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Community involvment report 2013

All the protagonists of this year`s stories are people who proved that IT CAN BE DONE! And people who transformed their daring plans into impactful projects.

We invite you to discover their stories, to team up with them and to become one of the collective author to the common good, through your recommendations and encouragement!

Made in Andrei’s Country

The adventures of social entrepreneurship pioneers in Romania

Experienced entrepreneur or a beginner with great ideas? A man who carries his own social business on his shoulders or a member of an organisation with tradition? High-end products or consumer goods? Services, education, production or agriculture?

The winning projects of the social business competition "Made in Andrei’s Country", 2013 edition, a program financed by Petrom and conducted in partnership with the non-profit organisation NESsT, are social businesses that provide answers to all the questions above and prove that it is possible to improve the life of the community.

The 10 finalist projects of the 2013 edition, currently under implementation, are each benefiting from up to 32,000 Euro grants. In addition, for about one year, the 10 winners also benefit from business incubation consultancy, in key areas such as management, finance, legislation, marketing and distribution. The 20 projects out of which the 10 winning projects were selected also benefit from training and consultancy for 8 months along with financial support, within the limit of 1,500 Euro, helping them carry out research in the local communities targeted by their projects. The information collected from the research was used to develop and refine the final business plan.

Beyond numbers, a question still remains: how does a successful entrepreneur look like? Lets’ find out the answer below.

  • Simpluș Workshop

    One of the main obstacles standing in the way of social reinsertion of alcohol and/or drug consumers is the active integration on the labour market. Employers are reluctant when it comes to hiring persons with addictions, despite the fact that they are following a treatment or are going through a period of abstinence. The social business initiated by Loreta Isac from Aliat Association aims at facilitating the social and professional reinsertion for this category, by developing a workshop that teaches the participants how to manufacture three textile product categories (personalized toys, series toys and laptop cases).

    "The project is currently in full swing. Since the end of February 2014, we have succeeded to rent and set up the space dedicated to the Simpluş Workshop, to acquire the sewing machines and all the tools necessary to start the activity" , says Loreta Isac.

    The products are to be sold, and half of the earned revenues will be reinvested in the Aliat Association’s core activity, namely the social and professional reintegration of alcohol and drug addicts.

    "Three long-term unemployed persons from Măneşti, Dâmboviţa county have been hired. Eight people signed up for this test, three were employed, and we plan to work with two other in the future, when the work volume increases" , explains Loreta Isac.

    Isac Loreta

    Initiated by:

    Isac Loreta

    Title

    Project Initiator

    About:
    From 1999, the Aliat Association is fighting to give efficient treatment services for alcohol and drug addicts.

    Community:

    Mănești, Dâmbovița

    Domain:

    Fabrics factory

    Social Impact:

    Social Development
  • Safety and Comfort

    Vicenția Ana, the initiator of the "Safety and Comfort" project already had a social business she wanted to extend when she decided to submit the project in "Made in Andrei’s Country" competition. In order to do this, she teamed up with her father to participate in the competition initiated by Petrom.

    Thus, Ana E. Ion company, founded in 2008, operating in wood processing, had as main objective the recovery of the waste generated from wood chopping and processing by setting out a workshop that produces sawdust briquettes in Măneşti, Dâmboviţa county. The members of the organization are former employees who used to work in the oil field or their relatives and Roma persons, living in low-income households with many members.

    "In the past, our community had a strong oil extraction industry, so many people used to work for Petrom. After the oil field was depleted, many of them became unemployed, while the community now faces an overall state of poverty" , explains Vicenția Ana.

    The social business has a multi-fold impact in the community. The expansion of the social business with financial support from Petrom will avoid the cutting of 3,000 cubic meters of fire wood within the first year, amounting to 5,000 cubic meters in the fifth year, by replacing them with sawdust briquettes, an environmental-friendly product, free of impurities. The products, which are 50% cheaper than fire wood, will provide the 800 disadvantaged families in Măneşti with a cheaper heating alternative.

