What NFGL members learned at the Smart Energy Challenge

Last week, a group of creative and ambitious NFGL members gathered in Stockholm for the finals of the Smart Energy Challenge. Hear more about what they learned.

What NFGL members learned at the Smart Energy Challenge

As SI News reported in the last newsletter, Smart Energy Challenge finalists gathered in Stockholm on November 16th and 17th for a two-day event organized by the Social Entrepreneurship Forum.

The finalists were offered professional training on how to pitch their ideas, and were able to participate in study visits and networking events, allowing them to meet experts in entrepreneurship and sustainability and build a valuable network.

By far the most valuable aspect of the event, according to participants who spoke with SI News, was learning how to make a short and powerful pitch.

“How to pitch my idea was something new to me and making a presentation of my idea in one minute to attract either the customer or the investors,” said Henry Nkweto, whose project aims to integrate an automatic curtain opening system with lighting.

Jafar Salehi, whose project was entitled Sense The Nature’s Feeling, also mentioned the importance of learning how to communicate a lot quickly.

“The surprising part was how valuable one minute can be,” he said.

“At first I didn’t expect that I could summarize the main points in a one minute pitch, but after a few exercises I found you can send a strong message to your audience in one minute.”

Ekatherina Zhukova, whose project looked at minimizing waste created by international student mobility, emphasized how surprised she was to learn about the struggles facing social entrepreneurs in different markets.

“For example, the company that gave a presentation to us – Watty – works in the Swedish market and is able to make profit from its Swedish clients by offering them a service of controlling electricity use at home through an app,” she explained.

“Yet, another company that we visited – Solvatten – works with the most vulnerable groups of the populations in Africa by offering them purification of water. Making profit in this case remains challenging and the company therefore has to partner with bigger companies like H&M to receive funding.”

And for Mahmoud Hanafy, who came up with the idea for the Mama App, one of the most important aspects of the Smart Energy Challenge finals was the networking.

“I am very happy to know those amazing alumni, it was one of great things to meet them and to be friends,” he said.

For Sai San Moon Lu, whose project involves transforming burned calories into electricity, having the chance to engage in one-to-one consultations left her inspired to continue developing her concept.

“The most valuable part was training under the tutor's help. We exchanged ideas with each other and gave some updated suggestions to each other,” she explained.

“l learnt that we really can start our own businesses through the pitch training, and I’m planning to push my idea into reality if possible.”

While it remains to be seen how the many projects presented by the finalists will evolve, one thing is clear: the event went a long way toward building and strengthening important networks within the NFGL community itself, and between the NFGL members and the wider sustainability community in Sweden

“The Swedish institute should keep on organizing such events that create a platform for scholars to develop ideas that will save the world and learn from other people,” added finalist Henry Nkweto.


Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.