Craiova Students Receive Grants to Launch Social Enterprises Focused on Economic Growth and Community Life

CRAIOVA, Romania, June 5, 2019 — Ford Romania announces today six new social entrepreneurship programs to be sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of the company. The projects are developed under the umbrella of the newly launched Ford Resource and Engagement Centre in Craiova (CRAF), inaugurated in October last year.

Ford Romania group shot
Photo by Ford Romania

Designed to support job growth, economic potential and enrich community life for local residents in the Oltenia region, CRAF Craiova is the subject of a four-year $1 million investment by Ford Motor Company Fund, working with its international grant making partner GlobalGiving.

CRAF Craiova is a collaboration with the Asociatia Pentru Educatie SV Oltenia (EDUCOL), a local non-profit organisation that seeks to maximise training, development and employment opportunities for young people; and with the City Hall of Craiova, which is providing building premises.

Similarly to last year, a competition among students from various faculties within Craiova University has been run by EDUCOL who has offered counselling and mentoring to help the students define their proposals and submit them for review by the organisation, Ford of Romania, Ford Fund, Craiova City Hall and the Craiova University Students' Federation.

The six winning projects for the 2019-2020 program to receive grants ranging from $15,000 up to $30,000:

• AgeleSS - Shoes, Sneakers and More: Upcycling old shoes to provide affordable footwear while reducing the negative environmental impact of discarding millions of pairs of shoes per year
• ASKS - Academy of Science, Knowledge and Skills: Helping to encourage more young people into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) with hands-on workshops, a STEM summer camp and links to local businesses for real-world experience
• GRENA - Green Nature for Healthy Life: Establishment of Greenhouses to help increase crop yield, developing new plant varieties that are adaptable to interchangeable climatic conditions, supporting smallholder farmers and providing healthy lifestyle workshops
• H4H - Human for Human: A human-centric rehabilitation centre covering multiple areas of medical interest, providing greater access to information and advice, physical therapy, speech therapy, psychosocial education and supporting the personal development of young people
• NAO - Innovative new software program for NAO robots that will ensure interactive and motivational engagement with autistic children during therapy sessions
• MarCo - Marketing and communications enterprise that will support community-focused NGOs and CRAF social enterprises that require bespoke social impact communications support.

"I was really delighted to see the number and variety of proposals that we received this year There is a clear focus on making people's lives better with projects tackling unmet community needs in areas differing from agriculture to healthcare to education. The passion and commitment of all the students is so impressive," said Debbie Chennells, Ford Fund Manager, Ford of Europe.

The six new projects will join the three projects currently under development at CRAF, which also received grants last year EcOil-Cuv (collection of waste oil for recycling into an organic soap product), GoBike Craiova (bicycle rental hubs, at an affordable price, to stimulate mobility and a healthy lifestyle, The Centre of Learning Assistance for School and Society (afterschool program designed to integrate children with disadvantaged backgrounds, supported by language courses).

Leonardo Manescu, the CRAF manager and Educol President stated, "It looks that instead of migrating to more promising cities, our students mobilize themselves and take action to modernize the community with the tools granted by Ford Fund."

More than 30 students will be working together in implementing the projects, joining thus their colleagues at the Ford Resource and Engagement Centre.The Centre enables students and recent graduates from the University of Craiova to design and launch innovative and sustainable social enterprises – businesses with a social purpose – to drive economic progress and make a positive impact on their community.

"It's remarkable to see so many "outside of the box" ideas. As one of the biggest employers in the region it is very encouraging to see the great potential of our young people. I'm very impressed by the business acumen and the sense of social responsibility of our Craiova students. I wish them every success and look forward to seeing the results and impact of their projects in our community," added Ian Pearson, the President of Ford Romania.

Ford Fund works globally by making strategic investments focused on building communities, improving education and promoting driving safety as part of its Operation Better World initiative.

"I am very glad to see young people involved in initiatives that directly address the local community and provide solutions to the needs of Craiova citizens. We support projects without hesitation, like last year. Much success to the 6 teams selected this year, in double number comparing to 2018!" said Mihail Genoiu, Mayor of Craiova.

Recent Ford Motor Company Fund activities in Romania include the rehabilitation of the heliport from the local county hospital in Craiova and the refurbishment of two local kindergartens (Facai and Ingerasi). Also, throughout June, Ford Romania together with partner Napoca Rally Academy will be running the Ford Driving Skills for Life course in Pitesti, Bucuresti and Timisoara. DSFL is Ford's multi awarded free defensive driving program that reaches more than 1000 young drivers each year in Romania and more than 2,500 teenagers through in-school seminars.