December 3, 2015

Sustainable Entrepreneurship Day at Aalto University

Sustainable Entrepreneurship Day at Aalto University


The first Sustainable Entrepreneurship Day took place at Urban Mill on December 1st, 2015. This year’s special focus “asylum seekers’ situation in Finland” attracted more than a hundred people from different communities to come on such a slushy day to take part in a one-day long programme. The idea was initiated at Aalto University, School of Business, with Sustainable Entrepreneurship course’s objective to introduce students to the practicalities of sustainable entrepreneurship and the role of business in a changing world. The course took in the special topic of current immigration and refugee challenges faced across EU as a learning opportunity not only for the students but also for the community, which raised interest among many actors.  

The day started with opening words by Ewald Kibler, from Aalto University Entrepreneurship Department, who is also the responsible professor of the course, proudly appreciating his students’ work and the result they had achieved in such a short period of time. Following that, Maria Ritola from Demos Helsinki held a workshop focusing on the asylum seekers’ situation in Helsinki. More than 10 asylum seekers took part in the workshop along with students. Maria said we should fall in love with the problem, not the solution – in that way we will always thrive for a better solution. To sum up the first session, the participants presented their minimum viable product that they have been working on in groups during the workshop.

During lunch the attendees had an opportunity to network with invited sustainability startups – Froodly, EntoCube, Joukon Voima and Faraday – three of these startups were born in Aalto and are run by Aalto students and graduates.

The afternoon session started with students’ presentations on their findings and entrepreneurial approach to tackling the challenges with more sustainable solutions. The majority of students reminded us to contribute to a better inclusive society.

The last part – the panel discussion – created a great platform to gather many actors to discuss the challenges and potential ways of coming together to deliver a sustainable solution to the asylum seekers challenge. The panelists were Tiina Saukko (Funzi), Heidi Humala (Advisor, Impact Investing, Sitra), Hani Tarabichi (Syrian Entrepreneur), Sonja Hämäläinen (Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Employment and the Economy) and Tuula Antola (Director for Economic and Business development, City of Espoo).

In the end, Tunna Milonoff and Riku Rantala from Startup Refugees gave an inspirational talk encouraging such fruitful discussions and actions.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship Day in the media: Talouselämä, Yle, and Yle Nyheter

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Written by Roope Kiviranta

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