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JAN 2020

Senior researcher:

Business:

Nordic circular economy in Asia

Community:

Celebrating Nordic Christmas

ENVIRONMENT:

Campaign against waste of food

Gender gap among Nordic expats in Asia


January 2020

ScandAsia Stories 22

Monitor ERP System MOU with OCBC Bank to benefit SME’s

Senior Researcher: Nordic companies biased towards female expats

8 Joint Nordic Church Service brought Christmas to Bangkok 17 Ambassador had a fun day 35 Crown Princess Mary visited Indonesia 36 Danish Embassy puts food waste on the menu 40 300 Swedish ladies conquered Dubai

8 28 Satu Vuorio - Finnish Designer in Hong Kong

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35

14 Copenhagen FinTech aims at more continuous presence in Singapore

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Danish Dive Center in Bali

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40 4 ScandAsia • January 2020


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Editorial

Nordic circular economy initiative

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candAsia will in March 2020 focus on Nordic circular economy initiatives and technology in Asia. If you business or your project would like to be featured in this issue, time is fast running out. Please email Project Manager Joakim Persson at joakim.scandmedia@gmail.com ScandAsia’s concept makes our website and magazine an obvious launch pad for story-telling and branding for companies involved with circular economy solutions in Asia. Nordic stakeholders can use this platform to inspire a wave of technological and business model innovation in Asean, which is in need of new technologies, processes and services – as well as new business models. In addition, responsible businesses can share how they conduct or are adapting to such a business models. Nordic countries and companies are already actively exporting business solutions and know-how based on the circular economy platform, via various educational and outreaching activities as well as partnership-building within the Asean countries, where there are vast environmental and other CE- challenges, and with huge needs and opportunities for assistance and new business generation.

While the Nordic countries and their highly regarded expor t companies have a long tradition of developing triedand-tested solutions within recycling and other cutting edge technologies they also have the experience from the journey as former polluters to becoming the role models they are today. Therefore they possess in-depth knowhow and have many related products and solutions. However, when it comes to circular economy they too are just at the beginning of a journey that is now becoming a priority for the countries also here in Southeast Asia. Warm regards

Gregers Moller Editor in Chief

ScandAsia is a printed magazine and online media covering the people and businesses of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland living and working in China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Who should subscribe:

ScandAsia subscribers are typically Nordic expats and companies from the Nordic countries living in and active in Asia. Another group of subscribers are Nordic people living in the Nordic countries who subscribe to ScandAsia for personal or business reasons. We also have many Asian subscribers, who for a wide range of reasons are following the activities of the Nordic expats and companies via a subscription to ScandAsia.

6 ScandAsia • January 2020

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News brief

Nordic church service brings out Christmas spirit in the heart of Bangkok

By Sigrid Friis Neergaard

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rue to tradition, the Danish and Swedish churches in Thailand opened the doors to the Christ Church in Bangkok for a Nordic Christmas service on 24 December 2019. Only this time, the Finnish church was also present to wish everyone a merry Christmas. The ser vice was opened by Finnish Pastor Jyrki Markkanen. Along with Danish Pastor Christa Lund Herum and the Swedish Pastor Erik Stenberg-Roos, he did his best at bringing out the Nordic Christmas spirit. Their biggest obstacle was the Thai heat having people wear shorts and dresses. But by the looks of it, most blondes in Bangkok were gathered at the church as the number of guests reached about 180. In between prayers, Swedish folk music, Norwegian hymns and Finnish readings, Danish saxophonist Jacob Dinesen and singer Yasmin Kierkegaard had everyone tapping

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their feet to the tunes of their jazzy versions of well-known Christmas songs; Winter Wonderland, Let It Snow and All I Want for Christmas Is You. The latter was the closing song, which the duo performed as people left church. The sermon was performed by Danish Pastor Christa Lund Herum who reminded ever yone to appreciate ever y day life with a poem by the late Danish author Dan Turèll. The Gospel Reading was presented in both Swedish, Finnish and Danish with the former being read by the Swedish Ambassador to Thailand, H.E. Staffan Herrström. After the ser vice, attendees were invited for gløgg (mulled wine) and æbleskiver (apple doughnuts) sponsored by Scandinavian Society Siam and delivered by Conrad’s Deli.

News brief

January 2020 • ScandAsia 9


News brief

Nordic Innovation House, Antler partner up

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Text and photos: Joakim Persson

10 ScandAsia • January 2020

uring the Singapore FinTech Festival x SWITCH (Singapore Week of Innovation & Technology) Nordic Innovation House – Singapore (NIH-SG) and Antler also officially cemented their par tnership. A par tnership signing ceremony took place on 13 November in the Nordic pavilion with Sami Jääskeläinen and Jussi Salovaara (CoFounder & Managing Partner Asia), representing NIH-SG and Antler respectively. Siv Jensen, Minister of Finance, Norway, graced the special occasion by attending the occasion, also speaking to Nordic companies at the pavilion. The partnership aims to foster opportunities between startups and mentors from Asia and the Nordics, as well as to develop a vibrant

community and network of mentors, investors and key stakeholders. Antler, with Nordic founders, was founded in Singapore in 2017 as a global start-up generator and early-stage VC that is building the next big wave of tech. Their mission is to turn exceptional individuals into great founders and aim to create thousands of companies globally. Among its milestones to date: 120+ start-ups funded. Nordic Innovation House gives Nordic companies from star t-ups to corporations a head start in the most relevant global innovation hubs. In Singapore NIH-SG functions as a “soft landing incubator” meant to give Nordic companies seeking fortune in Singapore an easier liftoff. It’s meant for small and medium sized companies who are new to


News brief

the Singapore market or companies who see the benefits of a being part of a Nordic community. NIH-SG – a par tner ship between Business Sweden, the S we d i s h E m b a s s y, I n n ov a t i o n Norway, the Finnish Embassy and the Ministr y of Foreign Affairs of

Iceland – became operational in Q1 2019. “We invest at a pre-seed stage in technology companies which are looking to solve large problems and have the potential to scale fast. We bring together aspiring entrepreneurs and help them find their co-founder,

build their business and we invest in them. We have a ver y handson approach and build long term relations with our founders and we want to be with them through every step of their entrepreneurial journey,” commented Jussi, who has a background as Vice President at Nokia’s headquarters in Helsinki. “This involves connecting them to the right people and advisors in each ecosystem. We strongly believe in collaborating and forming strong par tnerships in the ecosystem to build a truly global platform that can help our founders succeed. This involves wor king closely with governments, corporations, foundations and other players in the ecosystem who are passionate about entrepreneur ship. NIH is one such organisation and we look forward to connecting them with mentors and our start-ups both in Asia and the Nordics to create a real network effect where there is a global community. “

January 2020 • ScandAsia 11


News brief

Successful Finnish smart energy, circular economy Thailand delegation Text and photos: Joakim Persson

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Team Finland business delegation, led by Ms. Nina Vaskunlahti, Deputy Minister, Under-Secretar y of State for External Economic Relations,visited Thailand on 30 September to 1 October (followed by Myanmar). Following on the Team Finland export promotion trip to Thailand in 2018, the main purpose this time was to promote cooperation in the fields of smart energy and circular economy. Many companies with strong connections to Thailand or with vast Asian experience were included. Finland has identified that there are countless potential benefits of mutual co-operation between Thai and Finnish companies, describing Thailand as a “rising star in the fields of innovation and sustainability. Thailand has a vast pool of companies operating in the same areas as their Finnish counterparts.” This delegation arranged B2B meetings to explore collaboration oppor tunities in smar t energy and bio and circular economy; biomass; waste management and waste to energy; and smar t grids, with capabilities to solve crucial challenges related to these areas. The Thailand visit ended with a Reception at the Finnish Embassy Residence in Bangkok, where all the delegation companies gave brief introductions: Allu, Betolar, BMH Technology Oy, CS Control Software Oy, Finnfund, Par king Energy, River Recycle, Sepco, St1 Renewable Ener gy (Thailand) Ltd., Uros, Valoe Cor por ation and Wär tsilä Corporation. These range from some of the largest Finnish corporations to mid-sized, innovative technology companies with disruptive business models. 12 ScandAsia • January 2020

Ms. Nina Vaskunlahti, UnderSecretary of State for External Economic Relations, Finland In her welcoming remar ks Finland’s Ambassador Satu SuikkariKleven told the delegates and other guests that she though it had been some really productive days in Bangkok, describing it as “the stepping up of Thai-Finnish cooperation in the field of energy and circular economy”. The ambassador went on to highlight some indexes in which

