A mentorship program for youth in social entrepreneurship and leadership!
SFV Changemaker is a free program for youth between the ages of 18-25 who want support and inspiration for creating change within society. The program consists of workshops, team building and inspirational lectures where 11 young changemakers will learn more about social entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership. They also get a mentor matched to their needs who will help them develop their leadership, find what they are passionate about, understand what societal challenge they want to solve and develop an idea.
SFV Changemaker is a collaboration between Svenska folkskolans vänner and Ashoka. Do you have questions? Please contact us!
Who is participating in SFV Changemaker?
Youth between the ages of 18-25.
Socially engaged youth who are eager to learn more about social entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership, as well as meet new people and develop their skills. The young participants have a strong commitment to change society in a positive way.
They do not need to have a completed idea. It is important for us to see that they have an issue close to their heart that they are passionate about and that they want to change within society.
Youth in Finland who are comfortable working in Swedish.
We selected 11 participants for the program.
What phases does SFV Changemaker contain?
The program is a combination of education and mentorship. We focus on five focus areas:
- Self-knowledge and self-leadership – an education and exercise around values, one's own strengths and areas of development, working independently and with others in teams.
- Social entrepreneurship and social innovations – an introduction to social entrepreneurship through information and case examples, focus on how to identify and understand societal challenges and their root causes.
- Leadership and commitment – focusing on leadership skills, how to build strong teams and inspire others to make a difference.
- Mentoring program – participants are connected with experienced mentors from different sectors, who meet them regularly for 6 months to support them in their work.
- Participants get the opportunity to exchange experiences with each other, and also to broaden their networks and perspectives.
Ashoka is the world's largest network of social entrepreneurs and changemakers, with over 3,800 so-called Ashoka Fellows in 93 countries. These include Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, and Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Ashoka supports members of its network to develop social innovations and create positive societal change.
Svenska Folkskolans Vänner
SFV is an association that promotes education in Swedish in Finland. Together with their partners and contributors, SFV contributes to a diverse and tolerant society in which Finnish-Swedish has a strong, self-evident and positive role. Through its own initiatives and various forms of support, SFV creates a positive change in society. They focus on sustainability, participation, commitment and democracy, among other things.
Meet the youth participants
Disa Kuorikoski has a bachelor's in art, and likes cats and painting with watercolors.
A negative personal experience with health care led her on this journey:
I couldn't put my memories aside after my long struggle with fatigue eventually resolved. One day, I stumbled across an ad about a mentorship program for aspiring social entrepreneurs. The program promised tools and guidance for solving social issues. I felt ignored and like something had to change, so I signed up.
Disa Kuorikoski hopes SFV Changemaker will bring her clarity as to why workplaces, like health care clinics, fail at their mission. She also hopes it will spark ideas on how to protect other clients from mistakes.
Most importantly, she would like to find inspiration for how someone with her assets can best serve a cause like this.
Right now, Disa wants to raise awareness about flaws in health care, she shares:
My long-term goal is to grow professionally. I still don't have a dream job, but I try to help others. If I could change anything, I would end all avoidable suffering and unnecessary expenses caused by ineffective treatment protocols."
Jessica Hellqvist defines herself as a social and outgoing individual who likes to organize and develop herself.
For Jessica, it is important to promote health, especially mental well-being among individuals, regardless of background or situation.
What motivated her to start the SFV Changemaker program was that she saw a lack in society that I want to remedy:
I have noticed that the young individual often struggles alone with mental illness for far too long before seeking help. I would like to change this.
If I could change anything in the world, I would like everyone to feel loved, safe and valuable in their everyday lives. And that everyone would feel appreciated!"
Jessica decided to apply to the program because she wants to make social change and introduce new systems to prevent mental illness in society.
Tools that she would like to get are gaining new perspectives and developing a concept that can promote mental health. But also get inspiration and guidance on how to develop her idea.
In the near future she want to develop:
The beginning of a sustainable social development by thoroughly designing my idea. In a long-term approach: I want to my promote mental illness and ensure that the individual gets help more quickly and is not left alone in society.
Vera Lindén is a bachelor's graduate in political science and is currently employed as a multilingual coordinator in schools in Helsinki.
