Innovation in Sweden: The Swedish company teaching children Emotional Intelligence

As part of our Innovation in Sweden series, SI News introduces you to companies leading the change. This week, we caught up with Paulina Olsson, co-founder and CEO at Swedish EdTech company Peppy Pals.

Innovation in Sweden: The Swedish company teaching children Emotional Intelligence

Founded in Stockholm in 2013, Peppy Pals creates playful, digital experiences for lifelong, social and emotional learning. With language-free apps, books, movies, toys and activities, Peppy Pals aims to teach children between the ages of two and eight about Social and Emotional Intelligence through storytelling and humour.

The idea for Peppy Pals started with Rosie Linder, a businesswoman and mother of two.

“Being a parent, she missed a fun way to teach her children about Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – critical skills for their wellbeing and success later on in life,” explains Olsson.

She adds that “she could see the power that games had and thought ‘why can't we use games for something more meaningful than shooting each other or putting makeup on Barbie Dolls?’”

Indeed, a report from the World Economic Forum states that Emotional Intelligence is crucial for the future as it leads to better relationships, success and overall happiness. And skills such as empathy, self-awareness and motivation will be among the most sought-after professional skills in 2020.

With play-based games, Peppy Pals hopes to create a future generation with higher EQ to prevent the ever-so damaging issues of bullying, hatred and exclusion worldwide.

Innovation is crucial for Peppy Pals to remain at the forefront of play-based learning for kids, says Olsson.

“We are the first company in the world to create mobile games on EQ without using text or language, and we have many ideas on how to combine digital and physical play with EQ in the future.”

The innovation process is not always fast paced and exciting – it can be tedious and require plenty of time and research. Thus, Peppy Pals focuses on team effort to drive the change of children’s wellbeing.

“You need to have a passionate team who believe in the vision and the problem you're trying to solve,” she explains.

Five years following its launch, Peppy Pals is still based in Stockholm, which has been named one of the best Edtech cities in the world for its innovative and supportive ecosystem.

“The Swedish start-up ecosystem has been very supportive from day one,” praises Olsson, adding that “we've participated in several accelerators, had great mentors and received grants from a few different initiatives both tech-related as well as for social entrepreneurs.”

The groundbreaking spirit of the Stockholm startup scene has been an invaluable resource for Peppy Pals’ growth and success.

“My advice to all entrepreneurs is to be curious and go to all sorts of start-up events to meet new people. You also have to have a mentality to ‘pay it forward’ – if you give, you'll get,” she concludes.


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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.