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 Pride has been replaced by despair.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.
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Self-sufficiency of ambassadors through profits realized through their social business activity.