Finland ranks the highest or ver y high. “In a recently published study Finland is among the three most innovative countries in the field of clean energy and climate action technologies. From what we’ve seen with the Finnish companies here we can underline that this is really the case.” “And the fact that so many Finnish companies have invested


a lot of their effor t and time to come and join this delegation I think shows what kind of interest there is towards all the opportunities here in Thailand,” said the ambassador and added: “During our meetings, the Thai government has showed determination to make reforms that responds also to the environmental challenges.” Deputy Minister Nina Vaskunlahti in her address spoke warmly of the oppor tunities in Thailand and beyond. “We have had two ver y good days meeting with the Thai authorities, industry leaders, business representatives and people from the ministries – looking for the perfect match. I think we have been very successful,” she said. “Thailand is entering its face for 4.0, and who has the answers for 4.0? Finnish companies in this case! And this really is about partnership; there’s a demand and then there are answers -And most of the companies are not first timers – they have a lot of experience and expertise, from Thailand, Asia or from around the world.” “When you are in Thailand you have the oppor tunities; it ser ves as a kind of gateway to the other countries in the region, so I’m sure there will be lots of opportunities, lots of par tnerships,” continued Nina Vaskunlahti. Inter viewed by ScandAsia Nina found it beneficial that almost none of the attending Finnish companieswere newcomers: “They all either are in Thailand or they have been to Asia, so they have understanding of the markets and understanding of the needs here. They knew how to present their case. And they were able to touch the nerve with renewables, saying to the counterpart: ‘We know you have made a commitment to renewables to be this certain percentage of your energy palette, so what is your way to get there? Would we be able to contribute, along the way, in order for you to achieve your target?’” The over all umbrella was sustainable solutions and how to

News brief

Minna Vilkuna, VP, APAC Market Development, BMH Technology Oy tackle climate change solutions in various ways. “In most meetings we had all companies together and it worked out because these were companies that all come from the sector dealing with clean technologies; smar t cities and environmentally-friendly solutions like from waste to energy, how to deal with data and smar t grids, how to recycle plastic, how to turn waste into building material etc.” “And in this delegation we had a good discussion with the Minister of Environment and Natural resources and the Ministry of Energy. We met the advisor of the Prime Minister’s office and with the Governor of Bangkok, which I thought was a very interesting meeting. I have to say that ever ywhere where we went people were ver y well-prepared. So they asked questions and they were interested in what we were presenting;I would say a range of good meetings held that were very beneficial for the companies,” reviewed the Deputy Minister. In par ticular waste to energy and waste to biofuel caught the counterpar ts’ attention. “Waste is a huge problem and there I think it clicked, including how to get rid of plastic, and how to catch it from the rivers, before it reaches the ocean. There, we have start-ups and really

great ideas how to make it happen.” “The feedback I got from the meetings was positive from the companies and we have already agreed on some follow-up actions. It’s a matter between the companies, and at least follow-up meetings were decided and we agreed to have a couple of seminars where we bring the companies and experts together, where they can go deeper into matters. You sor t of express your interest and the other par t expresses interest in what you are saying. Then, follow-up is needed and that is something one has to pay very careful attention to. I know that this is a very competitive market; there are many countries offering solutions. I believe though that ours are the best so I want the Finnish companies to succeed.” Nina Vaskunlahti also found it really positive that some Finnish companies who did not know each other beforehand connected thanks to the delegation. Together, these companies can offer comprehensive solutionsin which you can turn industrial waste into low carbon construction material, or municipal waste, agricultural residues and plastic into sustainable fuel. Together with Thai par tners, they can really have a huge impact on making the society more sustainable. January 2020 • ScandAsia 13


Copenhagen FinTech aims at more continuous presence in Singapore

Text and photos: Joakim Persson

Copenhagen Fintech Association CEO Thomas Krogh Jensen 14 ScandAsia • January 2020

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he largest ever Fintech delegation from Denmark visited Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) in November, comprising a total of 30 companies and 60+ people, exhibiting in the dedicated Danish booth area. At SFF, the world’s largest Fintech event, Denmark’s Ambassador Dorte Bech Vizard cut the ribbon, assisted by Copenhagen Fintech Association’s CEO Thomas Krogh Jensen CEO. Copenhagen FinTech’s vision is to develop Copenhagen as one of the leading Fintech hubs in the global financial ser vices industr y by suppor ting and catalyzing the next era of technology-led corporate and start-up innovators. To this end it is par tnering with other Fintech stakeholders abroad and has established a Global FinTech Alliance Advisory Board. This Board comprises leading strategic financial experts from around the world. Among them are: Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer, Monetar y Authority of Singapore; Dr Justo A. Or tiz, Chairman of the Board Union Bank of the Philippines; and Ray Ferguson, Chairman, Singapore Life. Also, the annual, promotional Copenhagen Fintech Magazine is published in English in partnership with the Danish business newspaper Børsen.


Among its content in 2019 they gathered six Danish Fintech companies, representing 1.6 billion euro in valuation and more than 500+ jobs created in Denmark, that exemplify what makes new Nordic innovation unique – the combination of technology and humancentred design. “They solve real problems for real organizations and real people. Fintech matters, and for Denmark and Copenhagen, it has become a position of strength that we need to nurture and develop further,” states Singapore Fintech. “It’s in English because it needs to have a wider audience and we use it for events, visitors etc. throughout the whole year. It’s a pretty good way to communicate the status of the Fintech ecosystem and the companies, so it works well for us. We help them with the content and some of the ar ticles are paid media and some real content that we produce,” Thomas Krogh Jensen explained to ScandAsia as the big Singapore week 2019 was coming to a close. Copenhagen FinTech’s engagement with Singapore and the rest of Asia keeps on growing. “I think us having a pavilion this year shows how things have progressed; the first year we were a few companies coming and a smaller presence, star ting to build our network here. In 2018 we had a bigger delegation with close to 30 people representing some 15 companies. In this year we have 60 people from 28 companies. So our network has grown a lot here. We’ve seen the first partnerships here; we have companies that established their go-to-market in Singapore. We have also

signed MoUs and also did some partnerships here. We established a global advisory board with representatives from Singapore. So we have a strong local network and have par tners. The embassy has helped us a lot to accelerate that network. And we have some of the Danish Fintech companies, Nordic companies actually, doing business here now,” the CEO summed up the progress so far. “We are very happy with how it has progressed – but it’s a relationship-building region and it takes time to build those connections.” Among his first conclusions from the expanded presence at SFF during 2019 was that having a physical presence at SFF was really good: “We had a lot of visitors and the companies were very happy about it. We had arranged beforehand that some of the big financial institutions and some of the investors and other people would come and visit, so we already had visitors planned to visit the pavilion. And we could see that there was a big interest. We had one of the companies, Solstroem, that is doing this real-time carbon offsetting, being mentioned in the media by the minister here in Singapore.” Thomas also mentioned Matter (which offers a fully automated sustainability screening and repor ting solution) among the companies getting a lot of attention. “It has certainly been good for us to have the pavilion. Key persons are coming and we’ve had key persons here from ADB and major local financial institutions from all over the region, so it’s a really good way for us to build our network in the region, but also outside – the Middle East was heavily represented, and of course many of the

January 2020 • ScandAsia 15


European banks have a Singapore presence so we also engage with them while we are here.” “I think it’s a very efficient way for us to engage with the whole of Southeast Asia. For instance, we have a Union Bank Philippines representative in our advisory board that we met here last year. And we’re also tapping into the ecosystems in Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia etc., and then we know that in order to really do business we need to go there, but it’s a good way of star ting relationships,” he added, while it has also been “resourcedemanding and time consuming”. The Embassy of Denmark in Singapore, together with the Copenhagen FinTech Association, also arranged three events during SFF and the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH). ‘The Art of Partnering for Innovation’, held at ING Innovation Lab, was a workshop focusing on how one can use strategic par tnerships and other vehicles to accelerate one’s innovation as a larger financial institution. The Nordic perspective was presented, based on both research on the topic as well as having three cases sharing their experiences with partnerships. A ‘Sustainability Thought Leader Forum’ was also held for the first time in Singapore by Denmark, zooming in on how financial technology can help solve some of the world’s pressing environmental challenges. Denmark and the Nordics are frontrunners in sustainable development, where their shared vision reflects a longstanding Danish and Nordic tradition of pursuing solutions that are sustainable in the long run, now bridging also with Southeast Asia to learn from each other. Finally, ‘Ethical AI’ was hosted by SAXO Markets. Denmark and the Nordics aims to be front-runners in 16 ScandAsia • January 2020

responsible development and use of artificial intelligence – benefitting individuals, businesses and society as a whole. The Danish National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence seeks to create a framework for companies, researchers and public authorities that allow them to exploit the potential of ar tificial intelligence with a high level of responsibility. “The ethical AI event was super good with one Singapore university professor as speaker. Around 250 people attended the three side events,” said Thomas. Looking ahead he commented:“We will evaluate; but we got really good feedback so far and the engagement with Singapore works very well. We’re looking into how we can build on that even more in 2020. Also, I think the next steps for us will be to look at how we can build a more continuous presence and on a more continuous level send out companies, and make them to go to market in Asia and Southeast Asia and keep on building that network and those relations here.” A few Danish companies have also already, or are about to establish own presence in Singapore. “We definitely see that if there’s one region that Danish/Nordic companies should be looking towards, it’s Asia. The impor tance of Asia and the volume and how much this region is evolving is just massive. The markets are super interesting, but also ver y diverse. China, Singapore, Japan and Philippines – just to mention a few that are very different countries. It’s difficult to just say ‘Asia’ as a whole but it’s a very big market and so much is happening here so we’re very engaged with Asia in general. It’s definitely the region where we throw in the most resources by far. I think it should be shifted; Asia is more interesting at least in some areas than the U.S.”


