Meet our Nordic Fellow Sofia Appelgren
Sofia founded Mitt Liv (My Life) in 2008, a social company with the vision to create an inclusive society and a job market that values diversity.
Her Changemaker journey
As a serial entrepreneur, Sofia founded two companies before she was 20 years old. She began when she was 16, a party and event planning business, organizing schools and local businesses around themed events at affordable rates. Later on, Sofia decided to focus on breaking down the walls of discrimination that keep immigrants out of the labor market. And, in 2008, Sofia brought the idea of Mitt Liv to life.
At the heart of Mitt Liv is the mentoring program, which matches people of foreign background and post-secondary education with Swedish employers. In addition to this, Mitt Liv educates and consults organizations all over Sweden on how to act to be more inclusive. In 2016 Sofia also founded the foundation Mitt Livs Val Insamlingsstiftelse, which supports unaccompanied refugee children with tools for further studies.
Mitt Liv (My Life) partners with traditional companies to build mentor relationships between foreign academics and company employees, as well as to expand educational opportunities into the extracurricular space through short courses on Swedish society, life-planning, and labor market competitiveness.
Sofia’s approach allows the immigrant community to see that people with immigrant backgrounds can follow their dreams.
Overturning the structure of traditional mentorship models, Sofia has created a professional solution and a symbiotic interactive program for participating partner companies. She charges companies for participation and services, drawing mentors from company employees and in turn, Sofia positions her young participants as experts for the companies. Besides, the participants offer their knowledge and life experiences as well as an inside look at globalization.
Furthermore, Sofia’s Mitt Liv program creates a win-win interactive program for these participants by building networks, personal relationships, and life-plans—giving them solid contacts for future opportunities and success to incubate their own ideas and develop their entrepreneurial skills.
Thus, Sofia has created a for-profit, self-sustaining model for Mitt Liv by partnering with companies who purchase the service and participate in the program. Mitt Liv generates income by selling the partner package deal to a broad range of companies—from cosmetics to finance—containing access to guest lectures, discussion groups, mentoring and a forum to exchange experiences between partners within both internal and external diversity efforts.
The program focuses on sourcing the most driven persons with an immigrant and equipping them with the tools to function in Swedish society. Mitt Liv offers them the tools to be competitive and build a culture of entrepreneurship.
Sofia’s Mitt Liv is structured as a mutually beneficial mentorship model where the participants in the program are not “victims” to be helped, but rather contributing partners on an equal footing, providing insight and education to company employees as experts.