    Vicenția Ana

    Initiated by

    Vicenția Ana

    Title

    Project Initiator

    About:
    Ana owns a social business. She wanted to extend the business by participating, together with her father, in Made in Andrei's Country, the competition initiated by Petrom.

    Community:

    Mănești, Dâmbovița

    Domain:

    Wood processing

    Social Impact:

    Social Development
  • The generous shepherd

    The "Generous shepherd", the project initiated by Daniela Ghencea, consists in setting up a traditional sheepfold in Taşbuga area, Moineşti municipality, which will market both traditional dairies made from sheep and goat milk and live lambs throughout Bacău county.

    "Our business idea to establish a traditional Romanian sheepfold adapted to the new sanitary requirements, started from the necessity of a healthy nutrition" , says Daniela Ghencea, who also faced challenges during the implementation stage.

    "We have purchased 90 animals, in addition to the 200 we already had. During winter and especially spring we registered significant losses, of over 40 animals."

    Despite these difficulties, Daniela Ghencea carried on, proving that everything is possible: she concluded 29 lease contracts for a surface of 21 hectares of land and joined the association of animal growers Moineşti-Lucăceşti, which provided her with 42 hectares of grazing land.

    The objectives of this social business include the creation of six jobs within the first year, one of which for a Roma person and one for a person with disabilities, the delivery of 40 kg of dairies to the social canteen managed by the Public Service for Social Assistance in Moineşti, with 60 persons registered, and the lease of 10 hectares of grazing land owned by 20 elderly families living in Taşbuga area, thus providing them with an annual income of minimum 1300 Ron.

    Ghencea Daniela

    Initiated by

    Ghencea Daniela

    Title

    Project Initiator

    About:
    Ghencea Daniela has a lot of experience in managing a sheepfold. Currently she holds 150 sheeps and 50 goats.

    Community:

    Zemeş, Bacău

    Domain:

    Dairy products

    Social Impact:

    Social Development
  • Romanian achievements

    Alin Prunean, the initiator of the project "Romanian achievements with international success", has a vast experience in both traditional and social entrepreneurship. In 1997, he founded Agapis Foundation with the purpose to foster the economic, social and cultural development of the rural communities in Sălaj County. 15 years later, in 2011, Alin Prunean created the social business Valea Barcăului and the brand "Sănătate Dulce" (Sweet Health) consisting in Romanian products which Petrom included in the Best Romanian Achievements Collection.

    "Boletus, cinnamon, hot pepper or coffee honey are special products tasted and appreciated even by his Royal Highness, Prince Charles of Great Britain, during one of his visits in Transylvania" , says Alin Prunean.

    His social business deals with collecting bee products and dry fruits from 12 local producers, as well as processing, packaging and distributing these products using innovative recipes. In 2013, he directed 50% of the profit towards supporting the access to education of the young people from the community.

    With his winning project within the 2013 edition, the entrepreneur intends to expand the scope of his social business Valea Barcăului to the communities of Marca and Suplacu de Barcău by developing a pollen and bee venom collection and packaging centre in Marca. The social effects generated by this expansion include providing support to 10 families of beekeepers, among which at least three are Roma, living in Marca and Suplacu de Barcău communities, with an end target to ensure a minimum income of 13,894 Ron per family per year.

    Prunean Alin

    Initiated by

    Prunean Alin

    Title

    Project Initiator

    About:
    In 1997, Alin established the Agapis foundation, which has as a main activity developing the rural communities in Sălaj county, from an economic, social and cultural perspective.

    Community:

    Marca, Sălaj

    Domain:

    Apiarian farms

    Social Impact:

    Social Development
  • Habitat for Humanity

    When you ask him why the social business financed by Petrom and implemented by Habitat for Humanity targets the production and marketing of vibro-pressed concrete elements (slabs, brims, bricks, paving blocks, rainwater drains) for the areas around Tazlău and Trotuş rivers, Andrei Chirilă, executive director within Habitat for Humanity, answers in numbers.