She has experience in supporting individuals who belong to a linguistic, cultural and/or religious minority in the Finnish society, developing competence in anti-racist work and intercultural communication as well as developing new guidelines for inclusion in workplaces and educational institutions.
The main reason why I applied for the changemaker program is that I have dreams and ideas that I want to put into real practice. And while doing so, what could possibly be better than having a mentor by my side, a social network to brainstorm with and get inspired by as well as access to new knowledge provided by trustful resources? This is the recipe for becoming a successful changemaker, which is exactly what I aspire to be.
If Vera had the possibility to change the world, she would make it more open and connected by increasing accessibility to knowledge for everyone. She believes that knowledge, transparency and sharing different narratives and perspectives are the ingredients we all need for peace and a stabilization of each individual's mental and physical health.
Knowledge is a tool with which we can all learn to empower ourselves and others. Accessible technology and increased literacy are the most powerful means for combatting ""knowledge poverty"" in the world. The internet has opened up access to education, new businesses and learning new skills in a way that has never been seen before.
She also expresses how the SFV Changemaker program is the perfect opportunity for Vera to learn how to develop a new social network for herself that is aligned with her values and work ethics.
She hopes this program will provide her with a mentor who will inspire her, challenge her, give her straightforward feedback and teach her consistency. Long-term goals that she hopes to eventually achieve are increased leadership skills and being able to have an impact on other people's lives. Vera wants to be a good, trustworthy leader.
Juliane Fuchs is a committed and creative designer, project coordinator and freelancer with a passion for politics, social issues, system changes, and sports in the Nordics. Her main focus is the public and third sectors, as this is where she feels she can have the greatest impact.
She has been active in many different areas, e.g. as a municipal election candidate and was active as a scholar within the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation and organized a seminar on the theme of Public Service Design for other scholars. Currently, she works as an entrepreneur and freelancer for various companies, including as a service designer for The Strategy Architects, a consulting company in Germany that works with cities, ministries and non-governmental organizations.
Main topics in her work are strategy development, smart cities and regions, lab environments and their visualization and transversal innovation ecosystems. Previously, Juliane worked as a junior consultant in the governance-innovation team for Demos Helsinki, the Nordics' leading think tank.
Social entrepreneurship is something that interests her, but where she feels that she does not yet have sufficient knowledge is e.g. about funding and taking the first step. Juliane wants to join the SFV Changemaker program to learn new skills, get feedback and mentorship, and get to know other people of the same age who are passionate about what they do.
With #ReformMigri, Juliane started a movement together with a fellow student to improve Finland's migration service. Juliane is also passionate about accessible sports. She wants to make sports more accessible to both children and adults and is therefore involved on the board of her rugby union.
In the long run, I would like to find a larger project that combines many of my interests and where my skills and background can contribute to creating public good.
Agnes Bertell studies social policy and social work at Åbo Akademi University. She is calm, thorough and kind, and enjoys being with her family and friends. She also likes to exercise and move, as she loves the archipelago, sunsets and the sea.
"I have always reacted strongly when it comes to various injustices in societies or the world and thought a lot about them. I've always had a dream to make a difference, but maybe didn't really know how to go about it."
A main subject she is passionate about is bullying, focusing on both perpetrators and victims. She is also passionate about everyone being able to go to school, have access to food, water and healthcare, women's rights, homelessness, domestic violence, etc.
Agnes wanted to join this project because it sounds very interesting, and it is a good chance to take when hoping to improve the world. Her vision is to find something that could help victims and perpetrators of bullying in society, in schools and at workplaces, so that they can have a better everyday life.
A short-term goal of Agnes is to be able to help someone to have an easier everyday life. Her long-term goal is, for example, to form an organization or something similar that could make a difference.
Daniel Ekblad grew up in the countryside of the Finnish west coast. However, his mother tongue is Swedish, and his father is from Denmark. He has a bachelor's degree in international business from Novia UAS in Vaasa and the University of Lleida in Spain. After this, he spent two years working full time, mostly in marketing, including being self-employed. He is now pursuing a master's degree in journalism at the University of Helsinki. Apart from studies and work, he likes travelling and cycling, preferably at the same time. He loves engaging with the locals wherever he goes.
When it comes to our future, I want to be more than a spectator. After having worked exclusively in private business for two years, this has become very obvious to me. Do I want to work for a future that is as bright as possible for myself? Do I include the people I know and love? Why stop there?
