Ashoka Nordic sat down (digitally, of course) to speak to Anton Karlsson, a Changemakers Camp alumnus and a young Changemaker, to talk about how and why he started, together with fellow young Changemakers, “Coronahjälpen” or Corona help in English.
Hi Anton! We are in the midst of challenging times, and it is often during these moments that social entrepreneurs rise to the challenge. Could you please share with us what you have started and why?
Hi Ashoka! I've started the initiative Coronahjälpen to help solve all kinds of problems due to Covid-19, with the words “humanity” and “respect” as my guiding stars.
We started with a Facebook group to connect people in different risk groups who were in self-isolation with those willing to help them with daily tasks such as shopping for groceries or walking the dog.
In the following weeks, my team and I developed Coronahjälpen to what it is today - a front for different initiatives to help all those indirectly affected by Covid-19. For example, we offer online homework assistance for free to students who are studying from home and we have developed posters that our members can use to inform people around them that they're there to help.
But mostly we share and develop other people’s initiatives and ideas such as buying take away to hospital staff to show our appreciation and to help the local restaurants. The goal for me personally has always been to help and inspire other people to make a difference, I support them in what they want to do. I see everyone willing to help others in this crisis as my everyday heroes.
In the future, I think social entrepreneurship and the ability to create grass-root initiatives will become even more important to tackle a more insecure world and creating change fast and efficiently.
What has been your main learning from this journey so far?
I've learned a lot in a short timespan and I think that's one of the advantages with being driven by a vision and not by the method itself. The ability to adapt to the situation and to collaborate with other actors has been crucial because of the rapid changes.
Besides, I've also learned the importance of having a big network that can co-create to develop the initiative and scale it's impact fast.
Furthermore, I've needed to adapt my changemaker skills to different situations. In the past, I've always had time to plan my actions but with Coronahjälpen I've needed a more agile and flexible solution to problems.
We would also love to know what drives you. Why did you decide at a young age to be a social entrepreneur and Changemaker?
When I was 8, I started in the scouts and since then I've always had good leaders and changemakers as role models. I've always wanted to do more and develop as a scout, leader, and changemaker. I don't see it as a choice I have, I need to contribute with what I can to both individuals and the society as a whole.
I also want to co-create platforms for people that want to do the same. I have a very practical approach to changemaking and I like the entrepreneurial side of things with a lot happening at the same time. However, I'm also driven by my core-values with respect for others and humanity as the most important ones and I want to connect and make friends with other people driven to create the same impact.
At Ashoka, we envision a world of Changemakers, could you please share your thoughts on what a Changemaker means for you?
I think of a changemaker as someone who wants to make a difference for others and who then take that want and puts it into action. I see a difference between changemakers and social entrepreneurs, where social entrepreneurs start innovative initiatives and organizations.
Changemakers can create a better society either through existing organizations or in their daily life. A world of changemakers of different ages and from different cultures would be a better more enjoyable world.
You can't do changemaking alone, it's a team sport and I'm so grateful for the changemakers I have around me. It's a combination of young changemakers and more experienced change-leaders and social entrepreneurs that together have created Coronahjälpen.
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