Social Entrepreneurship offers work opportunities to categories of people who would not be able to be hired in ordinary companies – they either come from poor backgrounds or they are over 50; they have certain disabilities or are simply single mothers for instance. While an NGO is supported by donations or projects, a social enterprise manages to support itself, mostly by selling the products made – sometimes in traditional ways.
Social Entrepreneurship is slowly but surely developing in Romania. In what follows, we are going to introduce several small ventures which are passionate about reviving traditional crafts and dedicated to supporting vulnerable communities.
The Paper Mill Association (“Asociaţia Moara de Hârtie”), Comana, Giurgiu County https://www.moaradehartie.ro/
The Paper Mill is a museum-workshop concept which revives and promotes traditional craftsmanship. It deals with hand-made paper, book binding workshops and handprinting. The money made from the museum admission tickets and stationary products is used to pay the salaries of the 11 employees and part of it is reinvested. The local people learned the trade again, most of them from scratch. The Paper Mill – Craftsmanship Village Ensemble hosts 10 creative workshops involving weaving looms, reed processing, blacksmith’s shop, pottery, woodwork, stone grinding mill and bakery. Both the museum and the workshops have been visited by over 12000 people since its foundation in 2011 and 2014 respectively.
MBQ [Meşteshukar ButiQ], based in Bucharest https://mbq.ro/
MBQ focuses on revaluing traditional Roma craftsmanship and ancient skills, in order to change attitudes towards the Roma citizens for the better. At the same time, the most treasured value is to offer working opportunities to Roma families who struggle in dire poverty. MBQ employs traditional craftsmen whose work is distributed both in the Bucharest boutique (unique handmade items) and in supermarkets (series products designed by well-known designers). The founders are proud to present both the products and the stories of their artisans.
Made in Roşia Montană, Roşia Montană, Alba County https://www.madeinrosiamontana.com/
Roşia Montană, Alba County, is known both for its archaeological sites (there are well conserved Roman vestiges) and for its wealth of gold whose exploitation may forever destroy the village, the ancient sites and the ecological balance of the area. Made in Rosia Montana was founded in order to create awareness about the danger posed by the gold mining project and support the local people who have few employment opportunities locally. The idea stemmed from a gift woolen pair of socks which was appreciated by both the receiver (founder of the company) and by his Facebook friends, who placed orders soon after they found out about the product. As a result, 20 local women knitted and delivered 300 hundred pairs of socks within 3 months. Today, the company founded in 2014 employs 35 women who knit with love in the heart of Transylvania, Romania.