The city of Malmo in the south of Sweden is launching a crowdfunding campaign to help it become the world’s most international city.
Malmo already boasts a hugely diverse population, with people from 169 of the 193 UN-recognised nations currently resident there. The aim of the Little Big Malmo project is to recruit individuals or families from each of the 24 outstanding nations to join the city’s population, which would make it the world’s most international city, ahead of the likes of New York and London. The hope is to have achieved the goal by the time of the 2016 Malmo Festival — in exactly a year’s time — when the whole city will celebrate with a party.
Little Big Malmo is not being run by the city’s tourist board, but as a non-profit foundation by Finnur Sverrisson, an Icelander who has lived in Malmo for many years, and Lars Lyberg, a Swede. “The project as it is right now started exactly a year ago, but the idea was born five years ago,” Sverrisson tells WIRED.co.uk. Pretty much every other day out on a canal boat, everyone told me about the multinational, and I was like, alright why isn’t every country living in Malmo, we’re so close?”
The project will be owned completely by the citizens of Malmo, with individuals and local businesses able to buy shares in the project. One share will be 16 krona — a little over £1 — which means Malmo’s residents will be able to buy into the idea without even needing to hand over a bill. “This means you will own it as much as anyone else,” says Lyberg. The pair will be trying to raise around 10 million krona in total.
The money raised will be used to fund a “soft landing” for Malmo’s new residents. They will be given a plane ticket (and a return ticket in case they don’t like it — Swedes think of everything), work sponsorship, a place to live, phone contracts, a bicycle and tickets to cultural events so they can embrace the Malmo way of life.
Even with all the shares sold, the pair will need help from others. They have formed partnerships with local housing and transport agencies, but they will be seeking more money too. So how do they plan to get it? “I do believe in the power of the internet,” says Lyberg. “I believe in the power of good.”
“I think reaching out and saying we can’t accomplish this on our own is a pretty good way of getting things done. So if they sympathise with our goals and think, that seems reasonable — this little place, this little dot on the map should be the most international place on the planet, I’ll support that.”
The countries Malmo is seeking residents from are: Antigua, Grenada, Barbuda, Kiribati, Andorra, Comoros, Belize, Liechtenstein, Bhutan, Maldiverna, Brunei, Marshall, islands, Micronesia, Oman, Nauru, Palau, Saint Kitts Nevis, Salomon islands, São Tomé Príncipe, South Sudan, Tonga, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and East Timor.
There won’t be an application process, other than meeting terms set out by the immigration authorities in Sweden. Instead, it will be done on a first come, first served basis. If you are from one of the above countries and have ever fantasised about living the good life in Sweden then best get your application in now. Neither Sverrisson nor Lyberg are from Malmo, but they both insist enthusiastically that it is incredibly welcoming to newcomers. “There’s more outsiders than insiders here,” says Lyberg.
It sounds like those coming into the city will be getting a pretty good deal. But what is in it for Malmo as a city? “Our standing point of view is that a multicultural background just means more creativity and that means we can create more jobs, we can create a better social environment, we can create more culture,” says Sverrisson. Of course, being able to claim that it is the most international city in the world will also be a huge boost to its reputation. Still, Sverrisson also sees it as being a lot fun for all involved. “If another city wants to challenge us, then that’s awesome.”