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Dive into Slovenian social entrepreneurship

Between 13 and 18 May the Slovenian organization N.K.L. hosted a forum on social entrepreneurship in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The initiative is part of the DIVE 3: Zero to One> 1 to N project, where the Bread Houses Network is a partner.Visits were organized in various socially oriented businesses, as the tour started at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology. We were surprised to find out that there is a separate Directorate for Entrepreneurship and Technology. It aims to support the international competitiveness of Slovenian enterprises by developing policies and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation. There are about 260 companies registered as social enterprises in Slovenia, most benefiting from the Ministry’s financial assistance and membership programs. It supports startups, SE, educational laboratories and access to employment through tax refunds, public auctions, and more. Also, the ministry has helped to provide a space free of rent, left from a bankrupted store, to one of these companies- Preoblikovanje, which produces wood-based furniture for zero carbon footprint. They employ 8 people, 5 of them from vulnerable groups.

Some organizations, however, do not feel that support. Judo Club Sokol teaches about 60 disabled people by offering them special classes. Funding is a problem, as more Paralympic disciplines have been subsidized than the special Olympics. They receive approximately EUR 1,000 a year of funding from the ministry.

The following visits filled us with enthusiasm and optimism. Two of the companies recycle used items and clothes and sell them. Smet-Umet makes bags, toys, and other items as they like to focus on the amount of rubbish that is produced and how it can be transformed into useful and beautiful things. Drustvo verjamem vate sells donated clothes and second-hand toys, and recycles them to make new clothes, which they also sell. They have employed 7 people, some of them with special needs. They also have a day center with a café where people with special needs can create and learn basic skills. Stara roba -Nova roba is also a second-hand shop that sells various donated goods in good condition. They hire former drug addicts and / or homeless, helping them with social inclusion. They have started with an EU grant but are now 100% self-sustainable as they can pay salaries and rent.

School and university students are the focus of next businesses. Makerlab is part of the University of Ljubljana and is a place where students can develop their own projects with expensive equipment such as 3D printers. They have social entrepreneurship in the form of FabLabs, which has them throughout Slovenia, so that young people in remote areas can also access technological training. They are funded by the university and through small membership fees. Zavod 404 is the first youth center in Slovenia for technology and research. It aims to provide young people with the opportunity to acquire technical skills and interest in entrepreneurship and research. They organize frequent workshops for students and their teachers in the field of electrical engineering, woodwork and others.

As you can see, Slovenia’s social entrepreneurship environment is favorable, and regardless of whether they have the support of state institutions or not, people’s striving to contribute to the environment and to support people in need is a sufficient impetus for creating a meaningful business model.

All Different, All Equal

Youth unemployment has been a serious issue in Europe for some time as the trend since 2015 (20,3% unemployed youth according to Eurostat) is to decrease it (in 2017- 16,8% unemployed). Not that positive situation is observed in Turkey: in 2015 youth unemployment rate was 18,6% whereas in 2017 was 20,7%. This increase has posed a threat to the self-esteem of the young people as well as to the country economy as a whole. Tackling problems of such a scale often requires innovative and out- of –the –box approaches.

Bread Houses Network has the honor and pleasure to be part of such creative project as the Erasmus+ “Theatre Pitching for Employment”, which was organized by Akdeniz University between the dates of 6-10 May 2019 and focused on youth unemployment problem in Antalya/Turkey. The workshop called “All Different, All Equal” tried to use theatre techniques to empower young people and help them present their ideas in a more effective way. Led by the talented actors from the private theatre Kirmizi Kalem Sanat, we could experience various Image theater methods, developed by Augusto Boal as a social change tool, also known as the Theater of the Oppressed. The project aimed not only at developing a stronger self-image and social awareness but also at the ability to present the idea for 30 seconds called pitching. You can watch the final forum here.