News brief

Ambassador had a fun day with children from Touch community services

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.E. Mrs Dorte Bech Vizard, Danish Ambassador to Singapore invited 17 kids from Touch Community Ser vices for a tour around Garden by the bay’s Flower Dome to see the Nordic Poinsettia Wishes and tell the stories behind Danish Christmas traditions and togetherness on 19th December 2019. The day ended at the Ambassador’s residence where ever ybody enjoyed Danish apple doughnuts ‘æbleskiver’, cookies and some good old Christmas ‘hygge’. Happy holidays!

Novo Nordisk at world diabetes day in Cuezon city Philippines

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uring the recent celebration of Wor ld Diabetes Day, global healthcare company Novo Nordisk Philippines together with the Lions Clubs of the Philippines, Quezon City local government, American Association of Clinical Endocrinology, Institute for the Study of Diabetes Foundation Inc., Diabetes Philippines, Institute of Reproductive Health, and communities in Metro Manila gathered to show suppor t for the cause of promoting diabetes prevention, control, and management on 14th November 2019. To mark this advocacy with the goal of winning against diabetes,

a Guinness world record attempt was made at the Quezon City Memor ial Circle where 3,347 people simultaneously opened blue umbrellas while in a circular formation, writes Manilastandard. Cihan Serdar Kizilcik, vice president and general manager for Novo Nordisk Philippines announced during his speech at the event that: “We believe that half of the people who live with diabetes are not aware they have diabetes, and of the half who know they have diabetes, only half get treatments,” Johanah Co, a patient who has been living with type 1 diabetes for 18 years, shared how she faced several challenges that were detrimental to her health and the emotional burdens diabetes has caused her, during the press conference. “We are advocates because we have embraced and owned up

to our diabetes. We also have seen those who struggled because they cannot afford medication. From our government, we hope for insulin and test strips reimbursement just like in other countries with universal healthcare,” Ms. Co said Medical or ganizations are doing their par t in spreading infor mation campaigns about diabetes, sending specialists to aid government hospitals, putting up diabetes clinics, and reaching out to far-flung communities. The Ambassador of Denmark to the Philippines Ambassador Grete Sillasen also graced the event and expressed her suppor t for raising awareness of diabetes in the Philippines. She shared some of the milestones the city of Copenhagen has achieved in order to have healthier communities such as the construction of bike lanes to encourage people to exercise daily. January 2020 • ScandAsia 17


Swedish hub Findec partners up in Singapore

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By Joakim Persson uring the recent Singapore Fintech Festival (SFF) Sweden’s Stockholm-based hub for Fintech companies, Findec, signed a partnership, MoU, with Singapore Fintech Association (SFA). “The purpose with this collaboration is to open up a bridge between Singapore and Sweden so that we can work better; share information, technology and companies; and ensure a better business flow between the countries,” Findec’s Mats Holmfedt informed, who also held at presentation at the Nordic Innovation House Singapore (NIH-SG) during SFF. “We now have a partnership locally to help scale the Swedish innovation companies towards Singapore. At the same time Findec has collaborations with all the Nordic countries so we can also help to promote the whole of Nordics. With the Singapore agreement in place we can now we can see scaling opportunities, where we can help each other in promoting the Nordics in a better way,” he told ScandAsia. Via this agreement Findec also anticipates increased queries regarding the Nordic market, and that can be shared with the colleagues in the respective countries. 18 ScandAsia • January 2020

Findec’s purpose is to boost Sweden’s financial technology ecosystem through network, knowledge and collaboration. “Our mission is to drive innovation, attract funding and then faster time to market,” says Mats who is Findec’s Chairman & Founding Partner. The counterpart, the non-profit SFA, functions as a platform designed to facilitate collaboration between all market participants and stakeholders in the FinTech ecosystem. It represents the Fintech industr y and supports the building of relationships within the Fintech community and collaborates with international FinTech organizations. Although Findec collaborates with several regions in the world, having one foot in Asia is of high priority: “We are focusing extra on the collaboration between the Nordics and Asia. And that is based on one reason; that there is enormous growth potential out here. If you look at innovation in general we can see that the Nordics rank highly regarding innovation, but so does Southeast Asia so there is a good match with that. We have a fairly long history looking at how the Nordics and Sweden connected with Southeast Asia, with our old corporations having done business going back up to 70


years back in time, and we would like to build on that with new technology that we are exporting today,” states the Swede. “At the festival we have with us a number of our Fintech companies, who are members, and some we have seen here at Nordic Innovation House presenting their business ideas. The purpose with them coming here is to get exposed to this region and utilize this trade show and [NIH-SG] as a platform to network with potential customers and collaborators.” “Aside that, there is also an oppor tunity to find potential investors,” adds Mats. “When it comes to bringing one’s business idea to Asia, an important part, in addition to the necessity of establishing oneself locally and showing that one is locally established and that one has local employees, is to find regional investors. And not only money but also intellectual capital, so that one acquires access to networks and knowledge how to conduct business here, e.g. investors who can assist in opening not only doors but also generate business.” Mats says that this whole potential is what makes this entire region (with its large population and solid

growth) so interesting. A bonus is also that 25 per cent of all citizens in Asia are unbanked: “If the new technologies can help these countries in catering to this share of their populations you can get an exponential growth on top of what is already high growth in these countries.” “The large challenge and also opportunity is to bring the Swedish companies here and connect them with the network we have here on site, so they can get an opportunity to grow in Asia instead of only in Sweden.” And from a Swedish Fintech perspective there are well-known stories to build on; with the BankID, Swish and the cashless society among the track record. “Many delegations travel to Sweden in order to learn more about this and we’ve had a number of delegations from Asia coming to visit us in Stockholm. So there is large interest and by coming here to the market with new Swedish fintechs and start-ups–the next generation–we can continue to leverage on the story that already exists with the strong brand we actually have.” “There is a lot of trustwor thiness that we want to utilize and the network we have out here via our embassies, Business Sweden etc., so there are many stakeholders that we can lean against and collaborate with in order to reach more trust on the market. We can make difference and become a trusted partner when it comes to delivering new technology. We can then get the opportunity to be invited to dialogues when one is considering how to develop something within a certainly country, for instance.” “When it comes to financial services it is important that we assist in reaching the financial super visor y authority in the respective countries, the central banks, the large banks and other authorities, be it a digitalisation authority or some par t working with digitalisation, communication etc.,” continues Mats. These start-ups can also relatively easily establish their foothold in Singapore thanks to that NIH-SG exists. “We have a partnership via NIH-SG, which is the umbrella organisation for the Nordic countries here. There is an opportunity to rent space there, and we can get leverage on site.” For the next SFF in 2020 Mats promises to bring even more Findec member companies to Singapore, as part of the Nordics’ joint initiative: “I think we should continue building on this, profiling Nordic Innovation House Singapore and actually work together with them.” And to attend SFF is no longer just one of many fintech events in the world. “It has increased rapidly to over 60,000 this year so it fills the whole Expo with the various banks, national pavilions and Fintech companies, It’s the world’s largest and it feels like the whole world is travelling here, so if one wants a taste for what is happening right now and look into the future, this is probably the place to be. And while we from Sweden travel here to network with Asia we also find business partners or contacts from other parts of the world, which means that the business deals being made here are also global.” January 2020 • ScandAsia 19


Nordic Innovation House Singapore reception celebrated success

Text and photos: Joakim Persson

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s the week-long Nordic activities was drawing to a close in Singapore–probably the most important week of year for the Nordics in Singapore–during Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) x Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH) a Nordic Innovation House reception took place at the Swedish Ambassador HE Mr Niclas Kvarnström’s Residence. All the par ticipants in the Nordic delegations, along with other local and international guests were in attendance to network fur ther and reflect on the events and input everyone had gained from the very hectic week full of pitches, business meetings, seminars and attending the SFF x SWITCH conference for three whole days. “This is a Nordic event and I have to say that we have a fantastic Nordic cooperation here,” began the Swedish ambassador. “Sometimes we are at the Swedish residence and sometimes with Finland, Norway or Denmark and we should not forget Iceland. If I may add we also have Estonia here tonight.”

