“I believe there is great potential for social entrepreneurship and innovation startups to play a vital role in addressing societal challenges”

SI met with scholarship holder Eric Deoul Raj, who after a year of studying Leadership for Sustainability at Malmö reflects on his experience in Sweden and the change he aspires to create in Sri Lanka.
Man standing on a podium holding a speech

Hello Eric! A year has passed, and you are soon graduating from the Leadership for Sustainability programme at Malmö university. When thinking back to the beginning, what was your motivation to come to Sweden and apply for the SI Scholarship for Global Professionals?

I share a passion for sustainability, social entrepreneurship and community development. I was a part of numerous value chain and destination mapping projects in Sri Lanka, China, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste. The quest to find progressive solutions for my region guided me to Sweden and the SI scholarship, where I could expand my organisational skills and establish myself as an ‘Impact Facilitator’ in operations focusing on social sustainability and climate storytelling. I hope my intentions will lead to better outcomes and thereby give others the best chance of improving their lives.

Was your experience in Sweden as you imagined?

As a sustainability advocate, it was heartwarming to see Sweden’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection, with individuals and businesses actively embracing sustainable practices and taking responsibility for minimising their environmental impact. I was fortunate to get hands-on experience on the circular economy approach while working for a Swedish start-up fighting against food waste. Coming into contact with a diverse group of like-minded people certainly exposed me to different cultures and ideas. I now have a network that spans across borders.

What is your most important learning point? Something you take with you for your work to support sustainable development and improve Sri Lanka?

The most empowering thing that happened to me lately was the knowledge imparted to me by my master’s programme. Malmö University allowed me to acquire knowledge around sustainable project management and design thinking with an intersection to social innovation and entrepreneurship. I realised the ability to confront complex issues and design solutions to those issues.

In order to challenge the status quo, it is crucial to involve various stakeholders to facilitate knowledge sharing, resource pooling and collective problem-solving. The startup community in Scania allowed me to create connections with co-founders and industry experts from various parts of the world, who all seek to transform their communities.  

Where do you hope to be 10 years from now? 

I believe that there is great potential for social entrepreneurship and innovation startups to play a vital role in addressing societal challenges and creating a more sustainable and equitable world. In that end, I want to take my personal story of transformation out into the world to make micro disruptions for seismic change. My mission is to create measurable social and environmental impact through a common platform and network that will connect social entrepreneurs, investors and mentors, enabling them to learn from each other and collaborate on a global scale.