A Romanian cooperative for traditional craftspeople of Roma ethnicity is among the semi-finalists at the European Social Innovation Competition. Out over 600 entries, Romano ButiQ, part of the Romano Cher cooperatives, was chosen as one of 30 semi-finalists.
The initiative draws on traditional Roma skills and crafts to help communities support themselves and market their products. The Romano ButiQ cooperative connects over 100 craftspeople with an online market Mesteshukar ButiQ (MBQ). A large range of items are available, from jewelry and clothing to kitchenware, wicker baskets and other more utilitarian products. Various materials are used, including brass, silver, wrought iron, wickerwork and aluminium, but whatever their purpose, the products share an original and attractive aesthetic.
“Our project has already created 30 initiative groups, and we helped 10 of them to become independent legal entities, working towards full capacity. Thus, 85 Roma have become social entrepreneurs, founders, owners of their own business and a positive example in their near-circle society,” according to the project description, which is listed as semi-finalist number 21.
The semi-finalists are currently in Amsterdam for a three-day event and have also received mentoring via the European Commission (EC) scheme. In May this year, the three best proposals will each win a EUR 20,000 prize. The competition invites all Europeans to “come up with new solutions to create new opportunities for work, and for better work.” With around 25 million people unemployed in the EU, the EC warns that “the corrosive effects of high unemployment will cast a shadow over the economy and our society for years to come.”
The EC’s competition aims to find the best social innovation solutions to help people move towards work or into new types of work. It is held in memory of the late Diogo Vasconcelos, who promoted the use of information technology to spur innovation and democratize opportunity and who died in 2011.
Find out more and support the social innovation projects here.
Liam Lever, firstname.lastname@example.org