In the midst of a fragile economy and a labor market rocked to its core, Stockholm based non-profit organization BLING starts initiative Bridge. The project, launching on October first, is taking place in Kista just north of Stockholm and will be a junction of local entrepreneurs and established businesses. Kista is sometimes called ”Sweden’s Silicon Valley” but is at the same time located in proximity to many economically and socially deprived areas of Stockholm. As the name suggests, the purpose of Bridge is to build a bridge way between the suburbs and the inner city businesses through trade, industry, meetings, and inspiration.
— Even though Kista is called Sweden’s Silicon Valley there is not one single hub for the local and engaged individuals. This gives a feeling that entrepreneurship is not for the people who live here, says Deqa Abukar, founder of BLING.
Deqa Abukar founded BLING in 2014 as a reaction to entrepreneurial segregation in Sweden and has since then pushed for entrepreneurship to be a catalyst for positive societal change, and a weapon against social exclusion. To launch The Bridge, BLING takes help from sub-organization Womenisia, started by Amal Said, as well as head partner Atelier Saman Amel.
Do you think Bridge could expand outside Kista?
— Definitely, I think the concept is brilliant, Bridge gathers trade, meetings, development, and inspiration under one roof. It is literally futuristic in the sense that trading within businesses with a conscious and inclusive mind will be more important than just buying and selling. As in-store visits are decreasing we need to think of creative ways for businesses to meet their customers and customers to feel genuine in their purchase. Retail isn’t dead, it’s changing. And we are doing it with the universal language that is entrepreneurship, explains co-founder Amal Said.
How do you get women to apply for Bridge, or will that not be an issue?
— The Bridge was also initiated by Womenisa, it is a network for personal and entrepreneurial development for women. We focus on inspiration and enhancing role models so that we can not only offer resources and the correct tools but also create an environment where women can open doors for one another. I believe by having these female entrepreneurs from our network in The Bridge it sends out the message that — when women see themselves represented, they’re more likely to apply, concludes Said.