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Collaboration in southern Sweden for greater integration through social enterprise

The project Yalla Sofielund


Yalla Sofielund is a Social Fund project run as a partnership between the City of Malmö and the non-profit organisation Yalla Trappan. The project, up and running since May 2016, has already helped participants transition to studies and jobs. But above all, it’s gotten people who had been isolated at home for 15‑20 years to become active participants in community life, with jobs, better skills in Swedish and greater self-esteem. Many are now eagerly queuing up to take part in the project.


“Sofielund has long remained something of a problem area in Malmö, with poverty, crime and social exclusion. At the same time, it’s an area where a lot is going on in different cultural and community associations, and where people show a high level of commitment. There were plenty of vacant buildings in the area, so the Sofielund Property Owners’ Association got in touch with Yalla Trappan, an earlier ESF project in Rosengård that achieved good results with the same target group. This led to the formation of a project partnership between the property owner, the City of Malmö, and the non-profit Yalla Trappan,” says project secretary Maria Svenning.

Taking Yalla Trappan one step forward

Yalla Sofielund builds on Yalla Trappan’s methods and experiences as a jobs-integrating social enterprise, where both societal gains and member gains remain in focus instead of private profit, which is absent from the project. The Yalla Sofielund project has brought with it scaled-up operations and new premises. At the same time, other municipalities gain the opportunity to learn from the successful model since Yalla Sofielund will also become a knowledge centre.

Low educational level and little experience of professional working life

Yalla Sofielund caters to women and men aged 25-64 living in Malmö Municipality who remain farthest away from the labour market. Many of the participants have a non-Swedish background, and a common denominator is a low educational level and little experience of professional working life.


“The participants may have lived in Sweden for 15‑20 years without having entered the labour market. During the three years the project is being run, 220 men and women will get the chance to participate in it. In the long run, the goal of Yalla Sofielund is to become a self-sustaining activity just as Yalla Trappan is,” says Svenning.

Unique collaboration

The project has four objectives: increase the employability of people farthest from the labour market by strengthening the link between education and professional working life; create more jobs for the target group by finding forms of systematic cooperation among industry, municipalities, government agencies and the non-profit sector; boost social, economic and ecological sustainability; and spread Yalla Trappan’s ideas and methods in order to improve the conditions for establishing more social enterprises locally, regionally and nationally.

Learning by doing

Activities are divided into four different workshops: sewing, cleaning, upholstery, and café and catering. The main method that Yalla Sofielund utilises involves the cooperative approach, which focuses on learning by doing. This approach, which includes accountability, participation, collaboration and the ability to influence one’s work, helps strengthen each individual participant’s skills, contributions and opinions, which in turn strengthens their self-esteem and independence.

Discussion groups, training and field trips

In addition to the daily activities in the workshops, the project arranges discussion groups for participants that address issues of labour law and work culture in Sweden. Lessons in social studies and Swedish are provided. The project also maps the individual’s experience and needs, and develops an individual action plan which is followed up every month. Health activities are offered, like walking and relaxation exercises. The project also conducts field trips around town to introduce the participants to social activities that many have felt excluded from in the past.


“Right now, 43 participants are active in the project and seven more are on the way in. So far we’ve had more demand than expected at the café and catering business. And when we had an Open house event recently, hundreds of visitors turned up — many more than expected. This has resulted in greater demand in the city districts to get involved in the project, so people are on a waiting list now,” says Svenning.

Bild i högerkolumnActivity in the project.

Yalla Sofielund

2.3 Improve transition to labour market

South Sweden

Project owner:
Malmö Stad