Romano ButiQ - Social Entrepreneurship for the Roma people

Romano ButiQ - Social Entrepreneurship for the Roma people

Bucuresti, RomaniaBucuresti, Romania
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

The Romano ButiQ" Association was created on April 18, 2011 in order to promote non-discrimination by developing cultural and educational activities. The association was founded in the need to present in a realistic way the Roma minority and to create the space for people to discover experimentally the value they bring to society, beyond the negative stereotype or the victim paradigm.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

According to recent studies,75% of the Roma minority in Romania(estimated total of 1,8 mil. people)live on incomes below the poverty line,and out of those employable,only 35% are working.The limited opportunities in the labour market are part of a vicious circle involving: -poor health(50% of the Roma households have access to health facilities) -illiteracy and poor education(5-6 times more drop-outs than in non-Roma case,30% of Roma children not affording to travel to school or lacking clothes,shoes and school materials) - discrimination based on stereotypes. These problems persist at an European level as well and the solution should concentrate on creating a frame to support opportunities for autonomous income generation by activating the existing Roma traditional working skills.

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

We approached the identified needs in a holistic way and developed a solution which tackles the unemployment and poverty of the Roma people by stressing on the existence and use of their traditional skills and abilities.The solution is to: -Create 30 community cooperatives in various regions in Romania -Use the cooperatives as the legal and social frame in which 1000 Roma craftsmen produce and sell traditional or modern goods -Create an online shopping portal for these goods -Create a mobile space where to showcase and promote the Roma culture and traditional handcraft techniques -Provide training activities,legal and financial counseling and assistance to the craftsmen involved in the community cooperatives -Sustain a PR campaign raising awareness on the traditional skills of the Roma handicraftsmen and the products developed by them -Lay out the basis for the creation of “The Union of Roma Craftsmen”,meant to give the Roma craftsmen a far reaching,legitimate and unified voice
Impact: How does it Work

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

Within the frame of the community cooperatives,the Roma traditional craftsmen, otherwise excluded or roughly adapted to the current employment market,are empowered to overcome their present status and social position.They are directly engaged in running a business which produces and sells products handcrafted by them,upholding tradition and experience,whether these are wooden artefacts and tools,leather products,iron tools or jewelry. Our project has already created 30 initiative groups,and we helped 10 of them to become independent legal entities,working towards full capacity. Thus,150 Roma have become social entrepreneurs,founders,owners of their own business and a positive impact and example in their society. The Roma craftsmen receive through our program counseling towards a better understanding of the current market,training for development of their business and supervision to ensure the cooperatives will become autonomous and sustainable beyond our project. Also,we have created a mobile,multifunctional,interactive and modular 1000sqm space,”The Atelier”,which is used as training location or vocational counseling for the Roma craftsmen,as space for exhibits and events as well as public showcases(instant apprenticeship lessons)of craftsmanship(promoting the culture of craftsmen to the public). The Atelier provides the space and opportunity for people to familiarize with the Roma,dismantling misconceptions. Our cooperatives possess the real potential to become small centers of local economic advance and can be replicated in other communities in Romania and abroad.

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

Other NGOs in Romania confront the integration and employability issue of Roma.We are different as solutions proposed by most experts have led to re-conversion into picking up garbage and other low qualified and payed jobs ,leaving off Roma traditions and values and therefore registering a very low success rate,as they were disconnected from the communities’strengths,values and their way of life. Our project differentiates by: -integrating existing skills,traits and Roma values into the solution -creates sustainability rather than dependency -encouraging Roma to overpass their present condition -promoting a different image of Roma Competitors are mostly China and present a price challenge.We fight it through marketing and positioning our products as high end unique,trendy&sustainable