20 ScandAsia • January 2020

“But the most impor tant thing I want to say is: Singapore always looks for the best solutions; what’s most interesting most cutting edge. And they are particularly attracted to small smart nations. And that really goes for all the Nordic countries and also for Estonia. And particularly I think Finland epitomises this. They’re sort of punching above your weight, staying ahead in terms of technology,” he said addressing Finland’s minister in attendance. “Second, we should all be impressed by Singapore when it comes to Switch and the Fintech Festival. We have had delegations there from the very start and it has grown into something larger than life, now this year with 60 000 participants and one thousand exhibitors – that’s incredible, that’s the world’s largest fintech festival by far. So it’s been fantastic. I’ve been out there at the Expo to feel the buzz. There are interesting things to look at everywhere but the most interesting is of course the Nordic pavilion!” exclaimed Mr Kvarnström. He also highlighted the fact that the Nordics had managed to put together three different groups in


This is a Nordic event and I have to say that we have a fantastic Nordic cooperation here

Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Katri Kulmuni segments that they are really good at: Fintech, Healthtech and Circular Economy & Energy. “For all of the Nordic countries here in Singapore sustainability is one of the main priorities, one of the things we work the most on and an area where I know that Singapore has devoted increasing attention to,” he commented on the last segment. Antti Vänskä, Finland’s Ambassador to Singpore stated that he agreed on all the things that the hosting ambassador had said and added: “I want to emphasize that I’m a big fan of Nordic cooperation; that is something that we need to do and do all the time and not only here but in many places. And I definitely see the benefit of a lot of Nordic cooperation. Quite often the Nordics MUST co-operate, and it’s fruitful and fun.” He thanked the Swedish ambassador for hosting the event and was honoured to invite the next speaker of the evening, Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Katri Kulmuni. “I am very delighted to be here this evening. It brings a great chance to see how well the Nordic co-operation

works. I come from the border and went to school in Sweden, so I am very glad to see how well the it works.” “We have a joint mission to enable support and boost international cooperation in general, and being minister of economic affairs I would like to add: ESPECIALLY in business and innovation. WE encourage our companies and organisations to establish their operations here in Singapore to access further Southeast Asian markets.” “This week is full of dynamic programmes and the dynamic spirit of Singapore brings us golden opportunities, no doubt on that,” she concluded as she thanked the Nordic Innovation House and all the other par ties involved in the arrangements. Nordic Innovation House Singapore’s ver y own Community Director, Mr Sami Jääskeläinen then highlighted two key words in his address: collaboration and the mindset. “First, this was the first full year for Nordic Innovation House here in Singapore and obviously that means we all have our own ways of working and doing things and now this was the first time when the Nordics were coming together to do these things together. This means finding those common ways of working processes and learning even more about each other. That requires a lot of collaboration and coordination.” “We managed to get 33 companies from the Nordics this week,” he continued and shouted: “I think we managed to create a big buzz about Nordics in Singapore this week, right!?” “The second thing, and even more impor tant, is the mindset. If you have the mindset in place, the rest is just execution. Just... Truly, this has happened this year in Singapore, between Business Sweden, Innovation Norway, Finnish Embassy, Promote Iceland and of course with the help of all the Ambassadors and embassies, and we would not be able to do this without the right mindset and right Nordic collaboration,” concluded Sami. January 2020 • ScandAsia 21


Monitor ERP System OCBC Bank MOU to support SMEs

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By Joakim Persson n 27 November the Monitor ERP System’s Malaysian subsidiary landed yet another milestone for 2019 by entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with OCBC bank. This new partnership will enable lending support to SMEs wishing to purchase the Swedish cutting-edge ERP system for manufacturing. “Financing of software is, as we all know, very rare. So we do hope that with this initiative we will be able to make it easier for the SMEs to better prepare themselves for the competitive future to come,” said Monitor’s Managing Director Daniel Häggmark at the MoU signing ceremony. YAB Chow KonYeow, the Chief Minister of Penang described this new MoU as an initiative undertaken by FMM (Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers) Penang – not only to assist FMM members in the SME sector but all SMEs in the state and even in the country. “I understand that Monitor ERP System has a long and committed collaboration with the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers. I believe that Monitor’s

22 ScandAsia • January 2020

par tnership with OCBC bank to provide customised financing to the local SMEs to purchase the proprietary Monitor ERP system is a great initiative for the local SMEs. For SMEs cost is a very sensitive issue and they have to be prudent about costs. By initiating this partnership I believe it will help the SMEs to take the needed steps forward,” he said. “Penang’s thriving industry would not have been possible with the robust supply chain, which is supported by more than 3,000 SMEs in Penang alone, so you’re looking at very big numbers and how many of these SMEs have a working system to help them? Maybe 15 per cent. We’re still looking at a very big number of SMEs to embark on this journey of improving the management of their business,” continued the Chief Minister. “SMEs are vendors and suppliers to our 300 MNCs’ [multinational corporations] operating in Penang. So as MNCs have to upgrade themselves to meet Industry 4.0 they expect SMEs to do likewise; if not they will not be able to support the MNCs’ operation. It has now become a necessity, not a choice for SMEs to upgrade themselves


– and a system like ERP software will definitely help them to meet the challenges.” “So I think further collaboration between Monitor ERP System and local manufacturers can further strengthen Penang’s competitiveness as a global manufacturing hub. When we go out to attract investment we can say that SMEs have ERP software to help them to meet your needs. This will definitely be an attractive proposition for Penang as we attract investment here. I hope this initiative will give the extra boost to assist SMEs in Penang to transition towards Industry 4.0.” Daniel Häggmark had the same ambition: “I want to express this: our only intention with this partnership is to help the SMEs become more competitive. Anyone, and then I mean anyone, that can contribute and help the SMEs should do so. Why? Because it will benefit us all. The more our SMEs can grow, can compete on a global market, the more it will benefit everyone. SMEs are the backbone of our economy, both in the state of Penang and in Malaysia.” “We are very proud of this partnership and we are really looking forward to working closely with OCBC on the occasions where our customers need financial support in order to become more competitive. We feel very honoured that OCBC chose to work with us and we would like to thank you for the focus that you put on the SMEs,” he continued. “Monitor has built up a very strong financial position after being market leader in Sweden for many years. That in combination with a great track record of successful implementations here in Malaysia I believe gave OCBC the trust and security they need before entering this partnership.” The MD also outlined Monitor ERP System’s own track record, going back over 45 years, in contributing to the success of SMEs with manufacturing in Sweden as we

well as in Asia. “From day one Monitor ERP System worked with manufacturing SMEs, every day. We have built a solution that 40% of the SMEs in Sweden are using to run their businesses, complete business, from sales order, purchase orders, warehouse and logistics, production planning and shop floor all the way to finance.” “For those who don’t know, an ERP System is the heart and lungs of an organisation. In an era of the 4th industrial revolution, where integrations between new technologies and automations are served at the breakfast table, you’d better be prepared and have full control of our processes - not only production processes but all your administrative processes as well. This is where the ERP system is a necessity. If you put in new technologies supposed to help you to produce faster and with better quality, but you don’t have full control of our whole supply chain and warehouse, then I can guarantee that you will not see any positive changes on your bottom line. Most probably it will give the opposite effect. SMEs in Sweden and Germany have used ERP systems going back many decades.They have absolute control of all their processes. In Malaysia around 20 per cent are using such a system. So before companies here start to look for all the new available technologies and solutions, I would strongly recommend to build aproper and solid foundation first. And here the ERP system plays a very important role.” “Last but not least I look forward to the partnership between the business community and the state government to continue realising the Penang 2030 Vision. We have been talking about the state’s persistent emphasis of advanced readiness of the manufacturing industry for the digital age and Penang can definitely be a role model that inspires the nation in modernising the country’s manufacturing industry,” ended YAB Chow KonYeow.

Monitor ERP System Malaysia MD Daniel Häggmark

YAB Chow KonYeow, Chief Minister of Penang January 2020 • ScandAsia 23


Nordic expat gender gap in Asia There is a gender gap among Nordic expats in Asia which indicates that few Nordic women are getting the foreign experience needed to advance to corporate leadership positions. By Anniken Celina Grinvoll

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he number of female Nordic expats working in Asia is much less compared to Nordic men, indicating that few Nordic women get the sought after international experience necessary to advance to corporate leadership positions.While large Nordic corporations are focused on increasing gender diversity in the workplace and placing more women into leadership positions. With foreign experience a criteria for top leadership positions and placement in the talent pool of potential top candidates. The current low rate of Nordic female expats taking on foreign assignment opportunities is out of sync with an increasing demand of international experience.

