Social Enterprise and Natural Capital

If you live in Abruzzo region of Italy, you always look at the sea thinking of those living on the other side. If you go on the mountains, sometimes, when there are bright days, you can see the silhouette of the Croatian islands of Vis, Hvar, Korčula and others. The Balkans are in front of us and since centuries. In our region there are also small Orthodox communities that live here since the XV century and still speak in ancient Albanian language. The relationship between the two sides of the Adriatic sea are strong and dynamic.

Borrello’s Jam

The Training Course took place from 4th to 13th September 2023 in the inner part of Abruzzo Region, in Italy, in the rural community of Borrello nearby the Regional Nature Reserve “Del Verde Waterfalls” (highest natural waterfalls in South Europe), where mountains of the Apennines chain were our main landscape. The overall idea of the activity, as decided during the previous Study Visit, was to highlight links and connection between Social Enterprise and Natural Capital tackling a common element to all our countries and realities: the food and its related elements such as quality lifestyles and environmental standards. At the same time, main goal was to develop new methods and approaches on how to involve Young People in the sustainable development of our communities.

For this reason, core part of the Training was represented by both Practical Cooking Activities and Theme Based Activities.

During first couple of days, participants were in charge to realise Practical Cooking Activities focused on few predefined elements (Slow, Seasonal, Responsible, Traditional, Local foraged, etc.). The project so far has seen a diverse range of food being created in workshops led directly by participating countries. The dishes created have included pasta, tomato sauce, kajmak, kukuruzna ljevuśa, sticky toffee pudding, carrot chutney, fermented cabbage, sterilised beans, mixed pickle, rožata, komiska pogaca, zucchini pancakes, granatiersky pochod, zacusca with eggplant, compote, vine leaf rolls and suve paprika. In that week we’re eating really well! It’s been fantastic learning about not only cooking skills, but sharing cultural experiences. A wonderful way to really get to know each other.

Furthermore, in a couple of days, 3 theme based activities run in parallel on different kinds of exploitation from the learned cooking processes: Creation of educational modules, Realization of promotional material, Planning a social entrepreneurship development. In this way, using all of the fabulous recipes as inspiration, we were able to address three elements related to natural capital and social enterprise (such as educational, communicative and entrepreneurial) acquiring at the same time new skills, knowledge and competences.

After working on the possible exploitation of the learning process and of the practical outcomes in both local and international activities and distributing the Youthpass to each participant, we had our final evaluations.

Impact of Erasmus+ Youth on participants

For me and for my organisation BROZ, the chance to participate in the project opens new possibilities and cooperations. Sharing ideas, approaches and experiences enriches the BROZ team and inspire us to include new activities in running of our organisation. BROZ is mostly focused on practical nature restoration, however it is not possible to do so without connection to local communities. Even though work with communities is only a small part of our activities, we are happy to have the chance to get international experience and use it at our eco-farm at Veľký Lél in Slovakia.

Michaela, Slovakia

My motivations for taking part in the project were first, the topic, which interested me personally, was coherent with my academic background, and therefore could bring me interesting things for my career plan. The intercultural meetings and exchanges were a big part of what drew me to this project, and I was not disappointed. I also really like the volunteering dimension of this project, and this experience confirmed my love for volunteering experiences. And of course, the environment in which we were received (Italian mountains) was attractive and was indeed incredible. I’ve learnt more about some European cultures that I really knew nothing about before (especially Balkan countries), and now I have friends all around Europe. I’m coming away from this experience with communication, educational and entrepreneurial tools that are interesting for my own professional practice. I was able to use creative skills that I don’t usually use a lot. In addition, I’m coming home with a great example of how to tackle a complex subject through a theme that concerns us all: sustainable food, and a practice that brings us together: cooking. This is really inspiring!

Romane, Belgium

To see what we did in Borrello you can watch the following video:

The idea

All kinds of green areas (Nature Reserves, Protected Parks, site of biodiversity interest, community gardens, etc.) are of fundamental importance for the protection of Natural Capital and for human well-being through the provision of Ecosystem Services (environmental, social, economic, cultural and infrastructural).

Within this framework, it is very important to initiate and/or consolidate paths of interaction between these areas and young people in order to facilitate processes of personal development, active involvement and inclusion in the economic and social life.

Through a 3 years educational, formative and experiential path, we intend to increase skills and knowledge on how to develop social entrepreneurship in the framework of natural capital in order to stimulate the practical engagement of young people with fewer opportunities, the reflection on their own social role and participation in the process of development and socio-economic growth of communities. Social enterprises, in fact, meet the needs of individuals and communities by representing an inclusive economic activity of social utility and therefore an added value in local development through networking and direct involvement, the promotion of sustainable well-being that guarantees services, equal opportunities and the reduction of inequalities.

This commitment over the 3 years will lead, through several workshops and activities on social entrepreneurship linked to natural capital and sustainable lifestyles, to activate at least 10 ideas incubators in different local communities around Europe directly involving in the activities 160 participants from 9 European countries (Italy, Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Albania, Croatia), hundreds of young people and citizens and several local and international partners/stakeholders. The whole process intend to impact rural areas in and/or near protected areas through the development of new sustainable economic projects able to compensate for the limited existing opportunities.

The project is promoted by the Italian non-profit organisation ARCI Circolo Territoriale Chieti APS settled in Abruzzo Region, central Italy, on the Adriatic coast.

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