A vibrant shopping venue is created by an exciting and unpredictable mix that appeals to the local audiences and where the concepts are constantly innovating and changing. During the pandemic, the local venues have become increasingly more important when more people are choosing to shop locally. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, Bridge has been established in Kista Galleria, Stockholm. Bridge is a different showroom where small businesses from the local area are given opportunities to meet new customers and grow.
Behind Bridge is the non-profit organization Bling, which is run by three young entrepreneurs: Deqa Abukar, Amal Said and Adnan Yousuf. Since the start in 2014, Bling has supported the start-up of around a hundred companies that today have a combined turnover of SEK 200 million. Through Bridge, small business owners gain access to a large shopping venue such as Kista Galleria and become inspiring role models for people who are considering starting their own business.
Both Bridge and Bling have received a great deal of attention for promoting more equal business opportunities that transcend gender and ethnic origin. Deqa Abukar herself comes from an entrepreneurial family and started working in her mother’s shop from an early age. Deqa has personal experience of the role that entrepreneurship can play in integration, change, and growth.
Citylife met Deqa in the store in Kista Galleria, one of Sweden’s largest and most visited community shopping centres, with 180 stores, restaurants, groceries, services and experiences and 18.8 million visitors annually.
How has the corona pandemic affected employment in Järva?
The corona pandemic has led to increased unemployment – not least in Järva – where many work in the service professions. At the same time, we have noticed that a strong innovation force has emerged. This can be seen in the fact that we have more applications for Bling during the corona pandemic than ever before.
What’s the idea behind Bridge?
With Bridge as a test platform, small businesses get a place in the shopping centre and meet consumers with inspiring products and activations. Every four months, the range is changed, and new businesses can take their place. The hope is that the companies will be able to develop into pop-ups in the shopping centre and then take the step towards becoming permanent tenants.
Is there room for small retailers in large marketplaces such as Kista Galleria?
The local shopping centres have become stronger during the pandemic, and the investment is just in time. I am convinced that local retailers may well flourish side by side with large retail chains in a shopping centre. It requires small businesses to dare to invest. That’s why Bridge is so important. People in Järva need role models so they can be encouraged to take the next step.
Watch a video about Bridge:
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In the main image from the left: Deqa Abukar (Bridge), Niko Paleovrachas (Citycon), Adnan JousufAmal Said (Bridge).