Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs journey
exchange that made a difference
Greetings to everyone who is reading this article!
Today I (Santa), the Content and Community Manager, am taking over the MAD blog and this article to write about my reflections on my MAD six month Erasmus For Young Entrepreneurs exchange, which I am about to finish.
Before I start, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my mentor - Fiona and entire MAD team for this wonderful time and journey that gave me an opportunity to become part of MAD and learn what it takes to develop a Sustainable business, a business that actually goes BEYOND sustainability.
CO-CREATION OF MAD PROJECTS
My exchange started in the October month, and it was MADly great from day one already. My first day was concluded with a private screening event of Mission Mangal, which was organized by the Embassy of India. The movie was an inspiring true-life story of vision, determination, and women-led innovation, which is based on true events - India's first mission to Mars. This set a wonderful start for my six-month MAD journey.
At the end of October, together with the MAD team, we organized a Health Innovation Hackathon at Karolinska Institute, where participants were invited to approach the challenge in the Health care sector (Tuberculosis patient empowerment) and to come up with innovative approaches on how to turn the quarantine on its head. The event emphasized exploring the broader psycho-social context of poverty-related diseases beyond the Medical Treatment, and allowed me to once again realize the true power of uniting ideas and knowledge. The Hackathon was followed by a workshop that was organized in Benin and led by MAD changemaker Ana. During the workshop, further solution implementation opportunities were discussed. More information on the organized workshop and results can be found in this article.
In December month, I joined Impact Breakfast Club, which is a Stockholm-based community of professionals exploring collaborations for sustainable development goals, which is led by another MAD Entrepreneur and team member - Oscar Ohlström. I am beyond grateful for this experience and conversations during which I connected with so many inspiring specialists to whom I could share my and WolliMolli story and was able to participate in innovative brainstorming sessions.
Approaching the end of December, the MAD team introduced an exciting feature for our members - MAD Community platform which is space to connect, learn and co-create a world that is free of inequality, poverty, and injustice. I highly recommend everyone to join Community and become the change you would like to see in the World in a Community that consists of other MAD individuals.
The January month was focussed on the Sanitation Leap. In late January we organized an exciting event, a Sanitation Innovation workshop “Catalyzing the creation of a Cholera Free Community”, where stakeholders across sectors came together to explore new approaches to Sanitation innovation in Uganda. For better insights, take a look at the MAD Facebook post, which was posted after the workshop.
The February month was continued with the development of another MAD - Education Leap. On February 10, we launched Beyond Sustainability course at Hyper Island. Beyond Sustainability module is a 9-week program for Business Development students, where they developed SDG oriented projects that resonated most with them. The course focussed on developing a learning experience that is challenge-driven and mission fueled. During the model, 5 MAD and unique business concepts emerged, which you can read more about in our latest MAD article “Crazy times call for MAD Leadership & Business Models.”
To some people, February month is mostly associated with Valentine’s day. Having said that, this date has stayed in my warm memory as well. On February 14, I participated in the Impact Invest's Care of Business Women program, supporting MAD in kicking off the MAD workshop “Beyond Sustainability - Business and Leadership Models that Make A Difference”. It was an inspiring experience where together with other Swedish-based, foreign-born entrepreneurs I explored how to integrate impact into every aspect of a business model, that creates value which is social, environmental, and economic.
In the beginning of March, I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the Women in Tech conference in Stockholm together with entrepreneurs and ecosystem supporters from Egypt. The event was filled with inspiring presentations and provided a great platform for me to learn more about topics, such as Artificial Intelligence and its support in education and mental wellbeing, as well as learn from empowering business development experiences which were shared by the event’s speakers.
6. Sanitation Innovation workshop, group exercise in day 1.
7. Coffee break at Sanitation Innovation workshop, day 2.
4. Sanitation Innovation workshop, day 1.
5. Sanitation Innovation workshop, day 2.
2. MAD team at Health Innovation Hackathon.
3. Follow up workshop with the World Health Organisation (WHO) TDR -SIHI*, local ministers and NGOs in Benin to address the broader psycho-social challenges of Tuberculosis.
1. Group picture of Health Innovation Hackathon participants, Karolinska institute.
8. Launch of the MAD Education Leap, the course "Beyond Sustainability" with Hyper Island.
9. Fiona and Santa at Impact Invest's Care of Business Women program's workshop “Beyond Sustainability - Business and Leadership Models that Make A Difference”.
10. Women in Tech conference with entrepreneurs and ecosystem supporters from Egypt.
11. Visit of the Hyper Island Campus in Stockholm.
Finale of the exchange.
The spread of COVID-19 also had an impact on the end of my exchange.
In the middle of March, I returned back to my homeland to spend my birthday week with loved ones; however, due to Pandemic, the preventative measures were taken by the country, and consequently, I was prevented from returning back and finishing my last weeks of exchange in person. However; the MAD team found an approach, and we continued our projects and activities remotely. The COVID situation gave us a platform to innovate and recalibrate communication processes and to find other approaches to strategize, lead and even connect.
During this period, we finalized the Beyond Sustainability course with Hyper Island, witnessing how during those 9 weeks the Business Development students became creators of five MAD business concepts that go beyond Sustainability and we even managed to organize a graduation ceremony for them.
But I also had my moment. :)
At the end of my last exchange week, I had my online ZOOM surprise party with the entire MAD team, during which we exchanged reflections, shared our vision and ambitions, and even had a strategy session. I had my own MAD graduation ceremony, where I received my MAD graduation diploma. Diploma of the period that has positively and MADgically impacted my professional and personal life and way I see Business Sustainability.
12. MAD online team meeting and farewell party to Santa.
13. MAD Certificate "MAD Creator."
Some Final thoughts and words
Not to repeat, this for sure, has been a beautiful and life-changing experience.
Being part of the MAD team has taught me a lot of valuable lessons, especially realizing the power for mission-driven actions, crowd-sourcing impact on the innovation development, sustainability development within organizations.
Learning stories of the MAD Changemakers, for instance, Majd, a female engineer from Gaza, who created a company that produces concrete blocks from recycled rubble and ash, this way rebuilding the city which has suffered from war consequences, or entrepreneur Elsa D’Silva, the founder of Safecity, who invented her company to create safe cities within India and beyond, makes me agree with the statement that that “Impossible is just an opinion”.
Everyone can make a difference he or she wants to see in the World, the individual just has to be bold enough to believe that it can.
Thanks for these six months, thanks for the MADgic, and for all the beautiful projects I was given an opportunity to take part in.
This has been a project which made a difference from a business and individual perspective, and I am looking forward to witnessing the MAD movement’s continued expansion and hoping that our paths will cross again in the future.