If there were no limits to what he could change in the world, Daniel would like to significantly reduce misunderstandings and deliberate lies. He is craving a change towards less exploitation — unjust exploitation of workers, voters, feelings and resources. He views truth and thoughtful political opinion as an antidote to this. Starting a new chapter in his life, and since his changemaking journey is still on its first legs, he is looking for people to help develop his ideas. He hopes to meet people that get excited about the same things he does, and that can provide inspiration to build a concept of his.
I’m looking to get my concept off the ground with a suitable test group. In the long term, I'm hoping that I can build my career around it.
The promise of a mentor is another thing he looks forward to in the program. Applying for this program was an obvious choice for Daniel.
One of Linus’ favorite things is having respectful discussions with people of differing opinions. For the most part, there is something to learn from all parties. All sorts of art interest him, but in his free time, he spends most of the time on drumming, photography and filmmaking.
What motivated him to start his changemaking journey was the realisation of how privileged he is in different ways.
If there were no limits, he would like to change inequality so that people's opportunities would not be affected by irrelevant factors. Linus decided to join this program when he read about it because it seemed like just what he needed. He has many thoughts about society and hopes the program will help him find the practical ways of inducing change within the areas in need.
In the short term, I'd like to achieve as much happiness as possible — primarily for myself and people close to me. In the long-term, I'd like to have a similar effect on others as well.
Sofia Lintinen has always had an eye for vintage glamour and aesthetics. She grew up seeing silent films, old Hollywood films, listening to old jazz music, going to antique stores and creating art in different forms. She feels a strong connection to the 1920’s-1930’s, but also 1940’s-1960’s, and has found a platform for this on Instagram, where she has the opportunity to share her passion with over 70,000 followers.
Sofia would love to bring back the beauty of these eras within the makeup industry, to have the opportunity to design and create environmentally-friendly makeup compacts in vintage style.
I think this Changemaker program could help me find a way in the right direction and to find the right connections (i.e. to do business with) and to go forward with my idea. I am open-minded and easily find inspiration. In the long-term, I see this as an opportunity to create vintage designs also in other industries in the future.
May Högdal studies educational sciences at the University of Helsinki and works as a personal assistant on the side. Her interests include vegan cooking, swimming and politics.
She has been interested in making a difference in this world but has always wondered how.
I think what's important to me, is to understand that you can always make this world a little bit better; it doesn't have to be anything big.
If there were no limits to what she could change or impact, it would be how people encounter each other and the surrounding world. May considers kindness as the most important thing in this world.
May is especially interested in leadership and meeting new people. Her studies touch on the subject of leadership, and she wants to develop and learn to make, for example, work place environments better for everyone — not just regarding productivity but also for better connections with peers. She wants to create and develop ways for people to learn how to work better together.
Meet the mentors
Leadership roles in the financial sector
Carola has a Master of Economics from the Swedish School of Economicsin Helsinki (Hanken). She also has 20 years of experience in leadership roles in the financial sector in the Nordic region, in companies such as Aktia Bank, SEB and ABB.
Her leadership is characterized by determination, mutual respect and customer focus.
Mental trainer, coach and lecturer
Christoph Treier is a mental trainer, coach and lecturer. With a unique ability to make each individual perform at their peak level, Christoph's work is well-known after his lectures and top coaching throughout Europe.
Christoph was elected Coach of the Year in 2015
Partner at Forever Sustainable
Erik, partner at Forever Sustainable, is a value-driven leader with a strong will to make a difference. He has more than 25 years of experience from the financial industry and has held leading roles in asset management, responsible investment, HR, sustainability and community involvement.
Erik is also a member of the Ashoka Support Network.
Adviser for Sustainable Development at the Nordic Council of Ministers
Fanny Ejder is currently working as Adviser for Sustainable Development at the Nordic Council of Ministers. Her responsibilities include policy advising on issues concerning sustainable development, supporting the implementation and follow-up of the NCM’s Our vision 2030, and arranging meetings with the Nordic Expert Group for Sustainable Development.
Fanny Ejder's educational background includes a Master’s Degree in Climate Strategy from Lund University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Geography from Helsinki University.