Women expats

Statistics of Nordic female business expats in Thailand 24 ScandAsia • January 2020

provided by the Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai Police, shows that females constitute about 20 % of the total Nordic expats in Thailand. This figure is in line with the repor ted 20 % of women expatriates worldwide according to PwC. Showing that in general women are underrepresented in expat postings worldwide.

Foreign experience needed

Large Nordic corporations often require foreign experience for career development within their organization, and as criteria to obtain top management positions. A prerequisite that is not likely to decline anytime soon due to increased need of international knowledge in line with global expansion. This is in line with a global trend, confirmed by a


study conducted by PwC. For global companies, future leadership development increasingly requires employees to have international experience and competencies. 77% of companies confirmed that global acumen skills are a requirement for advancement, and 60% of companies use foreign assignments to develop their succession pipeline for future leaders. Cross-cultural skills and foreign experience are also increasingly in demand in the boardroom, especially as companies pursue new business oppor tunities in emerging markets. The same study shows however, that only 22 % out of 134 global mobility executives are actively trying to increase the number of internationally mobile women. Not being sent on an international assignment may limit a woman’s career growth since they do not gain the foreign experience most often required to advance in their career. They will simply never land up in the talent pool by the time it’s time to consider a candidate for a top position.

Nordic companies about foreign experience

ScandAsia talked to two leading Nordic companies with presence in many countries within Asia, which both have stated their commitment to develop more female leaders within their organization. Telenor Group, the Norwegian telecommunications company, has received much media attention over the past few years in Norway in regards to a lack of women in leadership positions, particularly senior level positions, and has faced pressure from it’s major shareholder, the Norwegian government to increase the rate of female leaders. We asked Telenor if foreign experience is a criteria for advancing to leadership and senior management positions within their organization and this is what they said: “For some leadership positions, international experience will clearly be a key factor in the assessment, and will also be an important part of the considerations,” says Tormod Sandstø, Director of Media relations at Telenor Group. Telenor have Nordic expat women posted in most of their five Asian markets as well as their regional Singapore office, with several women in director level positions. “We do not see any difference in gender when it comes to accepting assignments abroad,” answers Tormod upon our question if Telenor has any difficulties to get women to accept assignments in Asia. “We always encourage our employees to build wider competence by seeking experiences from different markets and parts of Telenor. We think such experience gives benefits both for personal development, but also for companies and the culture in Telenor,” says Tormod. Saab, the Swedish defense and security company, has these past years been focused on increasing gender

We do not see any difference in gender when it comes to accepting assignments abroad,” answers Tormod upon our question if Telenor has any difficulties to get women to accept assignments in Asia

Tormod Sandstø, Telenor. January 2020 • ScandAsia 25


Benjamin Bader, Newcastle University Business School.

Johan Öberg, Saab Group.

diversity within their organization in a traditionally maledominated industr y. Saab won the Industr y equality award in 2016 awarded by The Industr y Council of Sweden for their efforts to create an equal workspace for men and women with achievements in increasing the female workforce and the female leadership rate. Saab currently has no female expats among their Nordic expats, in any of their eight Asian markets. However, Saab’s spokesperson Johan Öberg said this: “We promote international experience as a development activity. Not only for career advancement but to strengthen a culture of trust, inclusion and collaboration across the Saab Group.” Asked whether foreign experience is a criteria for advancing to leadership positions within Saab, they had this to say: “It is a criteria for certain leadership positions, depending on where in the business the position is placed together with what the current needs and future plans of that team or unit are and what leadership is required,” said Johan Öberg, Media Relations Manager at Saab. Both companies state foreign experience as a key aspect to career development and advancement to leadership positions. Other Nordic global companies also have this prerequisite in line with the global industry trend.

processes so that women are simply not asked, the organization has no overview of who is willing to take on foreign assignments which results in them not being asked, there is a general assumption that women with children do not want to take on foreign assignments, there is lack of a female role model with a successful career after a foreign assignment in the organization, women do not want to put their partner’s high income at risk and have them join as accompanying partner. Mercer, the global Human Resources consulting company, reports barriers pertaining to unconscious bias and assumptions about women’s suitability to relocate to cer tain areas and willingness in taking on foreign assignments. These assumptions may be due to women’s assumed roles at pivotal life stages such as being newly married and possibly about to start a family. However, these are just assumptions and not established facts. Fur ther research shows that women are quite interested in the oppor tunity of going abroad on a foreign assignment, similar to men. They see it as a great opportunity for their career and personally. Women tend not to self-initiate the opportunity as much as perhaps men do, but willingness to take on an assignment if it is offered is there. However, opportunities often arise with little, or no, advance planning and employees, both men and women at pivotal life stages may not accept an assignment. This barrier continues to be higher for women than men.

Barriers

There can be many reasons for not seeing more Nordic women on expat assignments in Asia today. Findings of a global PwC study shows top barriers to underrepresentation of women in foreign assignments as following: there is bias in the companies selection 26 ScandAsia • January 2020

Cultural barrier

Another barrier towards female expats working in Asia, is that there may be prejudice of the host country towards


female expatriates and international leadership present in some Asian countries. With cultural, social and gender barriers their male colleagues will not face. Intercultural trainer Dean Foster, who has played a central role in the development of the field of crosscultural training, has observed that times are changing although slowly, depending upon the degree to which a culture has been involved in the process of globalization and has said that: “Typically, and as is the case increasingly in globalized Asian cultures like Japan and the large international cities of Asia, such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, etc., foreign businesswomen are seen first according to their role as business people, secondly as representatives of their culture, and thirdly according to their gender as women.”

Expatriate glass ceiling

Dr. Benjamin Bader, Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at Newcastle University Business School and Strategic Advisor to the RES Forum for international HR & mobility professionals, has done extensive research on HR and global mobility issues over the years and gives his opinion on the root problem of why we are not seeing more women on expatriate assignments today. Bader refers to the glass ceiling which is a metaphor for the barriers women face in reaching leadership positions. “We are here talking about an expatriate glass ceiling that prevents women from receiving the foreign assignments and management experience that has become key for advancing to senior leadership positions. It seems like an old boys network within companies,

where it is much harder for women to enter these networks and get the offers to go on foreign assignments. The root of the problem already starts there,” says Bader. “It is not only HR to blame in the process but also the line managers and supervisors that needs to help women early on in their career to get into leadership positions.” “Women are struggling in other work aspects as well, with equal pay, with advancing to leadership positions, and to get equal opportunities like going on a foreign assignment is just another. This needs to change.” “Get rid of the gender bias!” is Bader’s urge to corporations.

Organizational evaluations

Organizational evaluations of whether selection processes are good enough, unbiased and not based on assumptions might need to happen within some Nordic corporations. Changes and improvements to processes might be due in order to see an increase in the rate of Nordic women taking on foreign assignments, and getting the essential foreign experience needed. If companies are to remain serious about wanting to advance more women into leadership positions by current prerequisites they might need to examine if they are doing enough to develop a strong leadership pipeline and help themselves succeed. If women are not given the right oppor tunities and support early on in their careers, their chances of advancing into top roles are even lower.

January 2020 • ScandAsia 27


A Finnish designer in Hong Kong:

Satu Vuorio

Mid-Levels. That is the rather unimaginative name given to the residential area half-way up Hong Kong’s famously steep Victoria Peak. Residents enjoy the use of the world’s longest outdoor escalator system which takes them down to bustling Central in the mornings but changes direction after 10.00 am.

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By Colin Rampton nfortunately the Mid-Levels escalator was in some state of disrepair when I made my mid-morning ascent to Satu Vuorio’s studio, which she shares with her writer husband. It is on a lower floor of her apar tment building near the escalator’s summit. My breathlessness was soon forgotten after spending a few moments in Satu’s company. The warm welcome, easy manner and animated enthusiasm contributed to a very enjoyable morning spent with her.

28 ScandAsia • January 2020

Early Days

Satu grew up in the small town of Espoo, just a stone’s throw from Helsinki. After an outdoor childhood enjoying the beauty of the nearby forests and lakes, mostly in the company of her identical twin Sari, Satu embarked upon a design course at Helsinki’s University of Industrial Arts (now Aalto University). Just before graduation, she and Matti, a fellow student, were chosen to take advantage of a six-month internship organized by W. H. Chow – then Hong Kong’s Honorary Consul for Finland.


The two young Finns were based in Hong Kong but travelled extensively into nearby regions of China in order to research factory facilities. That was in 1992, and through connections made during this time, she was offered a job by local company Prima Design Systems. The company developed award winning computer software for the design of knitwear and fashion items. Satu’s role was to manage the design and support team. While at Prima, she met her future husband, Hong Kong environmental engineer James Tam.

