stories of 20 women living in the most vulnerable areas of Sweden. The event was held in Swedish.

In 2018, nearly 800 000 people in Sweden lived entirely on social benefits, i.e. over 13% of the labor force. For people born outside of Sweden, statistics show that it takes 12-13 years before 50% have achieved a degree of self-sufficiency, corresponding to at least an income of SEK 12,800 after tax per month. In addition to increased social support, there is a cost connected to missed tax revenues. Because of increased economic disparities, segregation and poverty, areas of social unrest have emerged around Sweden, which are described by some as no-go zones, while others believe the picture is exaggerated. The work of the police in these areas is very much about fighting gang crime.

Internationally, initiatives in microfinance have aimed to increase people's opportunities for self-sufficiency, something that Muhammad Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize for in 2006. In these contexts, female entrepreneurship often has a special position and is considered particularly important to create positive changes in society.

The Ester Foundation sees the potential in women as bridge builders between vulnerable areas and established Sweden. By supporting women in entrepreneurship, the Foundation works to break welfare dependency and give women the opportunity for self-sufficiency. This also increases the tax base and reduces the municipalities' costs. When women gain power over their own lives, knowledge of society and access to relevant networks and arenas, not only the conditions of the family but of the entire local community change. The women who make part of the Foundation have enormous power and often come from contexts characterized by entrepreneurship. Their experience and skills can, if implemented correctly, develop sustainable companies and spread positive effects in society.

Alexandra Pascalidou, writer, journalist and lecturer, led a number of conversations with the following speakers:

  • Pontus Engström, entrepreneur and researcher at the Stockholm School of Economics
  • Sofia Altafi, Chairman of the Board of the Ester Foundation
  • Maja Robsén, founder of the company Mammaproffsen,
  • Seham Ali, founder of ALMTAX Redovisning & Konsultbyrå AB
  • Thèrése Skoglund Shekarabi, police in Rinkeby
House of Innovation Inequality Entrepreneurship Equality Family economics Finance Leadership