Founding Story

“Gypsies don’t want to work and no help or assistance for them is worth it” was what one journalist was saying in the bus that accommodated more mass opinion influencers like him,on the way to a press trip in Roma communities. In the village we met mister Anusca,who was knitting osier baskets and selling them in the village,trying to feed his nine children.The articles, which proved to the journalists and his readers the opposite of the initial phrase,created a chain of pre-orders from the readers but there was no way to get the orders to Anusca or the baskets to the city. We decided then that,if organized and properly promoted,the Ansuca-like Roma handcraftmen,are both a living proof against stereotypes,far better than any campaign fighting discrimination that tells but doesn’t prove.They can become role models in their community and generate enough income to break the vicious circle of poverty and discrimination for the generation of their children. So we started to act on this.
About You
Romano ButiQ
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Romano ButiQ

Organization Country

, B, Bucuresti

Country where this project is creating social impact

, B, Bucuresti

Age of Innovator


Gender of Innovator


How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities? (select all applicable)

Access to supply chains, Access to economic opportunity.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

-a nation-wide anthropological study which showed the direct connection between the handcraft tradition and the life of the community
-a market research which showed the desire on the market for handcraft products
-30 initiative groups for community cooperatives gathered
-10 community cooperatives created
-150 Roma craftsmen have become social entrepreneurs,founders and owners of their own business and a positive impact and example in their society
-trainings for 250 managers to sustain the development of the cooperatives
-e-commerce platform which promotes and sells the community cooperatives’ products
-20000 goods produced and sold through the e-commerce platform,fairs,to direct customers
-7 cities reached with the mobile interactive space “Atelier”
-a reach of more than 15000 people who have been exposed to the stories and products of the Roma craftsmen,by visiting the “Atelier”,participating at events or at instant apprenticeships lessons

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

In our objective of social and economic integration of the Roma people,in Romania and Europe,the sustainability and scalability of the community cooperatives is an important factor.They can provide the proper foundation for the Roma craftsmen (and not only) to build their future themselves,creating a direct link with the buyers of their products and giving them the possibility to promote themselves and fight against their discrimination.
We want to keep the 500 people to benefit from working in these cooperatives,which can scale and sustain their family budget while engage new people.The creation of the “The Union of Roma Craftsmen”,which is meant to give the Roma craftsmen a far reaching,legitimate and unified voice,will empower them to be much more involved in today’s society.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

In order for the community cooperatives to become sustainable and surpass the status of mere start-ups, it’s necessary to continue investing in the project.The lack of funding may be the most important barrier in the way of its success,preventing further investments in the know-how of people involved,products’ promotion and change of the social paradigm involving the Roma people.These are to be approached by attracting new financial partners in the project,as well as funding from the government/EU Funds.
Another difficulty arises from the authorities’ slow reaction and bureaucracy, which may hinder the process of creating the legal form of the community cooperatives.This obstacle is to be met by ensuring the right paperwork is provided and the delays are minimized by good preparation.

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

The existence of 30 fully functional community cooperatives

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

20field visits to resolve any final questions about the scope,creation,requirements and development plans for the cooperatives

Task 2

create or direct the local market peers to the future/existent cooperatives

Task 3

prepare and solve any legal issues which may stand in the way of creating the cooperatives

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

1000 self sustained, workforce engaged Roma handcraftsmen

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

provide training in areas needed for sustaining entrepreneurship for the people engaged in the community cooperatives

Task 2

sustain the development and growth of the worksforce by ensuring 5000 EUR minimum orders for products / month

Task 3

fight against discrimination and target 50.000 people to be reached with “Atelier”,transforming 40% in potential customers

Tell us about your partnerships

We partner with:
-local authorities in 30 communities that provide space for the cooperatives
-the Doctoral Program of Sociology of the Political Science University to track the impact we have and provide new ideas,
-the National Television channel to showcase the “How it’s made“ series and the human story of the handcraft men and women,
-boutique stores
-Metro retail chain for product distribution

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

To be able to tackle the situation of the Roma at a larger scale,a vast network is needed, which should include opportunities and access to resources regarding international media&PR(create awareness),operative funding and structural support, whether it is financial,logistic or know-how.While we can share our expertise in Roma matters and projects,we do need support to take this cause way further.