Young people who leave a positive mark on the whole community with their ideas and activities were presented as part of the “Youth Changemakers” campaign that took place during the previous two weeks on social networks. We launched the campaign with the desire to point out the importance of involving young people in solving social challenges, but also to highlight young individuals who have already brought positive changes with their initiative.
Through great examples of how an initiative can progress while achieving a social mission, we want to inspire and encourage the younger population to embark on a new venture themselves. As part of the campaign, we presented great initiatives, such as Retro to the rescue, which prolongs life and at the same time helps abandoned animals, Froncla, which provides its employees with good working conditions and a smile, Muffin Store, which employs women from hard-to-employ categories, Sinhro Hub which contributes to the employment and development of the creative economy and the Knjige za šapice that helps animals.
Danijela, Ivana and Vanja from the association Retro to the rescue decided to prolong the life of their clothes, and at the same time to help abandoned animals. On their Instagram profile, they offer pieces of clothing, and the funds raised are invested in the treatment and improvement of the quality of life of these wonderful creatures.
- What inspired you to take the first step in launching your initiative?
Retro to the Rescue: It all started with our crowded closets, and since we have pets and help street animals, we decided to sell the clothes we don’t wear and to invest the money in sterilization and animal food in our neighborhood. We shared the idea on our social networks thinking that maybe only a couple of friends would get involved, however people shared it further, asked how to donate things and how to help. That is how the page ‘Retro to the rescue’ was created. We realized that our work has multiple impacts, because in addition to helping animals, we recycle clothes and contribute to raising awareness of people when it comes to the effects of fast fashion and the benefits of second-hand shopping. We really couldn’t even imagine that the response would be this great. In the three years we have existed, we have collected over 1,700,000 dinars for organizations and individuals who help animals throughout Serbia.
Froncla is a family brand whose clothes are known for comfort and sustainability, and what distinguishes them are good working conditions, fair salaries and decent work, and thus satisfied people.
- We asked Tijana what motivated her to start Froncla and which moment has stood out for her since Froncla exists
Tijana, Froncla: The first motive was time. It’s the quality time you spend with family and friends without having to ask your superiors for permission or leave it for the weekend, summer or next year. The second motive is the belief that something we have in our heads, we can create and have in our hands, and that the whole process of creation takes place within the family. To make Froncla a business that is created on a sound foundation in which the hands and hearts of our associates are respected and protected. Sometime in the middle of last year, we found ourselves among the best domestic products and brands in Serbia, based on consumer ratings. The organizers organized an exhibition in the center of the city. When I was standing in front of the board on which Froncla was presented, I realized that it was time to pat myself on the shoulder and to be happy that we have created a business that does not deviate from the values on which we thrive since the moment we wrote them down on paper when we were sitting one night at a kitchen table. That is when we put down the idea of Froncla.
Sinhro Hub, a space in a famous house in Pančevo which is also a cultural monument, offers youth organizations a place where they will be able to gather, cooperate and create a community free of charge. Sinhro Hub provides education, inspiration and helps everyone working on innovations to develop strategies to all participants and is focused on the development of the digital society and creative economy towards the “smart city” concept, as well as employment and entrepreneurial ventures.
- We talked to Nataša and asked what inspired her to take the first step and what gave Sinhro Hub the motivation to persevere
Nataša, Sinhro Hub: I was inspired by two things to start the initiative. First, listening to hard-working people who have pointed out the problem that for years they have nowhere to gather and do something good for our city and for the people in it. Second, I experienced that such a space is possible. I was part of a team that coordinated a great space for the community in Krakow and I realized how many common factors we have in Pančevo. When you are motivated, you learn quickly about small beauties and small victories that change the course of everyday life. I like to think about the expression “Small flowers crack concrete,” which means that even the smallest things we do leave no one indifferent. Recently someone in our hub told me: “I imagined the other day that SINHRO would close. I just imagined it and realized then how much this space means to me now. I came because I want to do something here.”
The social enterprise Muffin Store has employed women from hard-to-employ categories and produces delicious muffins that are already available in 15 cafes in Belgrade.
- We asked Marko what inspired him to start the Muffin Store and where he got his motivation for his endeavor
Marko, Muffin Store: As my mother has not been able to find a decent job for years that is in line with her age and level of education, I decided to create such a place for her. The inspiration was exactly what I imagined, and that is the image of her who is above all self-confident, fulfilled, and happy with the job and the conditions that every woman should have. Taking this path, I researched in more detail about social entrepreneurship, and on that occasion, I came across alarming data. Today, there are an awfully lot of women over the age of 45 who are unfortunately not competitive in the labor market and fall into the hard-to-employ category. My motivation lies precisely in helping many mothers in this way as I help my own. It is not only providing a job, it is also a confirmation to them that they are still valuable and important in our society. A mother’s smile that has been shyly concealed for long, but now is seen again as a result of a sense of security and satisfaction, is unique and wonderful. The next most beautiful moment happened at the beginning of 2022. Then we finally managed to make one big step forward. We employed a sixty-four-year-old mom who had previously lost her job. Today, she is part of the Muffin Store family, which surely will continue to grow. We need to work on education and bring it closer to the people in all the ways so that they can improve the community in which we live through their responsible business.
Knjige za šapice (Books for Paws) is an Instagram page that sells used books and directs all proceeds to organizations or individuals caring for abandoned animals.
- We talked to Nataša and asked her what motivates her to continue developing this humanitarian idea
Nataša, Knjige za šapice: It is not difficult to set aside 20-30 minutes a day, because those 20-30 minutes can mean a few books sold, and thus extra money, and in these times every dinar is important, especially to people who give time and heart to help homeless animals without any benefit. Every day my heart is full when I see how many people want to help, whether by buying or donating books, or by direct donations, it gives me hope for at least a slightly better future. Every animal whose quality of life improves in any way with the help of funds collected from us is dear to me, and I am happy when I receive good news about healing, adoption and the like. :)
These young drivers of change were proposed in part by our participants in the Program for Sustainable Ideas, and we came to them in part through our own research to find young people who contribute to solving societal challenges.
The campaign is being implemented as part of our strategy to promote entrepreneurship and the impact of the economy among young people, and is being implemented thanks to the support of the US Embassy in Belgrade.