A Creative Venture

After ten years at Prima – three years at the French owned Lectra Systems, and the birth of a baby girl – Satu set free her creative instincts and founded her current enterprise, Saaradesign (named after her late grandmother). Through the company, Satu has been able to develop her design skills in a different direction. She showed me some of the company’s products – elegant hardwearing ceramic tableware in a variety of sizes and colors, reflecting Nordic simplicity and practicality. As she says: “A good design balances style and function and should be for everyone.” Saara items are sold in various outlets in Hong Kong including Sverigeshoppen in the tourist area of Tsim Sha Tsui, and the Prestige Christmas Fairs at the Conrad Hotel. Sometimes Satu shares ‘Pop-ups’ which are temporary outlets in which empty commercial premises are utilized for up to a month. In the future she intends to offer Saara tableware for purchasing online.

Satu has not abandoned the world of computer aided design totally. She is currently very excited about a breakthrough in knitting technology that she has been involved with. Her work, with the local company ASP Creation, has aided the development of a software that enables the knitting of one-piece seamless sweaters. It is something like 3D-knitting and, according to Satu, a revolutionary development the first of its kind worldwide

Hong Kong Life

While maintaining her Finnish roots and being proudly patriotic, Satu has embraced the bustle of her adopted home, and after more than twenty-five years in the Territor y she is committed to Hong Kong. She is emotional about the recent political turmoil, describing it as “heartbreaking.” The troubles have not made her want to leave, however. “Although Finland remains my homeland, Hong Kong is my home and I love it here.” James’ relatives have welcomed Satu with open arms and her ready smile and friendly disposition have ensured warm relationships with her in-laws. She is an accomplished cook who thinks nothing of entertaining James’ many relatives during local festivals such as Chinese New Year. She has embraced Hong Kong culture and after more than twenty years in the Mid-Levels apartment, feels very integrated in her locality. Satu’s family includes a bonus daughter Claire, who is in her twenties and currently working in Canada as a graphic designer, and daughter Saara, now 15 who studies locally with the English Schools Foundation. The family

January 2020 • ScandAsia 29


members are truly international and Saara effortlessly switches between Finnish, English and Putonghua (Mandarin). Satu has also been learning Mandarin. Her linguistic skills are impressive and include Finnish, Swedish, English and German.

Finnish Ties

I asked Satu what she missed about Finland. It was no surprise, that she mentioned the clean air, wooded countr yside and friendly people. But she also fondly recalled cold, dark winter days with their unique stillness and the way in which they made her feel calm and close to nature. The contrast to Hong Kong is extreme but Satu returns regularly for a Finnish ‘fix’. She also misses fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and her favorite dark rye bread. Of course, family and friends are greatly missed, but the frequent visits help to alleviate this. She maintains ver y close contact with sister Sari, and the intense bond established between the twins since babyhood is rekindled as soon as they are back in each other’s company. Satu displays some typical Finnish characteristics. A love of home and family, a calm non-pushy gentility, and a strong work ethic were all conveyed during our conversation. Satu practices yoga techniques and meditation daily to relax from her hectic schedule. She is also an advocate of Chinese traditional cures and remedies and she often calls upon a Chinese Medicine 30 ScandAsia • January 2020

Practitioner (from Holland!) The Hong Kong Finnish community is only a few hundred strong and while Satu maintains good friendships with fellow countrywomen, she has friends of many nationalities. Satu has noticed that fewer Finns are relocating and sadly she thinks that Hong Kong’s political upheavals will do lasting damage to the region’s commercial attractiveness.

A Cup of Chinese Tea

After our conversation, I was invited upstairs to Satu’s lovely home with its outdoor area of greenery – a true oasis amidst the towering blocks of Mid-Levels. I was warmly greeted by James who has recently retired from engineering to embark upon his second career as an author. He has already had two books published and is working on a third. Satu produced fine Chinese tea and a delicious home-made blueberry cake and the three of us chatted amicably before I took my leave. The path next to the escalator can be taken at a brisk pace downwards. As I strode, I looked at my watch and was astounded that two and a half hours had passed in the twinkling of an eye. I had that warm feeling which comes after spending time with an exuberant and truly likeable person – and Satu is certainly one of those. For further information about Satu’s products please visit www.saaradesign.com.hk


Norwegians can now have dual citizenship

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o r we g i a n c i t i ze n w h o wish to become a citizen of another countr y can now do that without loosing their Norwegian citizenship. On January 1 2020, a new law came into effect in Norway, allowing Norwegian nationals to have double citizenship. Norway will not take away the Norwegian citizenship when becoming a citizen of another countr y. And Norwegians do not need to apply to the Norwegian authorities to keep their Norwegian property tax either.

News brief

A new digital video series has been produced and ready on the website of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI. no). The only condition, which may become a problem, is, that in order for a Norwegian to be able to have double citizenship, the second country must also accept this. Read more information about the law read here: https://www.udi. no/en/impor tant-messages/newsregarding-dual-citizenship/

Phillippines air force considering Swedish Saab Gripen Jas39 to boost national air defence system

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h e P h i l i p p i n e s ’ D e fe n s e Secretar y, Delfin Lorenzana told reporters in the evening of 16th December that the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is evaluating two kinds of multirole fighter (MRF) aircraft, one from Sweden and another from the United States to boost the national air defense system. . The Swedish-made Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light single engine MRF with speeds of up to Mach 2.0, armed with a 20-mm automatic cannon, and can be equipped with rockets, missiles, bombs and surveillance equipment. The American General Dynamics F-16V also has a top speed of Mach 2.0 with the same armament of a 20mm cannon, and can likewise carry bombs, missiles and sensors.

The acquisition of Multirole fighter (MRF) jets is part of the revised Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program horizon two, which is aimed at procuring more equipment for the country’s external defence, according to Philippines Daily Inquirers. The MRF are expected to beef up the Philippine Air Force fleet of 12 South Korean-made FA-50PH light combat aircraft.

January 2020 • ScandAsia 31


Danish owned diving center in Bali With the slogan “come as a stranger, leave as a friend,” Amed Jepun Divers on the island of Bali in Indonesia sees many return visitors. The small dive shop is the brainchild of a Danish and Canadian couple Kira Strand Hald and Serge Desrosiers who in 2015 decided to throw caution to the wind and follow their dreams. By Anita Surewicz

32 ScandAsia • January 2020


We met on Gili Trawangan, an island just off the coast of Bali, scuba diving; Serge was my Open Water course instructor. A bit of a cliché, but that’s how it happened. I was still studying at the time and about to write my thesis.

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ocated in the coastal town of Amed, around a three-hour drive nor theast of Ngurah Rai International Airport, Amed Jepun Divers offers courses from beginner to divemaster level at some of the most famous dive spots in Bali, if not the world. And while Kira says that she misses her family and friends in Denmark, she is not looking back. “I have no regrets. I follow my gut instinct and so far it hasn’t gotten me into too much trouble. In many ways, I’m an ‘all in or all out’ type of person.” Kira grew up in a small town of around 10,000 people called Espergaerde 40 kilometers north of Copenhagen. As a girl, she spent a lot of time on the beach and in the stable with her horses before moving to the capital to work and study. During the summer of 2013, she traveled to Indonesia where she met her future business and life partner, Serge. “We met on Gili Trawangan, an island just off the coast of Bali, scuba diving; Serge was my Open Water course instructor. A bit of a cliché, but that’s how it happened. I was still studying at the time and about to write my thesis.” “From January 2014, I was in Indonesia and Thailand almost every second month—writing and diving—until I

left Denmark on a one-way ticket in September 2014. I sold my apartment, did my final exam on a Tuesday and left Saturday.” After leaving her home country, Kira moved to Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, as it was where Serge was working as a diving instructor at the time. It did not take long for the duo to decide to move back where their story first began, Bali. They were attracted by the small-town atmosphere of the fishing village of Amed, and its potential as a diving and tourist destination. “One of the reasons we decided to open a dive center here is because Amed offers a lot of shore diving with an easy access to a coastline full of amazing dive sites. This meant that we didn’t have to buy a boat, a very big expense that would have been tough on our budget,” Kira says. “We have seen some big changes since getting here five years ago. The place is growing by the day. When we first came to Amed in 2013, you couldn’t even find an ATM here.” When Kira and Serge first moved to Amed, they found that most of the dive centers in the area were little more than booking offices, where guests would book