The project “Theatre Pitching for Employment” is coordinated by the Trešnjevka Cultural Centre in Croatia and implemented together with five partners from Poland, Greece, Slovenia, Turkey and Bulgaria. It’s aiming at improving the access to employment of people from unprivileged group (e.g. people with disabilities, unemployed, stigmatized people, and ethnic and/or religion minorities). Each partner country will hold a workshop based on educational theater techniques and pitching. The first workshop took place in Krakow, Poland where the Polish organization Multicultura introduced the partners to a method of collective poems writing – a unique instrument which can be used for empowering marginalized groups and expressing their social messages. You can watch the poem here.

The next workshop will be in Maribor, Slovenia between 8 and 14 September 2019.


BHN dives deeper into social enterpreneurship

Between 28.03 and 03.04.2019. the second stage of the Erasmus + DIVE 3: Zero to One> 1 to N project took place in Florina, Greece. The main focus of the meeting was to build partnerships between the participating organizations and generate potential project ideas in the field of social entrepreneurship and the fight against youth unemployment. More about the project here.

Following an intensive introduction to the Erasmus + project structure, partner organizations were inspired and united around various ideas on how to support the development of unemployed youths in their respective countries. The Bread Houses Network, as a good example of social engagement and entrepreneurship, initiated a project on how to link organic farmers and migrants in the partner countries of Italy, Greece, Poland, South Africa and Bulgaria through the organization’s methods . This will solve the problems of various farmers’ organizations, such as lack of labor, and migrants will have the opportunity for vocational training and employment in a fast-growing sector.

Another exciting project where the Bread Houses Network will take part together with Italy and Greece is to give a contemporary look to the disappearing traditional crafts – how to make them more attractive to young people so they want to learn and develop their own business.

There will be more interesting meetings and events to come as we “sift” and “knead” these opportunities for a better chance for the young people.

The biggest American university on the Balkans hosts a bread making event

The founder of the Bread Houses Network Nadezhda Savova – Grigorova inspired a big community event in the American University in Bulgaria, based in the city of Blagoevgrad  – a bread making which brought together more than 40 students and faculty, local social organizations and public officials. Following the steps of the “Theatre of Crumbs” method, they shared their vision about a more dynamic and united Blagoevgrad. Since the beginning of this academic year Nadezhda is an Anthropology professor at AUBG.

Theatre Pitching in Krakow

Is 30 seconds enough to present a project idea? Yes! You just have to step on the scene, pick the right words, master a confident position and look your interlocutor in the eyes.

This is what the Bread Houses Network team learned in Krakow as part of the first training in the Erasmus+ project The Pitch: Theatre of Ideas. The project is coordinated by the Trešnjevka Cultural Centre in Croatia and implemented together with six partners from Poland, Greece, Slovenia and Bulgaria. It’s aiming at improving the access to employment of people from unprivileged group (e.g. people with disabilities, unemployed, stigmatized people, and ethnic and/or religion minorities). The partners will achieve this by exchanging knowledge and connecting a method for short presentations – pitching – with educational theatre methods.

In Krakow the Polish organization Multicultura introduced the partners to a method of collective poems writing – a unique instrument which can be used for empowering marginalized groups and expressing their social messages. Check out the performance of the great song that the participants created during the collective writing workshop:

30 seconds

Although there’s a lot at stake,

when you know there’s no mistake

pitching is a piece of cake!

The next meeting will be hosted by Akdeniz University in Antalya, Turkey between 5 and 11 May.


Baker without Borders prepares a community meal in a homeless encampment in Minnesota

Adam Majewski, a baker and a community activist from Minneapolis, USA  is an active Baker without Borders member since 2017. He believes that “Those who are most in need of things like help with food and basic necessities, deserve the best and finest just as much as all other human beings on this planet we call home.” This is why in October last year, Adam organized and delivered a community meal in a homeless encampment in the Twin Cities. In his passionate story about the event, Adam shares his thoughts on individual and community responsibility towards those who are left behind.

We publish the original story of Adam. Find out more about his inspiring initiatives and ideas at https://themajesticchef.wordpress.com

Crumbassador: A Wall Of Our Forgotten Brothers and Sister, and Bakers Without Boarders-TC: Doing Our Best To Help!

