ÖppnaDörren: From pilot to scale and further on to Axelerate

It all started with a practical challenge: If it takes 7-8 years for a foreign-born person to find a job in Sweden, what can Axfoundation do to help speed up the process? This was obviously too great of a challenge for us to solve on our own. We needed to hook arms and build alliances between sectors if we were going to make an impact. We also needed to test different solutions and quickly achieve scale. This led to Axfoundation creating the integration initiative ÖppnaDörren (OpenTheDoor) in 2015. Five years later, over 59,000 new and established Swedes have met through ÖppnaDörren’s partners Yrkesdörren, Svenska med baby and Nya Kompisbyrån . Of the participants, 24% had landed a job or an internship. We had proven that our approach to change worked: Meetings lead to networks – and networks lead to jobs.

In 2020, in line with Axfoundation’s working model, it was time for the initiatives to expand even further and ÖppnaDörren was incorporated into the Axel Johnson Group’s diversity and inclusion initiative Axelerate. This is the journey from pilot to scale.

Accelerating the integration

Axfoundation’s overall goal with ÖppnaDörren was to generate societal benefits as well as business benefits and individual benefits by accelerating the integration of foreign-born people in the Swedish labor market and in society. The vision was to create a movement of ‘door openers’ that contribute to a more open Sweden. The mission for the incubator ÖppnaDörren was to build capacity and scale up other integration initiatives sharing our approach to change.

“We wanted to channel the public’s commitment to improved integration in the labor market and make it incredibly easy to contribute as a fellow human being. We developed and tested a new method that we have refined and scaled up, both on our own and by collaborating and strengthening organizations that share our theory of change.” – Amelie Silfverstolpe, initiator for ÖppnaDörren.

Meetings lead to networks – and networks lead to jobs

The impact assessment from 2020 shows that ÖppnaDörren has contributed to quicker integration into the Swedish labor market, helped reduce segregation and indirectly helped create jobs through its partner organizations.


new and established Swedes met through the partners of ÖppnaDörren between 2015-2020.


percent had the chance to meet potential employers through meetings facilitated by their door opener.


per cent of those who met an employer landed a job and 19% were offered an internship.

Creating a movement of door openers

The most effective way to get established in a new country is to find a job and learn the language. However, in many cases, finding a job requires a strong network. As many as 8 out of 10 open positions in Sweden are filled with the help of contacts. To make it easier for new Swedes to enter the labor market quickly, Axfoundation served as a greenhouse for three initially small-scale organizations, all matching new and established Swedes for informal face-to- face meetings on an individual level.

Yrkesdörren was initiated and managed by Axfoundation from the start 2015 up until 2020, while Nya Kompisbyrån and Svenska med baby where already existing organizations that Axfoundation chose to support through ÖppnaDörren. The common denominator for all three is that they all have a low threshold for participation: the participants contribute one hour of their time – an hour that has proven to make a big difference to an individual’s ability to get established in Sweden. The meetings can be a coffee, a dinner or an activity with children to talk about jobs or common interests – and sharing networks. These individual level meetings and the informal validation that comes with it, are crucial to speeding up and improving economic and social integration, as well as combating growing levels of segregation.

“Face-to-face meetings, conversations and the opportunity to understand Swedish culture – as well as for Swedes to understand the culture of others – is absolutely crucial for integration.” – Antonia Ax:son Johnson

Building a more open Sweden

ÖppnaDörren’s 2020 impact assessment indicates that the meetings that have taken place have had a positive effect on the ability of the participants to integrate in Sweden.


per cent of the participants say they felt more included in Swedish society after their meetings with a door opener.


per cent of the participants say they understand the Swedish labor market better or much better after their meeting.


per cent of the participants say they have stayed in contact after their first meeting through ÖppnaDörren.

The journey from pilot to scale


Since the start in 2015, ÖppnaDörren has collaborated with a wide range of partners, bridging civil society, businesses, and private individuals. Among them are Apel, Axel Johnson, Centre for Business and Policy Studies (SNS), Demokratikonsult, Dustin, EFFSO, Ernst & Young, The European Social Fund, The Global Village/Järvaveckan, Integrationsnätverket, The Immigrant Index, KICKS, Luckan by Dörren in Finland, Martin & Servera, MittLiv, Nordregio, Ocean Observations, Oriflame, Phil’s burger, Spotify, The Swedish Employment Agency, The Swedish ESF Council, The Swedish Federation of Business Owners (Företagarna), The Union for Professionals (Akademikerförbundet SSR), Urban Deli and Åhléns.

Part of ÖppnaDörren was co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF). The special initiative focusing specifically on “new arrivals” that had not been in Sweden more than three years, started in 2017 with a planned end date of 2022. Already in August 2020, the project reached its targets: more than 4,000 new arrivals in Sweden had met a door opener and broadened their network. Thereby, the collaboration with ESF ended at the same time as ÖppnaDörren was integrated into Axelerate. Co-financing from ESF played an important role in developing Axfoundation’s innovative integration initiative ÖppnaDörren and enabled increased support for partner organizations Yrkesdörren, Nya Kompisbyrån and Svenska med baby.


For further information regarding Axfoundation’s work with integration and ÖppnaDörren, please contact Amelie Silfverstolpe (below). For questions regarding Axel Johnson and Axelerate, please contact Head of Axelerate, Eliza Kücükaslan ().


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