January 2020 • ScandAsia 33


in, dive and then go home. Having experienced diving centers in Thailand where guests would hang out after diving to chat, play games or have a drink, they decided to follow suit. Amed Jepun Divers was born with this idea in mind. “We are here because we love scuba diving, and we want our guests to have an amazing experience—we realize that diving is not a cheap activity. So with us, guests can expect to not feel like just another number. We dive in small groups to give our guests the safest and most personalized experience possible,” Kira says. Opening the dive center in 2015 was a big step for Kira, since she only started diving in 2013. Luckily, her partner Serge already had years of experience in the diving industry. Throughout the journey, Kira never doubted that the duo would be able to deal with the life-changing decision. “Sometimes you just have to give things a go. Give it everything you have, and if it doesn’t work out at least you’ve tried. I like the saying: ‘don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid not to try.’ So we did try, and here we are four years later. It’s been a crazy roller-coaster ride, but totally worth it. If someone would ask me today if I would do it 34 ScandAsia • January 2020

all again, having known everything that we know now, the answer would be a definite yes. Saying this, I’m glad we’re not starting from zero tomorrow.” The road to success has not always been smooth, with each step of setting up the business providing life lessons and valuable experience. Kira says that the biggest challenge was not knowing the local regulations and how things are done in Bali. “This experience has been about learning by doing, being burned and being ready to pack up and leave, then refusing defeat, finding good people, a good lawyer and so on. Up until now we have met challenges, and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of it, but I hope and believe that we have passed the most difficult periods.” “We are not feeling sorry for ourselves, we know fairly well that we are not the first or the last to face adversity, but I’m super happy about where we are now and what we have learned along the way.” Kira and Serge have no plans to leave Amed anytime soon. They are eager to continue sharing underwater adventures and the beautiful area of Amed with divers from around the globe. And while they are not looking too far into the future, they are already contemplating a project or two. “For smaller projects, maybe a nice bar made from an old jukung [small Indonesian outrigger boat]—like to use as many recycled materials as possible when we build. Just for people to get some nice juices, coffee, and maybe some snacks and beers after diving,” Kira says. “Later on we might also build a pool. We still have a bit of space to play with, so let’s see what fun ideas we can come up with. When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” For more information about Amed Jepun Divers visit: www. amedjepundivers.com


News brief

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark visited Indonesia

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rown Pr incess Mar y of Denmark visited Indonesia in ear ly December 2019 as Patron of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and attended the launch of the 70th anniver sar y celebrations of the diplomatic relations between Denmark and Indonesia. On the first day of the visit, the Crown Princess attended the “Healthy & Organic Parenting” panel discussions before attending an event marking World AIDS Day, which is every year on 1st December. In the evening, Crown Princess Mar y attended a working dinner together with development cooperation minister Rasmus Prehn, UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem at the residence of Denmark’s Ambassador to Indonesia Rasmus Abildgaard Kristensen. The next day, the Crown Princess and UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem visited the Indonesian Midwives Association. After this, she took part in a dialogue on gender-based violence together with Indonesian health authorities and the or ganization National Commission for Violence against Women which devotes itself to the basic rights of Indonesian women, especially with regard to all forms of violence against women.

In the afternoon, she and development cooperation minister Rasmus Prehn and UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem visited the Peacumber Coffee, where an example of a mobile health clinic has been set up. The mobile clinics are one of the UNFPA’s measures in favor of access to contraception in Indonesia. The sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls and women are recognized, but contraception is not offered to unmarried women as well as married women without the permission of their husbands. The clinics offer free access to information, healthcare, and contraception. In the evening, Mar y attended an event launching the official celebrations of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Indonesia. In connection with the arrangement, the logo for the official celebration will be presented, and Her Royal Highness,together with development cooperation minister Rasmus Prehn and UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem, will attend a DanishIndonesian ballet and be offered a Danish-Indonesian menu. On Wednesday, 4 December, the Crown Princess visited the health center Puskesmas Tegalrejo. Local centers like this are examples

of the general improvement of Indonesia’s health care coverage and also national health insurance, which was introduced in 2014. UNFPA cooperates with authorities and research institutions to examine how good pregnancy and bir thing ser vices as well as access to contraception function in practice. In this connection, Her Royal Highness takes part in a dialogue about the sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls and women during the visit. On this final day, the Crown Pr incess and development cooperation minister Rasmus Prehn participated in a luncheon at Sultan Hamengkubuwono X’s palace in the city Yogyakarta. Her last official task was in the afternoon to meet Indonesian religious leader s and engage in a dialogue about family planning, among other things. In Indonesia, religion plays a central role in the promotion of family planning programs and advice to prospective parents, and UNFPA therefore steps in through, among other things, providing exper t assistance to religious advisors and improving knowledge men have about family planning.

January 2020 • ScandAsia 35


Danish Embassy puts food waste on the menu with delicious leftovers By Mille Oersted

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n Tuesday 17 December, the Royal Danish Embassy in Bangkok organised an event featuring how to successfully utilise leftover food. The event was held at The Bangkok Screening Room in corporation with Scholars of Sustenance and The Sukhothai Bangkok hotel.The event formed a green circle with a minimum of waste and a maximum of inspiration. With a new year and a new decade approaching rapidly, now is the time to reflect upon the choices made and wishes for the future. One thing most people can agree on is that the world has been howling for climate change in 2019.

Be creative

Uffe Wolffhechel, Danish Ambassador to Thailand, welcomed the guests in the afternoon and enthusiastically revealed the program of the night. 36 ScandAsia • January 2020

First on the program was a screening of the documentar y Wasted! The stor y about food waste. Rather than displaying that the world is doomed, the movie is an examination of the progress made and the solutions available. For most people there is nothing as uninspiring as opening a half-empty fridge and it is almost impossible to make something delicious out of leftovers. But as the chefs in the documentary reveal, it is hard for anyone to be creative when being paralyzed with all the choices in the world all the time. As the message from the movie was slowly sinking in, the founder of SOS (Scholars of Sustenance) Bo Holmgreen gave an inspirational talk on the same topic. He determinedly asked the audience to remember the numbers 10, 7 and 1. If combining all the food in the world, there would be enough to feed ten billion people. Seven is how many


billion people actually live on the planet. One billion is the number of people going to sleep hungry every night.

Hotel took on the challenge

One of the biggest food waste sinners is the tourist industr y. Therefore, the Danish Embassy wanted to engage them in the project. The chef at the Sukhothai hotel, Asker Skaarup Bay, decided to join the event and create a rescued menu. Three chefs from the hotel showed up and, on location, prepared a variety of both Thai and Western dishes out of food they would never have been able to serve at their own restaurant. However, the delicious result amazed the approximately fifty guests.

food loss and waste accounts for about 4.4 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. If food loss and waste were its own country, it would be the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter after USA and China. One third of all foods are never eaten – and 90 percent of the wasted food ends up in landfills, causing environmental damage. Therefore, the embassy had also invited the company Oklin which brought along a compost machine designed to make food into healthy soil that can benefit agriculture. It was the cherr y on top of the event that the leftovers from the rescued menu were put into the machine.

The ugly truth

What came as a surprise for many of the guests that night after seeing both the documentary and the talk is that January 2020 • ScandAsia 37


Agneta’s World

Santa Lucia reception at Mandarin Oriental with Little Boy’s Choir

D

ecember month is a dar k month in Scandinavia, so no wonder that we Swedes are enthusiastic about our Santa Lucia celebration. Ever y year on December 13th, the Lucia arrives with candles on her head and with an entourage of maids, star boys, gingerbread boys/girls and small Santa Claus men, singing the traditional chorals. This year, the Swedish embassy with Ambassador Staffan Herrström and spouse Karin, together with the embassy staff, invited to a very special Lucia celebration at beautifully Christmas decorated Oriental Mandarin Hotel December the 11th.

38 ScandAsia • January 2020

Already by entering the lobby, you received a Chr istmas feeling. Around 500 guests from the Diplomatic Corps and the Swedish community and Thai representatives, enjoyed a beautiful evening. The food was delicious, Swedish Christmas ham, meatballs, canapes with herring, salmon, truffle etc. Swedish Glögg (a typical hot beverage made of wine, several spices, cognac/whisky, sugar etc.) saffron buns and much more were offered to the guests. Ambassador Staffan Herrström impressed us by giving a welcome speech in both Thai and English. Time for the happening, Lucia arrives but this time she has a unique entourage, GOSSKÖREN or ‘The little Boy’s Choir’ from Göteborg.


A bunch of very talented young men singing “a Capella”. This Santa Lucia performance made us both a bit nostalgic, but we also had some real good laughter. These guys know how to mesmerize the audience. The atmosphere was great during the evening and everybody seemed to be so satisfied and happy. The lovely hostesses from the embassy did a fine job and Chef Andreas, from the Swedish residence, watched over the food so nothing went wrong. The night after the reception at Oriental, many of us from SWEA (Swedish Women Educational Association) decided to enjoy one more evening with The little Boy’s Choir.

