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It is almost a year since Sofie graduated from the International Program for Politics and Economics (IPPE) at University West. Since February she has been employed by the internationally known association Support Group Network (SGN), which works to facilitate the integration and inclusion of asylum seekers and new arrivals.

– As a child, I dreamed of becoming a volunteer, but with salary! My goal has always been to work for people to feel included and have the same rights and opportunities in life. When Per Assmo from University West came to our high school and told me about the IPPE program, it felt like an obvious choice for me.

Impressed by SGN’s work
– As part of the training, I did AIL internship at Save the Children and came in contact with the Support Group Network in Vänersborg. I was impressed with their work and realized that it means a lot to people who live in uncertainty during the long wait for decisions about their future. There I saw an opportunity for me to make a difference.

As an organizational developer, Sofie has a variety of tasks. In addition to developing and holding activities that provide useful knowledge for asylum seekers and new arrivals, she writes reports, seeks funding for new projects, networks and disseminates information about the business. SGN works actively to create collaborations with various community actors. Since 2017, SGN has a collaboration agreement with the University of the West, which is about working together for sustainable social development.

Close cooperation with University West
– University West is an important partner for SGN. They contribute knowledge and valuable exchange in several ways. They support by arranging internships, open seminars, courses for asylum seekers and more. They also help with the validation of education. University West has a passionate commitment to these issues.

Since many newcomers want to start companies, SGN is part of the Orbus project, which will support and guide people in the formation of a new company. It is about everything from business advice and Swedish tax rules, to disseminating knowledge about how Swedish business culture works. The goal is to create sustainable companies and provide newcomers with the right conditions to start their own business.

Advice for entrepreneurs
– Many of them have run companies in their home countries and it is important to take advantage of their entrepreneurship and drive. But running a business in Sweden can be different in several ways, so it’s good to have the right knowledge from the start.

Sofie notes that the IPPE program has given her many relevant knowledge and tools for the job she now has.

– Education addresses issues such as identity, citizenship and integration from an international perspective. We have also gained knowledge on how to manage an organization. I have a real benefit from that now.

Besides this being the first job after graduation, Sofie sees another important challenge ahead.

– For me who has no experience similar to what newcomers and asylum seekers go through, it is extremely important to introduce myself to their situation and represent them in a respectful way.

Text and photo: Christina Axelsson
Published by Anna Hallberg