As part of our work on the topics of integration and diversity, in 2015 Axfoundation launched ÖppnaDörren (Swedish for “Open the Door”). The long-term objective of ÖppnaDörren is to contribute to meetings between well-established and new Swedes who all need to widen their network and get to know people from a different background than their own.
Several reports make it clear that meetings are essential for integration to take place. We believe that the physical meeting is one of the keys to greater understanding, and a prerequisite for breaking the trend of increased segregation in Sweden. We also believe that we must make it easy for established Swedes to become involved to reduce fears and also because many are short of time. That’s why ÖppnaDörren has put together four organizations that help people meet and make contacts through activities that do not take more than a few hours to complete.
Axfoundation’s own venture, Yrkesdörren (Swedish for “Occupation Door”) broadens our professional network. Networks are essential since seven out of ten jobs are mediated through contacts. Yrkesdörren focuses on matching established Swedes with newly arrived Swedes based on industry experience and professional capacity with the hopes to broaden professional networks that can lead to jobs or internships. The idea is that two people meet during an hour and exchange experiences on how the labor market works in the industry and the social codes that apply to it. The goal of the meeting is also to open more doors for one another, contacts which in turn open additional doors, and so on at the same pace as the network grows.
ÖppnaDörren also includes the following three initiatives:
Kompis Sverige (Buddy Sweden) helps people from different backgrounds come together in their free time. Friendships are created by pairing people who have recently arrived in Sweden with already established Swedes. The goal is to create a Sweden without “us” and “them”.
Invitationsdepartementet (The Department of Invitation) acts to create memorable meals and new dinner companions. Swedish-speaking people invite to their homes for dinner people who have moved here from other countries and who are studying Swedish, or vice versa. Nothing odd—just food, language and meetings.
Svenska med Baby (Swedish with Baby) is an organization that creates new meetings between children and parents from different neighborhoods—and different origins. In groups of people on parental leave, they work to break segregation, build new bridges and learn Swedish. The tools are conversations, chitchat and laughter.
We recommend the article published by the United Nations Foundation on their visit to us in August of 2016 (link to article), they were on a tour to Sweden and Jordan to learn more about how we are handling the refugee crisis and how entrepreneurs and private sector leaders can help support refugees.