Romani Design

Romani Design is a social enterprise and a fashion label that reinterprets traditional Romani motifs with a modern “twist” for women who like unique brands and socially responsible products. It aims to create a dialogue between Roma and non-Roma population as well as jobs for Roma women.

The label takes up Roma traditions and shows courage for colours and patterns: Fashion, jewellery and accessories by Romani Design are very much inspired by traditional Roma clothing. Traditional fabrics and patterns come upon innovative shapes and cuts, the combinations are as daring as well-made. And that’s not all: the Hungarian designer and jeweller Erika Varga not only designs fashion and jewellery, but aims to convey a message with her creations: “My designs are influenced and inspired by traditional Roma clothing and appeal to Roma and non-Roma alike, thus enabling a cultural exchange.”

Romani Design is also a learning centre for disadvantaged young people, for unemployed Roma and non-Roma and is supported within the ERSTE Foundation Roma Partnership. This informal alliance was created in 2012, together with the foundation’s partner NGOs that are dedicated to improving the life of Roma people in different communities across central and south-eastern Europe. As well as receiving financial assistance, members of the ERSTE Foundation Roma Partnership are supported by a range of experts and consultants on their journey to becoming more sustainable, more marketable, more successful and more independent in today’s complex world.

Read more about Romani Design in the Spring 2015 edition of EFFECT magazine. 

ColtivAzioni Sociali (Social CultivAction)

ColtivAzioni Sociali was a three year project that aimed to improve community living and foster a culture of sharing in Dergano, a district of Milan . The project used food as its main tool to reinforce social inclusion and further cultural exchange. The objective was to promote the active participation of children and their families, whether Italians or non-Italians or new or old inhabitants of the district. It helped to create a network of micro services for common use.

One element of the project was the way it offered workshops on urban gardening and agriculture, through interacting with gardeners and farmers. Those involved learnt from each other and exchanged recipes and techniques of food preparation from all over Italy and the world.

Through this engagement and dialogue there are now many ideas in the pipeline for the neighbourhood, for example sharing snacks in public spaces and ”open kitchens” where together people prepare and share traditional recipes. They are even hoping to produce their own neighbourhood bear and implement an experimental service for grocery delivery.

Find out more about the work here! 


The project was co-financed by Fondazione Cariplo and promoted by the ICEI together with the association ABG (associazione di genitori), ASNADA onlus), associazione and  L’amico Charly onlus in collaboration with INDACO, Politecnico di Milano and the institute Bodio Guicciardi plus other local associations.

Projet Banlieues

Fondation BNP Paribas is committed to working with local, microfinance and educational initiatives in disadvantaged suburbs. Projet Banlieues aims to get people back into work through helping them to set up their own business, and aiding local social initiatives and educational programmes for young people – these are all ways of helping to combat social marginalisation in deprived city neighbourhoods, in which the BNP Paribas Foundation, in liaison with the BNP Paribas retail banking network in France, is involved.

In particular, Projet Banlieues aims to:
– improve community life
– promote the social integration through the employment and entrepreneurial spirit
– ensuring the access to education to all


Find out more about this project here

Fondazione Tender to Nave Italia

Fondazione Tender to Nave Italia is an Italian NGO created by the Italian navy with the aim of offering opportunities of learning , rehabilitation and therapy through the sea and navigation experiences.

Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio della Spazia has been supporting Nave Italia for several years now, in order to boost social inclusion and improve the quality of life of local people with disabilities or who come from disadvantaged backgrounds in the territory that the foundation is active within.

Bread Houses

The bread house movement unites people from all walks of life through the simple act of baking. Organisers and participants say bread houses spark cross-cultural dialogues and enhance understanding among community members while bridging ethnic, cultural, racial, economic and religious divides.

Today bread houses can be found in 20 cities in more than 16 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America, and Africa. The bread house movement consists mainly of two components: community centres, with regular hours and frequent workshops, and events that are held at least once a month at different locations.

Orquestra Geração

Supported by Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, the Orquestra Geração/Generation Orchestra is an educational project that demonstrates how music can be used to advance social inclusion. It was inspired by the methodology created in 1973 by Dr. José Antonio Abreu in Venezuela and used by the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. The Generation Orchestra is a case in point for the part music can play in fostering social inclusion . Established in 2007, it is one of a group of actions carried out in Casal da Boba (Amadora) as part of the Generation Project.