Head of System Development, Integrations and Design at IM departments of ATEA Finland
Hanna Salo works as Head of System Development, Integrations and Design at IM departments of ATEA Finland.
Hanna is an economist within the main subject of Commercial Law and also works with recruitment, staff development and company building.
Academy Director at Åbo Akademi University
Heidi Backman has been Academy Director at Åbo Akademi University since February 2021. Before that, she was Director of Education in Grankulla for 8 years with responsibility for the city's early childhood pedagogy, education and leisure services, and for 24 years she made a career from Secretary to Director of the National Board of Education.
She has also worked for the Ministry of Labor, the Finnish Association of Local Authorities and the South Coast Province Association.
Heidi sits on several boards and has done innovative work regarding evaluation, forecasting, future exploration, digitization and bilingualism. Leadership is a main passion of hers.
Regional manager for public health
Joacim Sandbacka works as regional manager for Public Health Welfare in Ostrobothnia. He holds a master's degree in pedagogy from Åbo Akademi.
He was also elected to the General Council and the Board of the Ostrobothnian Welfare Area. In his spare time, he has worked as a football coach.
As an educator, Joacim is interested in social issues. In his leadership role, he is inspired by seeing others grow and has a focus on coaching leadership.
Future expert on changing societies
Milja is a future expert on changing societies. She has been working with the Lennons, a group of young peace ambassadors founded by CMI (Crisis Management Initiative), since 2019.
The heart of Lennon's mission is to convey a message and know-how about everyday crisis management from one young person to another young person - and that is also the group's absolute strength.
Milja has an academic background in political science and works with research and strategic consulting. Her future goal is to specialize in issues concerning the world, which is changing at an ever increasing pace and under new uncertainties.
Founder of Project life
Nina has an engineering degree in production economics and a Master's in Engineering (Logistics). She runs the association Project life, which she initiated and founded in 2014.
In Jakobstad, she is a member of the city board and council. She was also recently elected to the Council for the Ostrobothnia Welfare Area.
Nina is interested in leadership, mental training, coaching and has a great interest in community building.
Senior Lecturer, University of Helsinki
Pia Mikander is a senior lecturer at the University of Helsinki. Her areas of focus are democracy, social justice, anti-racism and active citizenship. In her doctoral dissertation, she examined how Westernism is constructed in Finnish textbooks.
She is interested in how to question norms and structures that prevent democratic participation and social justice in educational contexts and in society overall.
Get inspired! Meet Young Changemakers
Salaado Qasim is Co-founder and Chair of the Peace and Well-being organization RAHY — an NGO working to empower people by improving the living conditions of women and young people.
Ronny Eriksson is the Co-founder of Ambitious.Africa, a global movement that breaks down intergenerational and cultural barriers — allowing thousands of young people to lead the change supported by local governments.
Nermin Karaoglan is the Co-founder of SKY Nuoriso (Finnish Intercultural Community) — a Working Group that aims to ensure the well-being of all members of society, minimizing disparities and avoiding marginalization.
💡How are the participants selected?
During the selection process, we selected participants who have a strong commitment linked to the issue they are passionate about. They did not need to have a completed solution or idea, but it is important that they have a drive to create change within society.
🧳 How many participants are admitted to the program?
We selected 11 participants for this program.
✊🏾 What is expected from you?
Young participants are expected to attend our mentoring and training sessions. They do not need to prepare in advance for these.
💶 How much does it cost to join the program?
The program is completely free.
*It also includes the opportunity to apply for travel allowance and, if necessary, compensation for accommodation according to the most favorable alternatives.
🔥 Who is a changemaker?
A changemaker is someone who has identified a societal challenge and acts to solve that challenge, often with new methods and an innovative approach. We view the unifying factors for young changemakers as empathy, creativity, self-leadership, the ability to work together, the ability to act and the ability to think critically.
Here you can get to know young changemakers in Ashoka's network.
⚡Who is a social entrepreneur?
A social entrepreneur is just like a changemaker -- someone who has identified a societal challenge and acts to solve that challenge, often with new methods and an innovative approach. Social entrepreneurs value the impact of society more than creating profit. There are social entrepreneurs in all sectors of society -- well-being, climate issues, education, etc.
You can get acquainted with Ashoka's network of Nordic social entrepreneurs here.