    "One million Romanians have no heat, running water or toilet, 41.2% of the Romanians have no bathroom or shower, 55.3% of the Romanians live in overcrowded houses and 28.6% of the Romanians struggle with a severe lack of shelter, the highest rate in Europe. These are the issues Habitat for Humanity intends to solve with the projects it runs" , declared Andrei Chirilă.

    The social business in Comăneşti, Bacău County, sets to restore a sense of citizenship in the community. So far, the staff recruitment started, the lease contract for the production space was concluded, the technical documentation for gas and electricity connection was drafted, the production-related equipment was acquired and the production area was prepared.

    The business will create between four and ten jobs, will facilitate the involvement of 300 young persons in volunteering programs, will help over 180 families living in the rural area, lacking modern access roadways, to improve their standard of living and will provide technical assistance and support for the assembly of the materials.

    Chirila Andrei

    Initiated by

    Chirila Andrei

    Title

    Project Initiator

    About:
    Habitat for Humanity works with people from everywhere, of any social condition, to build houses, communities and hopes in order to diminish poor living conditions.

    Community:

    Comănești, Bacău

    Domain:

    Building materials

    Social Impact:

    Social Development
    Roxana Damaschin

    Roxana Damaschin

    Portfolio Director NESsT România

    I think it`s extraordinary that the member of a large international association is concerned about sustainability at a local level and that they have a pro-active attitude in this respect. I appreciate the fact that the social business is directly connected to the mission of the organization – access to decent housing.[...]

    Construction materials with a price-quality ratio favorable to the client are, without a doubt, also sought after by consumers outside of disadvantaged areas. This is where I see a medium-term potential to expand the retail market and grow a distributor network.

    As regards the business itself: its success depends on the implementation of the sales plan. Besides quality, the products must be known and wanted by clients. Considering market competition, I believe it is too risky to leave volunteers in charge of sales. Despite their best intentions, at the end of the day, they are not the ones responsible for the financial performance of the business. I strongly recommend the employment – with attractive financial benefits – of someone with experience in the field, who has clear sales targets and is directly subordinated to the social business manager. The expenses for this key team member may be partly covered from the start-up grant, and through a performance-based reward system (sales commission), in order to reduce the fixed costs of the business.

    I am also particularly keen on quantifying the objectives of the business, where possible. This is the only way one can assess its success, looking back. How many unemployed people do I want to give jobs to? For how long? Which authorities do I want to partner with? What are my actual benefits? How many volunteers can I actually manage?

  • Bread oven Burcioaia

    Vrancea Red Cross, the initiator of the project "Bread oven Burcioaia", through Rodica Davidean, is a subsidiary of the national organisation operating since 1915.

    "Our social business contributes to the mission of the National Red Cross Society, namely to prevent and alleviate human suffering. More precisely, part of our bakery’s products will contribute to supporting the residential social services our organization has developed" , says Rodica Davidean.

    The social business "Bread oven Burcioaia" will create three jobs in the first year and will produce and market bakery and pastry products in the northern area of Vrancea County. The objectives include the distribution of water and bread to 60-80 vulnerable persons who are under the care of the subsidiary using the income generated by the social business, as well as the donation of bakery products to 50 families in Burcioaia at least 3 times a year.

    In addition, the business will also generate an emotional impact, as six persons in the community, including the three employees, will benefit from professional training and at least three pupils from the Technical College in Adjud will have the opportunity to complete their annual practice internship.

    Davidean Rodica

    Initiated by

    Davidean Rodica

    Title

    Project Initiator

    About:
    Vrancea Red Cross it is attested from 1915 and it is a branch of the national organization. From 2000, the organization runs social programs, humanitarian activities and trainings in order to respond to disasters.

    Community:

    Burcioaia, Vrancea

    Domain:

    Panificaţie

    Social Impact:

    Social Development
    Roxana Damaschin

    Roxana Damaschin

    Portfolio Director NESsT România

    The social mission of the business is so clear and beautifully expressed! The presence of the bakery in the community will bring a change for the better, beyond the new jobs and the opportunities of vocational practice. Bread and bakery products are some of the Romanians` basic foods. Unfortunately, the reasonably priced assortments do not excel in quality – white flour, potentializers, synthetic flavors.[...]