We booked a table at ABOUT EATERY, where the boys, for the second year, were entertaining the guests. Its manager/owner Signor Giulio Saverino welcomed us warmly and looked after us during the evening. A special menu was created by the Chef and it tasted lovely. At ABOUT EATERY you have a chance to talk with the guys between them performing. The evening was as pleasant as it could be and we are already looking forward to welcoming the Little Boy’s Choir to Bangkok next year.

January 2020 • ScandAsia 39


SWEA World Meeting:

300 Swedish ladies conquered Dubai Around 300 Swedish women gathered in Dubai for the World meeting and 40 years SWEA celebration during 14 17 November 2019. We were three of us participating from Bangkok. Most of us arrived a day earlier and many stayed a couple of days after the meeting, as two trips - one to Abu Dhabi and one to Ras Al Khaimah - were organized. By Agneta de Bekassy

40 ScandAsia • January 2020


I

t is only after having participated in a World meeting or Annual meeting, that you will truly understand what SWEA is all about. It is a magical experience to meet so many Swedish women, living all over the world; young women, middle aged women and elderly women. It’s the mixture that makes it so interesting. To hear about other women’s experiences, to get to know about for you previously unknown traditions, other women’s destinies etc. All this makes SWEA so fascinating. We all, except the SWEOR living in Dubai, checked in to Holiday Inn Dubai Festival, located not far from the airport. I admired the hotel staff for taking such good care of us and their patience with us. It can’t be easy to satisfy almost 300 women with different wishes and expectations. The first evening, some of us met at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant Joe’s, for a light dinner. A nice breeze and beautiful view welcomed us. We were quite tired from our various travels, so we made an early evening to be sure of getting ready in time and fit for the first day in Dubai. Thursday morning several activities were planned. Some SWEOR went golf playing at the Emirates Golf Club, some made a trip to Abu Dhabi with a visit to the Grand Mosque and Louvren. Abu Dhabi is about 1 1/2 hours drive from Dubai. Some went to visit Jumeirah Mosque and the Etihad museum and some to explore the New Dubai or the Old Dubai. If you were longing to spend some money, the tour to the Gold & Diamond Park and Souk Madinat was waiting. In the evening, a Welcome cocktail and dinner awaited us at the Crowne Plaza, Festival City located close by. A great evening with good food and wine and last, but not least, much chatting. When I arrived at the hotel the first day, a woman looked at me at the entrance and said “Are you not Agneta?” I said, “Yes, I am..” I must admit I couldn’t place this woman even if there was something familiar

about her. Believe it or not, we had been class mates in Gothenburg and had graduated together. This is, for sure, exciting. After almost 40 years, not having seen each other, we meet again in Dubai.....this is also what SWEA is about. On Friday, my two companions from Bangkok and myself took part in the World meeting. During this meeting you have the chance to become updated about SWEA and what’s going on and future plans. There was to begin with, a common information about SWEA, to be followed by a presentation by Jessica Bjurström, who informed us about the EXPO 2020 that will take place in Dubai. Sweden will have a pavilion built of trees from our forests. We could listen to a Swedish, young woman, Maria Sundin Al Mansoori, married to a man from Dubai and her life in Dubai, the differences about the two so different cultures, her daily life with kids etc. A very fun and interesting presentation. After Coffee break sponsored by Electrolux, we learned about leadership and change of working habits from Roma Bratt, representing SWEA Austria. Next on the agenda was a presentation of Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center by Professor Dag Blanc, Uppsala University. This man we also got to know during the Summer dinner in Stockholm. The Research Center is taking care of old SWEA documentations and people can use it for their theses. After lunch, we were informed about the work SWEA Communication Committee does by Karin Högman from SWEA’s Communication committee. We also had Helena McCombie from SWEA Professional San Francisco, telling us about what SWEA Professional is all about. Most chapters today have started SWEA Professional. It’s a good way for working women to meet.The meetings are mostly during evenings and are focusing on business.

January 2020 • ScandAsia 41


The last point of the agenda was a presentation by Christina Moliteus, former SWEA International President. She talked about SWEA through 40 years and announced the location for the next World meeting 2021 which will take place in Fort Lauderdale, US. In the evening, many went for a dinner in the desert with camel ride and henna tattoos. Our President Anna Fr ummerin from SWEA Bangkok and Susie Ogeborg participated. I decided to take a taxi and see the enormous Dubai Mall, a shopping mall with 1500 shops, restaurants, ice skating rink, cinemas etc. From here you also have a great view of Burj Khalifa, which is being up lighted during evenings. Believe it or not, it takes you only 59 seconds with the elevator to the 125th floor. I didn’t go because I wanted to shop, no, I was interested in the Fontaine, which I wanted to compare it with our Fontaine at Iconsiam. It was beautiful, water in all kind of formations and with suitable music. Saturday morning I went for a Yacht tour with bubbles. This was, in my opinion, the best excursion, not only due to the bubbles and strawberries... We got to see the famous hotel Atlantis located on the Palm, we had a swim in the turquoise water and afterwards a lovely lunch was served on board, great day. In the evening we all got dressed to impress, GOLD & WHITE was the theme for the Gala dinner at the Emirate Golf Club. This evening, I think will stay in our mind for a long time.We were greeted with bubbles and live music when we entered the club. Plenty of lovely decorated tables in the garden. Welcoming by the SWEA Dubai. Delicious food, a salmon cooked to perfection and that for 300 persons, amazing. A professional singer, member of SWEA Dubai, entertained and we were all in a high mood listening to ABBA hits and much more. What a night... 42 ScandAsia • January 2020

We were Dancing Queens until it was time to say good night. Well organized with golf cars taking us to the waiting buses. It was very thoughtful of SWEA Dubai to organize the buses back to the hotel at different times, not everyone is a night owl. Some of us were longing for a beer and a little snack back at the hotel. Of course the restaurants were closed, but we found two men from the room service and they happily served us beer and snacks outside. Well, the pleasure didn’t last too long, the night manager arrived, saw and heard us and we got to know, we were absolutely not allowed drinking alcohol where we sat. After some friendly smiles from us, he allowed us to move in to the empty dining area and we could finish our night cap. Not many hours of sleep that night. Sunday morning, last day for us not going for the “after tours”. I went to explore the Gold & Diamond Park and Souk Madinat. Dubai can compete with Bangkok when it comes to Jewelry stores. I couldn’t resist buying a small camel to put on my bracelet. A visit to the souk and another delicious lunch. Time to say goodbye...... I’m pretty sure none of us wanted to leave. This meeting in the Arabic world was fantastic from the beginning to the end. Three very happy Bangkok SWEOR boarded the Emirates with many good memories and a promise to share our experiences with you back home. A huge THANK YOU to SWEA Dubai. If you are Swedish and not yet a SWEA, become one, because you are worth it! SWEA rocks, believe us. Cheers!


ScandAsia March 2020:

Nordic circular economy initiatives in Asia

S

candAsia will in March 2020 focus on Nordic circular economy initiatives and technology in Asia. Please contact the editorial or marketing team, if you or your project would like to be featured in this issue. ScandAsia’s concept makes the website and magazine a useful launch pad for businesses and all other stakeholders active in the Nordics-ASEAN sphere of interest. The March theme will offer this launch pad as a tool for information, story-telling and branding for

companies involved with circular economy solutions. The March 2020 initiative is aimed for, in par ticular Nordic businesses wanting to explain and demonstrate how they are actively involved in facilitating and driving the circular economy. In addition, responsible businesses can share how they conduct or are adapting to such a business models. Nordic countries and companies are already actively exporting business solutions and know-how based on the circular economy platform, via various educational and

outreaching activities as well as partnership-building within the Asean countries, where there are vast environmental and other CE- challenges, and with huge needs and opportunities for assistance and new business generation. Nordic stakeholders can inspire a wave of technological and business model innovation in Asean, which is in need of new technologies, processes and services – as well as new business models. While the Nordic countries and their highly regarded expor t companies have a long tradition of developing tried-and-tested solutions within recycling and other cutting edge technologies they also have the experience from the journey as former polluters to becoming the role models they are today. Therefore they possess in-depth know-how and have many related products and solutions. However, when it comes to circular economy they too are just at the beginning of a journey that is now becoming a priority for the countries also here in Southeast Asia. Email Project Manager Joakim Persson (joakim.scandmedia@gmail. com) if you find this theme interesting and would like to contribute. January 2020 • ScandAsia 43


Profile for Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd.

ScandAsia January 2020  

ScandAsia is a magazine dedicated to serve all the Scandinavian people from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland living in China, Hong Kong,...

ScandAsia January 2020  

ScandAsia is a magazine dedicated to serve all the Scandinavian people from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland living in China, Hong Kong,...

Profile for scandasia

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