By Adam Majewski

Minneapolis, Minnesota, as a member of the Bakers Without Boarders Crumbassador team, and a career Chef, food is and for the most part, has been a big part of my life for a long time, I find it to be an important part of everyone’s daily life. I’m not a big fan of bringing up the topic of politics in my work, in order to separate my professional life, from my own personal opinion. I how ever have found that in some cases politics have to be spoken about on a level which coincides with some specific topics. In the era of trump, politics have finally here in Minneapolis and St. Paul made poverty and Homelessness more and more visible which is always a sad reminder that poverty and homelessness even still exists in this country, but I feel that it is much-needed in order to hopefully wake people up to the fact, we as a society have allowed our problems as a community of supposed like-minded individuals to go on for way to long, and has created a society which benefits the few at the expense of the many. People in this day and age are so wrapped up in their own life’s problems that we forget, in order for society, no matter how big or small to function, that we are all in this journey called life together and that we need to continually help raise up our fellow humans to the same level of our own achievements, or everything else crumbles at our feet.

With that said, here in Minnesota at least, from my experience there have been a lot of people who have been left behind and forgotten about. The largest group of which have been Native Americans who have suffered the most from not being treated the same or even as equals with respect and dignity. Over this past summer, an encampment of homeless, both individuals and families, has sprung up, along the the Hiawatha and Cedar ave corridor of the East Phillips neighborhood. The growing emergency to provide access of basic necessities to these deserving individuals ranging from food, clothing, and clean water and housing for those most in need, children, the elderly and those most valnurable by no fault of their own who all are living here.

Now this past friday October 26, 2018, I organized and delivered my first community meal delivery as a Crumbassador for the Bakers Without Boarders Initiative here in the Twin Cities, to the Homeless Encampment where Cedar and Hiawatha meet. In the past I’ve spoken a lot about people coming together as a community to support those most in need, and have finally started my own path to being more community oriented and active with supporting those most in need of support. As I was prepping food, I became very anxietious with wanting to do a good job and provide them with the best meal i can which to be honest I felt it really was not my own best work and could have not better, mainly due to the rice being cooked through was a bit over cooked on the top layer do to poor container choice for cooking.

How ever the chicken was perfect, but after getting to the site, setting up and starting to serve, my mind went blank, after which I had the biggest realization of my life, a sense of, This Is What I’m Suppose To Be Doing. How ever next time and everytime after that I need to keep improving and serving better and better food. Why? Because those who are most in need of things like help with food and basic necessities, deserve the best and finest just as much as all other human beings on this planet we call home. In fact they probably disserve it more, and I am one of the many bakers, food professionals, fellow human beings who care to take responsibility in providing our services, our leadership skills, as well our skills in our respective careers, at no charge or cost of any kind to them. People out there will ask why? They will not understand! And the only answer I can give is, because, there is no reason at all not to.

We as a group, have lived in a society for to long, which allows us to, think, act, and continue our lives as if we individually don’t need to do anything, because the person sitting right next to us will do it. The problem in this thinking is that no one is putting in to the equation that the person sitting next to every other person is thinking the same exact thing about themselves not needing to help, while also thinking that you will do it. This needs to change, no doubt about it, and until we all take responsibility for not just ourselves but one another, which does include myself doing the same, there will always be poverty and hunger.

what I would have to say, I took most out of my first experience making a full effort to be a positive part of society, is that I need to be more involved helping others, as well it is what makes me the most happy, to make sure others are receiving a good home cooked meal from the heart.

What I hope is next as a Bakers Without Boarders Crumbassador here in the TC, is continue working with those at the Hiawatha Encampment providing meals and food when we are able to raise enough money to do so, through donations, community focused events and community focused sports to bring EVERYONE together from the poor and homeless all the way up the social ladder, no matter what it takes to create positive change both in our local community and hopefully around the world.


The BHN model part of three international platforms on good practice exchange

Recently the Bread Houses Network models and methods were chosen to be presented on three international platforms aiming at spreading good practices in the field of social change as well as establishing partnerships. You can find us at:

RACCOMBAT – a platform aiming at presenting and sharing “tools and mechanisms to prevent and combat racism and xenophobia against non-nationals throughout their whole integration in society”. The BHN model will be also presented in a printed material, describing three main good practices identified during in the frame of RACCOMBAT project. The brochure will be published in English, German, Romanian, French, Greek and Bulgarian and spread among 3500 stakeholders in Europe.