    The idea is to sell traditional products at accessible prices is very welcomed, especially for a disadvantaged community.

    My advice for a business of this type is to exercise great care in selecting suppliers. Be watchful of raw material quality and compliance, and determined when negotiating delivery terms and payment conditions! The food industry is heavily regulated, and HAACP approvals, Sanepid controls and product inspections can be a real hassle. You need to be rigorous and perfectly professional from the very first day.

    One should not neglect the related risks – seemingly minor errors may have great negative impact, possibly even to the consumers` health. I recommend attracting a pro-bono consultant, with detailed knowledge of the breadstuffs industry and willing to spend a few hours a month to develop the business (he/she may be a manager of a big bread factory in the area – someone who does not represent a direct competition).

  • Milk and cheese from Băbana

    Viorel Smarand and Adrian Duminică, the initiators of the projects, are farmers with five years of experience in collecting and processing milk and dairies in Băbana, Argeş county and the marketing of these products in Piteşti. The idea of the social business is to create a milk collection and processing centre in Băbana and to sell organic cow milk products in Trivale market in Piteşti.

    "Because this is my home. I was born and raised here and here is where I live now. I come from a generation of peasants and I wish to carry on this tradition, which is in danger to become extinct" , says Viorel Smarand when asked about the reason for choosing Băbana for his social business.

    In the first years of activity, the project aims at increasing the standard of living for 10 families in Băbana, owning cows and willing to sell the milk surplus in order to obtain additional income, thus becoming milk suppliers for the new collection centre. The business plan takes into account the market demand, based on which the expansion of the activities will be considered, which will then lead to an increase in the number of families from Băbana turning into suppliers.

    The impact of the business also includes the creation of two jobs for the locals in Băbana, as well as the stimulation of agriculture in the area, through the increase of demand for fodder plants to feed the cattle.

    Smarand Viorel

    Initiated by

    Smarand Viorel

    Title

    Project Initiator

    About:
    Viorel Smarand and his associate, Adrian Duminică, are farmers with 5 years of experience in collecting and processing milk and dairy products in Băbana village, Argeș county. They also manage the delivery of these products in markets from Pitești.

    Community:

    Băbana, Argeș

    Domain:

    Micro farm

    Social Impact:

    Social Development
    Florin Ghindă

    Florin Ghindă

    Cofounder RomaniaPozitiva.ro

    The Program Made in Andrei`s Country contributes to improving the way of life in several Romanian communities. Moreover, the entrepreneurs registered into the program promote a new way to do business, a model that is honest with the community where it operates, a form of business with a soul, where social impact is at least as important as sales or profit.

    I appreciate the business Milk and Cheese from Băbana for the simplicity of its work model and because Viorel Smarand is a local man, very good at his job, who wants to keep the tradition alive in his family. I believe we need people who are happy with what they do and who help the communities they live in.

  • "The House Scarf" Insulators

    Lucian Stanciu-Viziteu, the initiator of the project, is not at his first business. In 2009, he founded Melovinic, a company involved in various areas such as software, retail and market research.

    His return to his grandparents’ and parents’ birth place gave him an idea of a social business, aimed at establishing an industrial wool processing centre in Independenţa, Galaţi County. The main products this social business will generate will be thermal and sound insulators made of sheep wool branded "IZO-MIORIŢA".

    "A reliable social network already exists in this area along with plenty of raw materials, as sheep breeding is one of the main local occupations. We also have the infrastructure necessary for supply and distribution, and the proximity to Galaţi city, a first most important retail market" , declared Lucian, with great plans in mind, as he wishes to sell his production all over Europe.

    The social business will create three jobs during the first year of activity, will provide professional training for at least two persons every year, in addition to the employees, and will supply thermal insulators for the rehabilitation of houses belonging to socially disadvantaged people from the community.

    Stanciu Lucian

    Initiated by

    Stanciu Lucian

    Title

    Project Initiator

    About:
    Lucian Stanciu-Viziteu established in 2009 SC MELOVINIC SRL, a business that developed activities in software, retail and market surveys.