The Generation Orchestra is mostly made up of 10 to 13 year-old pupils who learn to express themselves through music. As part of the orchestra, pupils are given the opportunity to develop the  self-confidence and knowledge needed for growth, this encompasses a balance and hope that aims to further childrens’ ability to move away from exclusion and marginality. The Orquestra Geração involved 16 schools in the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon and Coimbra. It integrated and funded 800 students in orchestral practice and educational success and created new opportunities for children and young people from areas with less access to arts education.

The project has been accompanied and monitored by independent institutions, as well as the educational management of the School of Music Conservatory, and has relied on municipal and private support. The method of using music for social inclusion is now considered to be one of the 50 best social practices of the European Union.

La pecora nera

These bottles of wine come from La Pecora Nera (Black Sheep), a restaurant located in the Piazza San Francesco in Lucca, Italy that employs young people with intellectual disabilities.

The project not only promotes social inclusion and the employment of people with disabilities, it also creates a multi-purpose meeting space in the town. In 2011 the project was awarded a national
accessibility prize.

The project was founded in 2007 by ANFFAS Onlus of Lucca, in partnership with its social cooperatives (Cose Persone, Progetto Lavoro).

The project has the support of a range of public and private organisations, including Fondazione Banca del Monte di Lucca.


Superar allows young people to experience the importance and beauty of making music and dancing together. Within a friendly and supportive atmosphere, children and teenagers develop themselves freely in school, enhancing their key life skills: self-confidence, respect, discipline, a sense of community and a sense of responsibility.

Music, dancing and orchestra classes take place almost daily for children and teenagers in kindergartens, schools and community centres.

We support Superar because we have been infected by the enthusiasm it has sparked in everyone involved. When children suddenly discover skills and talents they have not previously been aware of, when parents beam with pride, when concert goers see just how diverse our society is on stage, while listening to the harmonious sounds this diversity can create, when brilliant artists meet people from completely different living environments and feel enriched by them – then integration becomes reality and is not merely an empty phrase. Superar inspires you to come together!” – Doraja Eberle, President and CEO of ERSTE Foundation

Down Cafe


The Down Cafe was opened in Konya (Turkey), with the aim of enabling young people with mental disabilities to participate in the economic and social life of the town. The Cafe also helps to change the negative perception of people with Down Syndrome and other mental diseases, within the Eregli community.

Students with mental disabilities are able to participate in production through practical trainings at vocational schools and yet they are unable to make the most of their potential outside of schools, in social and economic life.

Project Results

  • Project website ( and Facebook page.
  • Sevgi Down Cafe” where youth with Down syndrome and mental disabilities can work was officially opened.
  • 14 teachers from Kâzim Demirel School participated in a “training of trainer” programme.
  • 37 students attended applied training and 24 of them started working at the café in rotations.
  • 7 students from Eregli Down Café received applied training at Etiler Tourism and Hotel Management School and visited Sisli Down Café with their teachers in Istanbul.
  • 9 young people with mental disabilities started working in 2 different facilities in town after their Down Cafe experience.
  • A “Practices Workshop for Down Cafe in Turkey” was held in Konya Eregli to share the Down Cafe experience.

Entrepreneurs for Social Change

Along the shores of the Mediterranean the effects of the economic crisis are still being felt with high levels of youth unemployment and a lack of opportunities.

Where the local communities are bereft of economic activity and upward mobility is scarce, innovative social entrepreneurs committed to making positive social change are assuming a pivotal role in the creation of a more promising future for all.

Entrepreneurs for Social Change (E4SC) is a project aimed at supporting young social entrepreneurs from the Euro-Mediterranean area whose business activities seek to create employment opportunities and promote non-violent social change. The E4SC project was devised by the Fondazione CRT in collaboration with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Through a week of training and 9 months of mentoring, 20 young social entrepreneurs from the MENA region are given the chance to acquire the business, funding, marketing and intercultural understanding needed to help take their businesses to the next level and create positive social impact.

here is the link for the Webdoc on La Stampa’s website which gives a brief outline of the 2014 participants social initiatives: