Peepzee: Raising Hearts, Hope, and Communities

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Peepzee: Raising Hearts, Hope, and Communities

< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Peepzee transforms the cultural exchange model into online engagement, social enterprise, and rural community development.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Rural poverty is a global concern. But so too is the loss of traditional and folk culture, folk craft and land craft, and the cultural heritage. EU development, for example, has repeatedly failed to develop economic benefits that extend to the local economies of rural Romania. Likewise, efforts to preserve traditional and folk culture, craft, and heritage are misapplied to failed efforts to brand and market cultural tourism. Presently, rural poverty accelerates, increases, and worsens as communities and families are torn apart by the flight of those who are the most capable, competent, and/or intelligent. Children are left behind. Likewise, traditional folk and land craft and culture are not being passed on to younger generations – it bears no relevance to their ambitions to raise the standard of their quality of life and to dream bigger. This is a two-sided problem that goes beyond rural Romania.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

For many rural poor people in Romania, emigration has been a terrible solution. The young, strong, and beautiful emigrate to serve as migrant, seasonal, and sex workers within unfair and exploitative contexts outside of Romania. Those left behind depend almost completely on the remittances from family members who have emigrated. We believe that a creative investment must be made in developing a sustainable cultural and economic relationship between traditional, rural communities and the world. The two-sided problem can be simultaneously addressed by our project which will (1) nurture voices that can speak for their traditional, rural communities, (2) connect them with online influencers, and (3) amplify the reach of their voices and culture We will mentor individuals who yearn to share their culture and crafts with the world, connect them with translators who will translate their texts to English, connect them to online influencers who will curate these voices as a community service, and amplify the reach of these teams so that their voices will be heard by the global online community. We will leverage existing technologies, networks, services, and relationships to build an organization that can fuel, perpetuate, and replicate this creative, dignity-centric solution.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Through information technology, we will innovate the cultural exchange model by empowering poor, rural communities to engage the world with amazing stories, traditions, and craft. We begin by sharing and promoting the voices of the poor to the global online community via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and iTunes. These ambassadors will share their stories, traditions, and crafts through words, podcasts, goods, and services. They will collect donations, advertising revenue, and share in the profits from the sale of good and services from their local community. Their success will encourage them to continue, expand, and extend their engagement with the world and withing their community. It will also encourage further collaboration within their community as their success becomes visible within their community. It will give hope and provide opportunities beyond their imagination. But not beyond their competence and capability. Awareness of their communities and cultural heritage will increase in the global online community. Tourism will gradually increase and support their local economies – because the tour buses that now pass by these poor, rural communities on their way to nearby tourist destinations… will finally have a reason to stop and experience a deeper cultural exchange.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Etsy and Folksy, for example, provide a global marketplace for traditional, folk arts and crafts. We will use these online business platforms to engage customers that have a strong interest in such goods and services. However, the common complaint about Etsy and Folksy by their own users is that it lacks the social features for people to engage with people and build stronger connections and presence. Through our ambassador's engagement via social media, customers can also become friends, fans, evangelists, and social business partners.
About You
To be decided
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

To be decided

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Idea (you're poised to launch)

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for less than a year

Social Impact
FOUNDING STORY: We want to hear about your “Aha!” moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution’s potential to change the world.

Seven years ago, a friend introduced me to the Bucovina region in Romania. It’s a mostly rural region in the North of Romania dotted with rural villages, rich in natural resources, and steeped in traditional culture. Five or more UNESCO cultural heritage sites are located in Bucovina.

Fertile agricultural lands are mostly unused. Traditional folk arts, crafts, and cuisine are all but lost. Pride has been replaced by despair.

I quickly understood that key to economic development and cultural preservation in Bucovina was establishing a means for these poor rural communities to engage the world. Their voices, stories, and crafts are compelling. Social media, social business, and social entrepreneurship can empower these communities and elsewhere.

The hardship of Communism forced the people to rely on traditional folk customs and knowledge to survive, but it also created dependencies on the state. With the fall of Communism came the end of state sponsored agriculture and labor opportunities. The only opportunities were to be sought outside of Romania – heart-breaking, family-dividing opportunities in exploitative contexts.

Specify both the depth and scale of your solution’s social impact to date

I do not expect immediate impact. It will take time to plant the seeds of hope, restore pride in traditional and folk culture and craft, and mentor young and other community leaders in story-telling, networking, business development, and building a collaborative solidarity within the communities. Small successes must grow into community-wide successes.

My intention is to identify candidates from 12 poor, rural communities in Bucovina and allow the best ambassadors to reveal themselves and stand out through a blogging competition in which they share authentic stories about themselves, their communities, their highest hopes and their fears, their culture, and their local crafts.

Ambassadors will be mentored to succeed (as described above) and to support us in the formation of other ambassadors. Our economic objective will be for ambassadors to develop sustainable businesses– businesses that depend upon the natural resources, folk culture and craft, and people within their communities.

What is your projected impact within the next 1-5 years? Is your idea replicable? If so, how?

Impact begins when an ambassador has developed a sustainable business that successfully markets and sells folk art and crafts to support themselves and the folk artists and craftsmen that they promote. For example, a minimum profit of 5,000 Euro per year will support an ambassador and three artists/craftsmen.

Four self-sustained families will have impact on the local economy: economically, socially, and psychologically. The successes of the ambassador and local artists/craftsmen will encourage others to join them in the social enterprise, expand the goods and services offered, and further engage with the world.

Initial impact will be felt within two years.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and mark growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Six-month milestone: 12 amabassador-bloggers with a total online social reach of 1,000,000.

Six-Month Tasks
Task 1

Register organization. Launch and manage local campaigns and competitions to identify suitable candidates to serve as ambassador

Task 2

Set up platform, process, and translation for blogging, engagement, and social business for ambassadors.

Task 3

Set up an “adoption” program so that social media influencers and others can support the voices of poor, rural communities.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Self-sufficiency of ambassadors through profits realized through their social business activity.

12-Month Tasks
Task 1

Measure and analyze performance of engagement, sales, and products/services of ambassadors. Mentor ambassadors.

Task 2

Create a centralized online marketplace and community platform to expand the presence and awareness of our activities.

Task 3

Develop and execute a brand, public relations, and marketing strategy for local and global notice.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

Fewer than 100

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

Explain how your company, program, service or product is structured


What barriers have hindered the success of your project to date? How do you plan to overcome these and other challenges as you grow your solution?

I’ve been waiting for the right kind of web services to become available through the social web. Building those services from the ground up would be costly and time-consuming. Today, those services are available, I have evaluated them, and I have selected a winning mix of web services and online apps that will ensure success.

Triberr, for example, allows bloggers to form tribes (micro-communities) that share each other’s voice by posting blog post titles and links through the Twitter accounts of the tribe members. Among other things, bloggers can have an online social reach many times their own following.

How do you see the information-technology and media sectors shifting over the next decade? How will your solution adapt to and/or drive that changing environment?

As a former national director serving IAB Europe, as a thought leader in the online advertising and marketing industry in Romania, and as an entrepreneur working in web, design, community, and media development for 16 years, I am intimately aware of the challenges, opportunities, and change that happen online. Successful online strategies must be evaluated, adapted, and tweaked on a six month schedule.

Failure is not always an option. If your solution fails to gain traction in the next two years, what other applications of the idea could you explore?

The rules of engagement can change quickly online. Trends rise and fall at the drop of a hat. If blogging and social business become less relevant in the next two years, this project could easily lend itself to development of an alternative engagement model such as a social game.

The market of Facebook games is current several hundred million Facebook users. Of course, more significant investment would be required to evolve the present project into a compelling game, but I have developed an outline for such as a contingency plan. I will continue to develop the concept, design, and architecture for this alternative engagement model during the course of this project.

Expand on your selections, explaining how you will sustain funding

Once we have created a legal NGO entity to operate in Romania, we will aggressively pursue grants from EU rural development funds, Romanian government’s ministries, Foundations, Multinationals operating in Romania, and local businesses. We will submit grant requests to these organizations. As funding becomes available, we will also host fundraising events and implement online fundraising campaigns.

I have been involved as a member and fundraiser for NGOs for over 25 years (National Symphony Orchestra, youth leadership, etc.) and I understand the importance of fundraising to the project’s success as much as the meeting project milestones.

Tell us about your partnerships

Interest in this project has been expressed by NGOs, Government Offices, and other organizations: IAB Romania, Roman Catholic Church of Romania, Romanian National Mining Office, Association of Romanian Folk Artists and Craftsmen, Yahoo Advertising Romania, Northfork Center for Servant Leadership, etc.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section?

Executive Director, Chairman of the NGO
Technology Director, NGO Boardmember
Community Director, NGO Boardmember
Education Director, NGO Boardmember
Executive Assistant
Regional Manager
Folk Life Expert
Paid Interns

Changemakers is a collaborative and supportive space. Please specify any community resources you would need to grow and sustain your initiative. Select all that apply

Investment, Human resources or talent, Marketing or media, Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Pro-bono help (legal, financial, etc.), Innovation or ideas, Mentorship.

Specify any resources you might offer to support other initiatives. Select all that apply

Human resources or talent, Marketing or media, Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Pro-bono help (legal, financial, etc.), Innovation or ideas, Mentorship.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren’t specified within the list

Initial investment, loans, gifts (cars, office space, laptops, software, and office equipment), and introductions/connections will be critical to achieving the first 12 months of project milestones on time and within budget.

Define your company, program, service or product in 1-2 short sentences

Peepzee will empower poor, rural communities to connect and engage the world with amazing stories, traditions, and craft.