Welcome to the team! Meet Johanna Vierros & Pegah Afsharian
Before joining Ashoka Nordic, Johanna led an incubator project for promising non-profits at Phoenix/Startup Refugees. She also founded a social venture focusing on responsible village travel in Africa and Asia, with local host families in nine countries and customers from all continents.
Pegah’s social innovation path, on the other hand, started right after high school when she got engaged as a volunteer within various human rights and integration projects:
“My parents came to Sweden from Iran as immigrants in the 80’s, and almost 30 years later, I found that newly arrived citizens in Sweden were still facing similar challenges as my parents did when I was growing up.
In society, the cultural polarization was growing. The integration projects in Sweden too often focused on unequal meetings, where new Swedes often got referred to as the “refugees” who were in need of help, and the established Swedes were referred to as the “guides” or “mentors” that were supposed to help. Also, all the initiatives in this field were set up as time limited projects and when the project funding ended – all the knowledge and achievements disappeared as well.” - Pegah Afsharian
Therefore, in 2013, Pegah co-founded Kompis Sverige with the vision to create a more inclusive society by connecting new and established Swedes, erasing perceived barriers:
Johanna, on the other hand, has known about Ashoka for almost a decade, and she has been impressed by its pioneering vision in the field of social entrepreneurship:
As Social Entrepreneurship Manager, Johanna looks forward to getting to know the community and network around Ashoka, both locally in the Nordics and globally in Europe and beyond:
I hope to connect with the 20+ Nordic Fellows and support them as much as I can, with our committed partners and supporters. - Johanna Vierros
In Pegah’s view, with all the challenges the world is facing today, the way forward is to strive for a world where each individual can be part of and create the change they believe in. Over the next year, Pegah hopes to create and enable partnerships for changemaking as well as support the development of a curious, efficient team focused on well-being. She is also willing to explore how we can develop a movement of young changemakers and social entrepreneurs together with our Nordic Ashoka support network and partners.
I want to contribute to reducing any thresholds that may limit such changes to be made, and to support in providing the tools needed for people to create long lasting changes. Building long lasting solutions not only require time and patience, but also the ability to co-create with others and to engage a strong team of changemakers and supporters around you. - Pegah Afsharian
Johanna, at the same time, has always loved working with youth. She sees the emphasis Ashoka places on youth as the real (and perhaps only) problem-solvers of the future as both heartwarming and smart:
"There is no better way to shift our collective mindset than educating and encouraging youngsters to act on problems they see in the society.”
Ashoka is the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs and changemakers. In the Nordic region, we aim to reach our global vision of "Everyone is a Changemaker" for the good of all. We want to achieve this by creating a dynamic and supporting regional platform for social entrepreneurs and young changemakers where ideas can easily grow and spread. Discover our main strategic areas of work and read more about us here.