The first time you hear about a new impact non-profit The Shortcut, you almost want to ask: Is diversity even a topic we need to discuss about in 2016? Sadly, it is.
In Finland, as in many societies, there are great groups of people with underutilized skills and resources. These include people with diverse backgrounds, such as foreigners and multicultural people, youth, unemployed, asylum seekers and refugees. All of these groups include individuals who haven’t quite found their place in society yet.
Luckily there are people like Anne Badan, co-founder and CEO of The Shortcut, a new impact non-profit organization founded in February 2016, that aims to bring diversity into technology and startup scene.
Based in Helsinki, the mission of The Shortcut is to empower people to create and work for high growth companies and to use technology and entrepreneurship for the benefit of society at large.
“Swelling immigration figures certainly present a challenge, but more importantly, a massive growth opportunity. By applying the lessons learnt in building the Finnish startup ecosystem, it is possible to create a significant mind-shift also in the way immigration and multiculturalism are often perceived,” Badan says.
At Slush, she not only is a keynote speaker at Impact Day, a new fully booked event that draws together over 500 participants representing emerging ecosystems and nations, but also organizer of the panel discussion Diversity as an engine of growth with Moaffak Ahmed, co-founder & Chairman of the Board of The Shortcut, on Wednesday. Badan is also a jury member of the Global Impact Accelerator, and a Pecha Kucha speaker for Helsinki Design Week and Design Forum Finland.
Badan has more than 20 years of experience in business development, marketing and strategic partnerships, and now she designs philanthropic ventures and impact investing projects for private individuals and various organizations such as Aalto University, World Design Capital, and Women’s Bank.
Swiss citizen, of South Korean origins, she has lived in Finland for the past 10 years and worked around the world from North Korea to Burkina Faso, so she really knows what she is talking about.
“Technology is an area particularly suitable for people who are not well-rooted in the local society, due to its international character, cross-cultural markets and mobility of applications”, she explains.
Attitude is the key, and the skills will follow. This is one of the main principles of The Shortcut.
One of the various examples of individuals being inspired and empowered is Ali Hussein Sabr, a pharmacist from Baghdad. From being bored and worried on his bed at the refugee centre, he forgot that he was waiting for his residency and developed his startup idea Gabir, that helps people to take the right medication in a safe way.
He won The Shortcut’s first major event, the Business Ideation Weekend (BIW) in April 2016. From that event onwards everything kickstarted and his network in the Finnish tech and startup scene exponentially expanded. Hussein also was selected to join Slush Global Impact Accelerator’s program as a learning experience.
The community members join the network, learn various skills depending on their own interest: coding, design, project management, pitching, legal issues, and much more.
“It is truly inspiring to be part of such a vibrant, entrepreneurial ecosystem. I hope one day I will be able to give back to the ecosystem the same way that I have received help and support from the experts and professionals in this field,” Hussein says.
The Shortcut is a non-profit sister company to Slush and Startup Sauna, and works with a number of collaborative partners, including Aalto Entrepreneurship Society, Startup Life, and Startup Sauna.
This is how CEO of Slush, Marianne Vikkula, sees its potential:
“Successful societies are able to integrate people from all walks of life to discussion and creation of tomorrow. The Shortcut is making sure that everyone also has this possibility in the future.”
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