URBiNAT Natural Based Solutions catalogue – a platform which “integrates territorial and technological solutions, comprising products and infrastructures, but also participatory and social and economic solutions, comprising processes and services, putting in dialogue the physical structure and the social dimension of the public space.” As part of the URBiNAT project, the BHN model will serve as an inspiration for local communities in Portugal, France, Denmark, Belgium, Slovenia, Italy, Iran and China for the development of their local natural based solutions.

International Agora’s Project  – online platform under construction for cross-border sharing of know-how and projects. The aim is to research partnership for Social and Solidarity Economy companies (technical, commercial, financial) in one or more countries; exchange and/or transfer of know-how between projects; fertilize, incubate and develop social and solidarity economy projects, initiatives or start-ups in different countries. The BHN role will be of a potential partner.

Bread Houses Network presented in a food podcast

In December 2018 the BHN team was joined for two weeks by Jana and Sylvia – two energetic students from the University of St Andrews, UK travelling through Europe to visit and work with different food-related projects having a positive environmental or social impact.

They created a great video  telling what is a Bread House and recorded an interview with Zdrava and Sandra from the Sofia Bread House. The interview became part of Jana and Sylvia’s Travelling Foodcast – a podcast on inspiring food-related projects aiming at positive change!

The two students also supported our team in the organization and holding of bread making events and participated very actively in workshops with refugees, Roma children, people with disabilities and other groups. As part of their stay in Sofia they discovered other social initiatives related to bread, but also organized a networking event for local activist “Food as a tool for change” at which they presented the initiatives and NGO’s they visited during their travels.




FedEx supported the Bread Houses Network core team

In September 2018 the BHN team had the great opportunity to participate in the first FedEx Global Leadership Corps program in Bulgaria, aiming at supporting civil society organizations. The project was implemented in partnership with the international organization PYXERA Global and engaged four more Bulgarian NGO’s: Humans in the LoopJA Bulgaria, Citizens and Trust for Social Achievement.

Within the program three experienced FedEx experts worked with the BHN team for a month: Noki Martin (financial exert from FedEx Services), Wes Milligan (communication expert from FedEx Freight) and Sarah Subick (organizational development expert from FedEx Express). Their goal was to strengthen the BHN team by examining its business plan and by helping to build up the professional capacity of the organization. Based on interviews, observed events, SWOT analysis, RACI analysis, review of all available written material, financial material, and web presence, the FedEx team submitted recommendations for improvements in the existing work processed but also for introduction of new work activities within the organization.


Bread connected the Danube countries in Ulm

Between 12th and 15th July Zdrava Vodenicharova from the Sofia Bread House visited Ulm, Germany and took part in series of events part of the project Tastes of Danube – Bread Connects. On July, 13th the conference “Intangible cultural heritage in the Danube Region – a national asset or a contribution to European identity?” brought together more than 100 representatives from 13 countries in the Danube. Apart from lectures about cultural heritage as a contribution to European identity, partner groups of the project reported their experiences with the method “Bread making as a social event” of Bread Houses Network in which they were trained and certificated in October 2017 in the Sofia Bread House. In the evening, the Danube-Networkers celebrated their 10-year anniversary at Haus der Begegnung in Ulm. On July 14th Zdrava visited the old, but still very active community oven in Seissen village where together with other participants and the mayor Barbara Rüd baked traditional breads. The afternoon was spent in the unique Museum of Bread Culture in Ulm.

The highlight was the Danube Bridge Breakfast on 15th July located at the historical bridge Herdbrücke which connects the two parts of the city. Citizens from Ulm and Neu-Ulm and the surroundings, as well as people from different Danube countries were invited to the event to taste small snacks and to talk about everyday life, cultures, interests and experiences. The activity on the connecting bridge illustrated the uniqueness of the Danube neighbor countries as well as the goal of the organizers to live in a peaceful and solidary Europe united in diversity. Most sincere thanks to Carmen Stadelhofer and her team!