‘If you have an idea, go for it and just do it’

Pramodini Makehelwala Senevirathne from Sri Lanka is the founder and co-owner of Bloqmode, a company renting out the latest fashion pieces at affordable prices.

'If you have an idea, go for it and just do it'
Pramodini Makehelwala Senevirathne owns the company Bloqmode. Photo: Caroline Holt Photography

Pramodini Makehelwala Senevirathne, 33, moved from Sri Lanka to Sweden in 2011. Since then she has finished her master's degree in computer science at Stockholm University and started her own company, Bloqmode.

Like for so many others before her, it was love that first brought her to Sweden, when she married her partner who already worked in the country.

“He is also from Sri Lanka but he is working here, so after I got married I had to move here,” she laughs.

Bloqmode was born in one of her university classes, after the students were asked to work on a project and present it in front of the class. Seneviathne and her group of four suggested the idea of making quality dresses available to people on a budget, a business concept she had thought of for a long time.

“I’ve had this idea all the time in my mind,” Seneviathne tells The Local.

“After we presented this as our project idea everybody said 'wow this is really great, you should do this'.”

Once Senevirathne graduated in 2015, she and a friend thought about bringing the idea to life and formally launched Bloqmode. The concept is easy, customers either visit Bloqmode’s website or their premises in Kista, Stockholm, and rent a dress for three days or seven days. 

After the launch, Senevirathne's business partner and friend left Sweden. Instead she teamed up with her husband to keep the fashion start-up going.

“My friend, she went back to her country. Now me and my husband own the company,” she explains.

So far Bloqmode only delivers dresses within Stockholm, but Senevirathne reveals she has plans in the making to grow the company even further.

“I want to expand this through the whole of Sweden,” she says.

Senevirathne's role at the company is not only to handle the paperwork, but also to deal with practical things like orders and deliveries. She argues it is important to go for what you believe in and not let insecurities or the hurdles of fate stop you. 

“If you have a specific idea or whatever it is that you want to do, just go for it and just do it,” she says.

“I never thought I would be doing something like this. I mean I did my studies in IT and now I am doing my business,” she says.

“I've had this idea all the time in my mind” Seneviathne says about her business idea. Photo: Caroline Holt Photography 

Senevirathne enjoys living in Sweden and says the Swedish people she has met have been really nice and helpful. When it comes to the Swedish language, she says time rather than the language itself is the main obstacle.

“It’s not hard to learn actually. But the problem for me is that I don’t spend that much time learning it,” she laughs and explains that most Swedes know English well enough for her not to hurry her Swedish skills.

“Especially in Stockholm, people speak English really well.”

However, she has experienced one downside of the country, the job market. 

“It is really hard to find a job. Even though I have a master's degree here.”

Even though Senevirathne thinks the job market is tough in Sweden, she still believes it is a great place for people with passions they want to develop.

Innovation is booming in Sweden, she argues and many institutions are available to help you with your business and offer financial advice.

“It is a really good place to start you business.” 

Article by Emma Lidman

For members


Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”