Spotlight: Maew Osataphan

Maew longWhat drives you?

Helping the brave and amazing social entrepreneurs out there who are making a difference to sustain and grow their impact.

Biggest SocEnt trend you have seen in the last 5 years?

The social enterprise scene is quite young in Sweden and I am new in it. Sweden has strong state involvement in social issues, which is great but it is also one of the issues that has made it harder for social entrepreneurship to evolve as a force in business. Also, what I have noticed working with social entrepreneurs from developing countries is that they can be somewhat ahead in developing sustainable business models because they know they need a revenue stream to make their ventures fly.


Maew graduated as an aeronautical engineer in 2005 and joined an investment bank. In London and Hong Kong she looked after corporate clients for one of the largest banks in the world. “When the Global Financial Crisis hit, I was working with clients in the retailing sector who were hit hard and that experience led me to join the restructuring team where I worked with financial distressed corporates in Spain and the UAE. I enjoyed the problem-solving aspects of my work, but I was also missing something. I have always believed that business’ purpose is not only to make as much money as possible. In 2013, I left my position to go back to university and study entrepreneurship and innovation at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. I learned about social entrepreneurship and came on board as a coach at SE Forum. Working with social entrepreneurs has been fulfilling and showed me that my skills are valuable in the space, so I stayed.”     



Social Entrepreneurship Forum Sweden

“Social Entrepreneurship Forum, SE Forum was founded in 2004 by four founders who got together to create a platform for social entrepreneurship in Sweden.” tells me Maew Osataphan, Interim program director at Social Entrepreneurship (SE) Forum Sweden. “They got together with like-minded people in bars around Stockholm to discuss how to solve societal issues in an entrepreneurial ways. In 2011, SE Forum secured the Swedish Development Agency SIDA’s support to run accelerator for social entrepreneurs from developing countries and in 2012 we ran our first SE Outreach Accelerator.”

SE Outreach Accelerator is a program designed for social entrepreneurs who are solving social problems in developing countries through their entrepreneurial ventures. “Participants join us in Stockholm for two stays of three weeks each. During that time, we mentor and train them in fields like business modelling, financial management, communications, leadership and social impact assessment.” says Maew, and continues: “During the first stay, we assess the business opportunity and lay a lot of the conceptual groundwork. When participants return for the second part of the program, we focus on the actual implementation. In between, they conduct market research and engage in our online community through learning and peer-support.”

SE Forum in session

Maew kicking off the 2015 Outreach Accelerator

The Outreach Accelerator is open to applicants from around the world who are targeting beneficiaries in developing countries; costs for participation, travel and accommodation are covered. SE Outreach Accelerator is unique in that not many support programs are open to social entrepreneurs from around the world (see the DO School Fellowship as another example among few). SE Forum have received over 300 applications for the upcoming SE Outreach Accelerator 2016. Maew explains: ”I think we have a great group of people who help us select the right type and mix of participants: individuals who will make the most of the program. We have external mentors and match them one-on-one with our participants. The latter are taught in a classroom setting and coached individually by our team.” Read about the SE Entrepreneurs here.

Within the Outreach Program supported by SIDA, SE Forum also works with partner organizations who are supporting social entrepreneurs on the ground in developing countries, through Training of Trainers (ToT) and SE Mini Accelerator programs. “Through SE ToT, local trainers’ capacity is built to strengthen on the ground support for social entrepreneurs and to exchange knowledge and best practices. SE Forum and the trainers from SE Training of Trainers together run Mini Accelerators in that location. SE Mini Accelerator is a two-week program aimed at turning participants’ social entrepreneurship ideas into concrete actionable business plan.  Our most recent SE ToT and Mini Accelerator took place in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2016.”, Maew fills me in.

“2016 is an exciting year as we are making changes to the programs with SE ToT and Mini Accelerator being run together for the first time and SE Outreach Accelerator Stockholm being run in two parts of three weeks with built-in reflection period in between.”, says Maew. “These changes are made from our learning and experience and with the an aim to continue evolving ourselves to support our targeted social entrepreneurs effectively and efficiently through our activities. Follow SE Forum on social media for updates!”