Sweden Flag

Ilija Batljan

EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Class of 2022, Sweden

Ilija Batljan, Founder and CEO of Samhällsbyggnadsbolaget (SBB)

From refugee to CEO, Ilija Batljan refocuses the Nordic real estate market on social infrastructure.

A desire to contribute to society has been the driving force behind Ilija Batljan’s incredible journey in real estate. After fleeing war in Bosnia and arriving in Sweden as a refugee, he worked for the Swedish government before being elected mayor of Nynäshamn. Frustrated by the need for improved social infrastructure, he founded Samhällsbyggnadsbolaget (SBB) in 2016 to build schools, nursing homes and affordable housing.

By using mathematical modeling to provide unique insights into demographic trends, Ilija is able to respond quickly to community needs, investing or building in areas where gaps are predicted. This innovative approach has put SBB at the forefront of addressing Sweden’s housing shortage by providing affordable, regulated rental properties in areas of need. It currently has 73,000 apartments in development.

Ilija is committed to making sustainable urban development possible. He ensures SBB accommodation is built near local services, health care facilities, schools and public transportation links to reduce the need for residents to use private vehicles. As part of the company’s goal to become climate positive by 2030, Ilija has a target of switching all SBB operations to run on 100% renewable energy. He also aims to adopt the latest technologies to provide energy-efficient housing in communities. 

Ilija has since grown SBB to become the Nordic region's leading real estate company in social infrastructure. It employs 400 people and has achieved a Stockholm Stock Exchange large-cap listing.

Back to the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Class of 2022