Tag archives for Sustainability

SI Alumni Profile: Ezekiel Wafula Wepundi, Kenya

When, where & what did you study in Sweden?

Studied master’s program in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability, at the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlskrona, from August 2014 to June 2015.

Where are you now?

Currently living in Nairobi, Kenya.

What’s your plan now?

The excitement of contributing to a socially sounder and environmentally wealthier society made me study a sustainability related masters. After graduation, I have been (and still plan to continue) strategically partnering with willing individuals, organizations, and communities that are keen on socio-ecological sustainability. I’m actively involved as a member of the Swedish Institute Alumni Network in Kenya (SiANK) which encapsulates a think-tank on Sustainable development in the region. I also participate as an associate sustainability consultant with Inborn Energy−an energy efficiency and Management Company in Nairobi. More so, I engage with a social enterprise, SALAMI, which finds creative ways to crowd-fund towards providing lasting healthcare solutions to children in children’s homes. My plan is to elevate involvement in such engagements, neither as a strenuous career nor burdensome toil, but as an exciting societal input that connects me with like-minded people and enables me to ENJOY making a difference. My role in these organizations is mostly as a sustainability advisor.

Tell us about your experience as an SI Alumni.

Most notable of my SI alumni experience is the interactions that I share with both fellow alumni and the Swedish embassy in Kenya. Having a formally registered SiANK meant that I have a local community to associate with both in social gatherings and specific projects. It is seldom easy to reintegrate back in to the society after being away for months. However, having gone through the same experiences, the SiANK community has provided and intends to continue providing a moral support platform for these re-integrations to be easier for members.

The Swedish embassy in Kenya has been instrumental in facilitating various SiANK activities as well as extending invitation for SiANK’s participation in some of its activities. I cannot emphasize enough on how much this collaboration has added meaning to both SiANK and its individual active participants. The beauty about this partnership is its two−way symbiotic relationship in some both relatively formal and social activities.

What are your hopes for the SI Alumni Network in Kenya for the future?

SiANK, regardless of being a few months old, has managed to organize a couple of projects and events, and, participate in various other engagements with invitation from the Swedish embassy. I think that there’s potential to widen scope in sustainability initiatives and collaborations. I hope that in the near future SiANK will get to team up with other Alumni Networks from across the globe for impactful initiatives, ideas-exchange, as well as networking. We recently collaborated with a Swedish NGO − Global Playground Stockholm − for an impactful sustainability project−#IchangeKenya. This is a positive indication that we’re on the right track.

Anything else you’d like to share with the SI Alumni Network?

I have seen the immeasurable potential that collaboration between alumni from different countries can have. Whilst participating in a CSR and sustainability workshop in Umeå just before my graduation, I networked with the President of a Swedish NGO that promotes sustainable lifestyles who also happens to be a SI alumnus. Two years later, his NGO got to partner with SiANK for a sustainability project in Nairobi. By virtue of having networked and kept communication going intermittently, I got to work with him as the project coordinator on the ground. I believe that such is the magnitude of collaborative opportunities that a member of the Si Alumni Network is exposed to.

Please describe what impact the SI scholarship has had on your life.

The SI scholarship gave me a platform to network and exchange ideas with likeminded-people from across the globe. Thankfully, I had a diversity of classmates representing many countries from across the globe. We therefore all got exposed to cross-cultural collaborations. The same opportunities were presented to me from my activities in the Si network for future global leaders and, currently the SI Alumni Network.

What you’ll miss about Sweden?

I will miss Karlskrona, its expanse of the Baltic Sea, and my hopelessly crazy attempts at the once-in-a-while winter swims.

What you won’t miss about Sweden?

Winter was more or less bearable, but the almost ear-drilling winds in Karlskrona, I will not miss.

What’s your best recommendation to new students?

This is not only an opportunity to study but also a chance to see and connect with the rest of the world. Go for it!


Interview with Swedish Institute alumna: Mariia Tyshchenko

The Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine has interviewed three Swedish Institute alumni. This article is the second in series of profiles published by the Embassy of Sweden during October.

Mariia Tyshchenko is the founder and director of the NGO Poruch (“Nearby” or “Alongside”), as well as an associate professor in the political economy department at Kyiv National Economy University. A tireless activist and educator, Mariia’s main interests center on sustainable development and social cohesion.