    Community:

    Independența, Galați

    Domain:

    Wood insulation

    Social Impact:

    Social Development
  • Reclaimed

    What else would four young men need to start a business, considering they form a team with complementary professional education and experience (non-profit and corporate sectors, project management and entrepreneurship, social marketing and corporate sales, photography, graphic design, architecture and interior design)? For Cristian Branea, Andrei Petran, Alexandu Budurescu and Bogdan Costea the answer was "funding from Petrom", which they obtained via the project "Reclaimed", a social business involving the design and manufacture of furniture and interior decorations made of recovered and recycled massive wood.

    "Although I had this business idea for a long time, I would have never had the money for the investment. Over 60% of the budget necessary to start this business in Măneşti is provided by Petrom, however the support is more than financial. The support and consultancy provided by NESsT helping us develop this idea into a business plan, along with the extension of this support for one year have been essential in order to bring this project to life" , said Cristian Branea.

    This social business will create six jobs during the first year, ten more in the second and 22 in the third. In addition, the project also aims at increasing the locals’ revenues by acquiring wooden raw materials worth at least 400 Euro per month, at the profitability level in the first year, as well as at involving at least 30 young people each year in two educational and environmental activities so as to encourage volunteering and care for the environment and the planting of 300 seedlings every year.

    Branea Cristian

    Initiated by

    Branea Cristian

    Title:

    Project Initiator

    About:
    Cristian Branea, Andrei Petran, Alexandru Budurescu and Bogdan Costea have a large experience in corporate and nonprofit sectors, project management and entrepreneurship, social marketing and corporate sales, photography, graphic design, architecture and interior design.

    Community:

    Mănești, Dâmbovița

    Domain:

    Old wood furniture

    Social Impact:

    Social Development
  • Eco Herbal

    The project initiated by Andreea Urse, a centre for the collection and processing of herbal plants located in Ghimpaţi, Giurgiu County, involves the planting of ecological crops on the local inhabitants’ lands. More precisely, the social business aims at equipping and setting up a unit for the collection and processing of medicinal and herbal plants and the dehydration of root vegetables.

    "The locals have not established ecological crops for medicinal and herbal plant so far. The majority of locals who use their lands for commercial purposes focus on tobacco growing. This area has a tradition in this field and even a specific variety of tobacco" , says Andreea Urse.

    The social effects generated by the business include the creation of seven jobs, the involvement of at least 30 locals living in Ghimpaţi in cultivating the free lands in their own households (totalling 7.5 hectares of land) and an income of at least 500 Ron per month per hectare of cultivated land for each household involved.

    "To be more specific, our social business provides the beneficiaries with free specialized training regarding the cultivation, crop monitoring and corrective intervention, as well as seeds necessary to establish the crops. The beneficiaries’ investment consists in agricultural work which will be remunerated with the incomes generated from selling the crops. Although the initiative sounds good in principle, people turned out to be quite reluctant. We have promoted our initiative, by going from door to door, asking the authorities and priests to talk about us during the church service. We have proven that “it can be done” through hard work and perseverance, and we have therefore managed to achieve our goals, at least the theoretical ones, but we are not stopping here!" , says Andreea with excitement.

    Urse Andreea

    Initiated by

    Urse Andreea

    Title

    Project Initiator

    About:
    Andreea has a true entrepreneurial spirit since she was 19 years old, when she developed her first business in Alexandria, her home town. Her business promoted local products and services through a free catalog.

    Community:

    Ghimpați, Giurgiu

    Domain:

    Herbs

    Social Impact:

    Social Development
    Florin Ghindă

    Florin Ghindă

    Cofounder RomaniaPozitiva.ro

    I appreciate the Eco Herbal social business for several reasons: from the fact that the model has the potential to be fairly easily replicated in other communities, to its intelligent use of local natural resources.

    I think it is not easy to learn to have faith in ourselves as members of a community, but I also believe that, with patience and the right attitude, we can change mentalities. I want Andreea to have the energy and the right attitude to cultivate that faith in Ghimpați.

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