The King presents the New Entrepreneur of the Year awards

The King with Susanne Najafi, who received this year's Pioneer award.

The King with Susanne Najafi, who received this year's Pioneer award. Photo: Mattias Hellström/SPA

On Monday 4 November, The King presented the New Entrepreneur of the Year awards during a ceremony in the Bernadotte Library at the Royal Palace.

The awards are presented each year to entrepreneurs from foreign backgrounds who have achieved success with their businesses. This year's ceremony began with The King welcoming all the attendees. In his speech, The King said:

"Allow me to mention the nomination committees' work to include more female candidates for the various prizes. There are so many energetic, successful female business leaders in our country, many of whom are from immigrant background. It is important that they are seen in contexts such as this."

The King welcomes the attendees to the Royal Palace.

The King welcomes the attendees to the Royal Palace. Photo: Mattias Hellström/SPA

The King presented the following categories of the New Entrepreneur of the Year award:

Start-Up of the Year, Pioneer of the Year, Young Pioneer of the Year and an honorary prize.

Ahmed Ablah from Halmstad Stenhuggeri AB was awarded the Start-Up of the Year award, receiving a plaque from The King and a cheque from SEB.

Ahmed Ablah from Halmstad Stenhuggeri AB was awarded the Start-Up of the Year award, receiving a plaque from The King and a cheque from SEB. Photo: Mattias Hellström/SPA

Start-Up of the Year: Ahmed Ablah

Ahmed comes from a family that has worked as stonemasons for generations. In Syria, he ran a stone-cutting workshop with 15 employees for 12 years. His passions are stonemasonry and art. This has led him to create unique stone sculptures.

Few people in Sweden share his knowledge in this area. Before starting Halmstad Stenhuggeri, he ran a car wash. He sold the car wash and took a job at a stone-cutting workshop in Halmstad. When the workshop was declared bankrupt, he took over the business and has now developed an acclaimed, efficient stone-cutting workshop that receives commissions from all around Sweden.

The jury said: "Working with real driving passion in a number of different professional roles, Ahmed has found his way back to his original work as a stonemason and has developed a unique company that combines tradition, artistry, craftsmanship and efficiency."

Permanent Secretary of the Nomination Committee Rafael Bermejo presents the nomination process for the New Entrepreneur of the Year 2019.

Permanent Secretary of the Nomination Committee Rafael Bermejo presents the nomination process for the New Entrepreneur of the Year 2019. Photo: Mattias Hellström/SPA

Pioneer Award: Susanne Najafi

Susanne has founded seven companies, three of which are within the tech sector. The largest of these is Eleven (Unity Beauty Group) – one of the Nordic region's largest e-retailers within beauty products. She has been on an incredible journey from Rinkeby in Stockholm to the financial establishment.

She now shares her experiences with entrepreneurs in the early stages of setting up in business, and helps them to expand. BackingMinds' vision is to change the investment landscape in Sweden. Its aim is that all entrepreneurs should have the same opportunity to grow their companies, regardless of who they know, their background or where they live.

The jury said: "Susanne Najafi's inspiring personal journey and her successful career in entrepreneurship have led to the creation of BackingMinds, a risk capital company with a clear niche of its own and international ambitions, to which sustainability is integral and which already includes a several promising young companies in its portfolio."

Find out more about BackingMinds hereexternal link, opens in new window.

The King presents the Young Pioneer of the Year plaque to Noel Abdayem from The Humble Co.

The King presents the Young Pioneer of the Year plaque to Noel Abdayem from The Humble Co. Photo: Mattias Hellström/SPA

The Humble Co. was founded by Noel Abdayem, a dentist who became an entrepreneur after experiencing the negative environmental consequences of plastic waste while volunteering in Jamaica.

The Humble Co. takes social responsibility extremely seriously, donating three percent of its turnover to the independent non-profit organisation Humble Smile Foundation. This has helped more than 100,000 children around the world to receive dental care and vulnerable societies to receive education on oral health. The company's flagship product, the Humble Brush, has replaced more than 15 million plastic toothbrushes and is now available in more than 25 countries.

The jury said: "With his visionary and sustainable entrepreneurship, Noel Abdayem has created an internationally rapidly growing and profitable company within oral health – an industry that features tough competition from the large consumer companies. The Humble Co. contributes both its products and its social commitment towards creating healthier, sustainable societies around the world."

Find out more about The Humble Co. hereexternal link, opens in new window.

Find out more about The Humble Smile Foundation hereexternal link, opens in new window.

The King presents the honorary prize to Sam Manaberi from Trine.

The King presents the honorary prize to Sam Manaberi from Trine. Mattias Hellström/SPA

Honorary prize winner: Sam Manaberi

Through his business Trine, Sam Manaberi has helped connect 2.3 million people to electricity through solar energy initiatives in developing countries.

The honorary prize is awarded in exceptional cases to an individual who has made unique social and sustainable efforts. These efforts should have a clear link to entrepreneurship with a foreign background and the individual should be based in Sweden when carrying out these efforts.

Find out more about Trine hereexternal link, opens in new window.

About the New Entrepreneur of the Year awards

The New Entrepreneur of the Year awards were established in 1999. The aim is to provide role models and to highlight good examples.

The International Entrepreneur Association in Sweden (IFS) selects the winners each year.

The King is patron of the New Entrepreneur of the Year awards.