“I was already interested in sustainable development. When looking for programmes where I could explore this in more depth, I stumbled upon the Swedish Institute’s summer school”, says Mariia. The 2010 summer school on strategic sustainable development involved spending one week in Mundekulla, followed by one week in Karlskrona. The whole experience was funded by SI.

“Mundekulla was in the middle of nowhere in northern Sweden. We lived on an estate that was completely sustainable”, remembers Mariia. “They grew their own food and recycled pretty much everything. They even had sustainable toilets! Having to differentiate between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ plastic was a bit of a shock for us Eastern Europeans.”

Moreover, the community sported a small grocery store without a shopkeeper. The store’s profitability relied on visitors putting the right amount of money down for the items they bought. This made a deep impression on Mariia. “For me, it was proof of the high levels of social capital in Sweden. Coincidentally, social trust correlates with low levels of corruption”, says Mariia.

Of course, in addition to their learning experience, there was plenty of time for the students to enjoy themselves. “I was lucky enough to have my summer course coincide with the Swedish Midsummer celebrations. It was a party like I’ve never experienced. We were even wearing our vyshyvanky (Ukrainian national dress)!”

Mariia was heavily inspired by the summer school’s overall philosophy of social responsibility, as well as the strong presence of women activists in Sweden. Mariia returned to Ukraine with a feeling that she could change the world. As a result, Poruch was born, an NGO with the aim of building communities and fostering sustainable development in the regional areas of Ukraine. Their current projects involve social cohesion training in Donbas and integrating internally displaced people (IDPs) into their host communities. This was directly inspired by the social cohesion she observed in Sweden.

Mariia has continued to maintain her relationship with the Swedish Institute and its alumni. During its 5 years of existence, Poruch has organized dozens of events, many supported by SI and the Embassy. The vast network of activists and experts Mariia formed at SI’s summer school has also been a valuable resource: to this day, the SI summer school alumni work together on various projects all over Ukraine.

In 2015, Mariia went to Sweden once again, this time to SI’s Summer Academy for Young Professionals, with the aim of increasing the practice of good governance in the wider Baltic Sea Region.

Overall, Mariia is happy with her choices. “Attending SI’s summer schools broadened my horizons while enhanging my career profile” she says. “Ukraine still has many unsolved domestic problems and challenges. By studying the Swedish experience we can add to our own knowledge”.

The interview was published at the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine website. You can read the original article here.

Alumni Event: Sustainability Priorities and Challenges in Poland!

Title of Event: Sustainability Priorities and Challenges in Poland

Country of Event: Poland, Warsaw

Name of Organizers: Antanas Bubnelis, Justyna Staniewicz, Marek Nowak, Wojciech Gadomski, Rafal Mikolajczyk

Read more » >>

Report from the organising team of the SI Alumni Forum in Belarus

Left to right: Pavel Makhnach, Liudmila Fokeeva, Aleh Kliatsko, Maryna Barouka, Aliaksei Kazlou, Katsiaryna Syrayezhkina, Vasili Mankevich, Ivan Tikota, Natalia Romeiko and Markus Boman (SI)


Dear Swedish Institute Alumni worldwide!

We are the team of the first Swedish Institute Alumni Forum (SIAF) on Entrepreneurship in Belarus (SIAF) and we would like to share our experience in the arrangement and conduction of the Forum. Unfortunately, we are not able to describe all the peculiarities, details and specifics of the Forum organization in one short blog article but we’d like to bring your attention to the most important parts.

Writing “we”, we mean the core of the team – 8 active participants: Ivan Tikota, Katsiaryna Syrayezhkina, Natalia Romeiko, Pavel Makhnach, Aleh Kliatsko, Aliaksei Kazlou, Maryna Barouka and Liudmila Fokeeva. Of course, it doesn’t mean that we did everything by ourselves. Within the organizing process a lot of other alumni in Belarus provided their support in different stages and in various activities. Read more » >>

Sustainable lifestyle: small actions, big difference?

The below report comes from Katsiaryna Syrayezhkina who organized an event on sustainable lifestyle in September.

A seminar on “Sustainable lifestyle: small actions, big difference?” was organized on September 16th in cooperation with the Association of European Business and ODB-Brussels (Belgium).

The main topics were as follows:

-          Sustainable lifestyle (Swedish experience)

-          Sustainable consumption

-          Ecological footprint

-          Eco-friendly initiatives

-          Sustainable mobility/transport

-          Energy efficient housing Read more » >>