Amanda Sundell, herself a social entrepreneur, is originally from Helsinki. However, she has also lived abroad for several years working with the civil society and the United Nations (UN) in the Balkans. Now we are welcoming her as Ashoka’s first Country Manager in Finland.
Who are you and how have you been engaged with social entrepreneurship and social innovation?
After my period with the UN I felt that I’d want to apply myself in a more direct way to solve societal issues. So, when I moved back to Finland in 2014 I founded DROPP, a social enterprise with a mission to save the Baltic Sea. Currently, DROPP is being run by a family company that is committed to the same mission and the same environmental values that I am. We believe that making a difference should be made easy for everyone.
Now, I am starting this new journey as Ashoka’s Country Manager in Finland. I am excited about the opportunity this gives me to support social entrepreneurs to grow their impact and scale their solutions and I also want to help the bigger companies and organizations connect with these social entrepreneurs and learn from them, from their way of thinking and doing things, to incorporate it into their operations.
As Finland Country Manager, what do you hope to achieve for Ashoka Nordic?
I would love to breach the gap between the social entrepreneurs that need more support from bigger players in the sector. Ashoka can function as a coalition builder in the area of Social Entrepreneurship but also as a thought leader, as an actor that highlights the transformative changes that social entrepreneurs are achieving around the world.
Additionally, as a global organization Ashoka can also bring new perspectives into the Finnish market. We can connect the Finnish debate with the European and global debate, bringing that international perspective.
For this first year, I am looking forward to finding our first Finnish Ashoka Fellows. That is an exciting opportunity for us because we want to showcase what kind of valuable work social entrepreneurs are doing in Finland. Thus, electing our firsts Finnish Ashoka Fellows will be relevant in this regard.
Which are the key goals you would like Ashoka to achieve in Finland in the coming year?
Bringing more awareness to Social Entrepreneurship and to the transformative power of social entrepreneurs to achieve system change, which is one of the main purposes of Ashoka. For doing so, it is essential to support initiatives, organizations and social entrepreneurs who are aiming for systemic change and developing solutions for long-lasting social impact.
On the other hand, apart from raising awareness, it is also a key aspect to strengthen the ecosystem for Social Entrepreneurship in Finland. Bridging gaps between the more traditional start-ups and some of the more innovative social entrepreneurs, NGOs and Foundations out there is a key goal. That way we will learn the power of a community, and see what great things we can achieve together.
What motivated you to join the Ashoka Nordic team?
Based on my own experience as a social entrepreneur I feel that many young changemakers could benefit from more support, opportunities and a stronger sense of community and identity within the field of Social Entrepreneurship.
Ashoka, as the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs has a lot of valuable expertise on how to build movements for social innovation and how to fund organizations striving for social impact, which I think can be very valuable in the Finnish context. Ashoka also has a fantastic network of young changemakers who are developing solutions to many of the pressing challenges found across our society. To co-lead and engage with the youth it is essential for us because any innovative solutions will only be long-lasting if the youth are involved and takes ownership in the solutions for the challenges they will need to face in the coming future.
Meet the rest of the team.