Social Entrepreneurship in Luxembourg- study visit

December was a busy month at Art Square ASBL, but the highlight, of course, was hosting the partners from the SEYW project on “The added value of social entrepreneurship in youth work” funded by the Erasmus+ Porgamme of the European Union here in Luxembourg! We organized a jampacked two-days study tour on December 8thto 11thwhere representatives from the partner organizations from France, Italy, Estonia, Greece and Bulgaria got to experience the best of Luxembourg’s social economic sector.

 

Kicking off the tour at Art Square Lab’s office in the Artrooms on 48, Avenue de la Liberty, we had the privilege of having a member of 4motion ASBL come to speak to us about education initiatives designed by their organization aimed at social change particularly for young people. Next, Art Square Luxembourg ASBL gave a presentation on their work targeted youth and social practices and then the night was closed by a visit to the enchanting Luxembourg Christmas markets!

 

Our first visit on Monday started at the MeSiS building on Cote d’Eich, or Maison de l’économie sociale et de l’innovation sociale. Welcomed by 6zero1 SA SIS and Compellio SA, we had a very informative session about what it means to become a “SIS” in Luxembourg, how the accreditation is achieved, what are some of the legalities around it, and why very few businesses actually choose to go the SIS route. 6zero1 is often regarded as the pioneer of the social business model in Luxembourg, and has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs in Luxembourg intertwine their social ambitions into their business plans, while Compellio has assisted big companies like Adem, PWC or the University of Luxembourg stay ahead of the curve through initiatives solutions focusing on tools such as digitalization.

 Visit in MESIS and 6zero1

The second stop on the agenda was a short but inspiring one. Digital Inclusion ASBL, a project that gives technological opportunities to people that would not otherwise be able to afford or access computers, gave us a tour of their small, but compact space, near the Gare. Supporting the circular economy, Digital Inclusion reuses and refurbishes second hand private and public computer and mobile phone donations, and finally passes them on to eligible people for the program. Courses are also offered in eleven languages for up-leveling digital literacy as well as earning recognized accreditation for computer skills.

 

Time for lunch anyone? Eugenio Curiel (SIS) was kind enough to accommodate our group and provide us with a delicious homemade Italian meal. With a hidden Italian library upstairs, Curiel has been a meeting point for Italian emigrants to discuss political and social ideas since its birth in 1971, and continues to function as an association supporting the Italian community in Luxembourg.

 

Bellies full, we headed over to IMS Luxembourg ASBL in the PWC building in the south of Luxembourg city. For over 10 years IMS has been at the forefront of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Luxembourg, and connects many large companies like Auchan, Foyer, Post and PWC through a network focusing on social and sustainable alternatives practices that can be introduced in the workplace to benefit people and the planet.

 

One of the many OUNI cooperative members was kind enough to fit us in for an evening tour of the Gare shop (soon to be a Dudelange location). Luxembourg’s first packaging-free organic grocery store, OUNI is a cooperative with a big social impact not only in terms of its environmental and ecological footprint, but also its social model. In fact, it is owned and operated entirely by its members which have grown to over a thousand people, and in this way, the decision-making of the company rests in the hands of all its stakeholders, who have equal possibility to have their voices heard despite the size of their share.

 Visit in OUNI

Finally, we finished our night off at Chiche! Chiche! is a chic Lebanese restaurant employing over forty refugees—helping many more than that with accommodation and residence papers over the few years it has been running—located in Limpertsberg, serving fantastic middle eastern delights like fresh falafel and hummus. We opted for the family style menu, and were able to try almost everything on the menu which was complimented by the history of Chiche! delivered by one of the owners whose passion to assist migrants in Luxembourg radiated on her face durning her explanation of Chiche’s story.

 

Day 2 and the SEYW group was up bright and early to visit BENU Village Esch ASBL. Greeted by Georges, a Luxembourgish man wearing head to toe Benu-made recycled fashion, we were given the low down about Luxembourg as the second most wasteful country in the world next to Qatar. Blown away by this fact, he went on to tell us about what people throw out in this country and how BENU upcycles clothing, furniture and even food about to spoil. BENU Village will expand from their current headquarters in a container building, constructed entirely of second hand materials, across the street into a sustainable, natural restaurant.

Benu Village 

Kulturfabrik ASBL, our second visit of the day, was an old slaughter house turned art/dance/music hub for creatives to come and practice or showcase their talents. With events happening every week, Kulturfabrik is busy setting up stages and soundchecks in their music halls, screening alternative movies in their theater on old film rolls, having after work drinks in their bar open to the public and putting on workshops like the annual Flamenco days.

KulturFabrik

 

Lucky to have reserved a table at Mesa – Transition Minett, we enjoyed a nutritious bio-local meal over chats about the “REconomy” and what Mesa’s current contributions are regarding this theme. A new building is under construction down the road that will house the office for Transition Minett employees to work on their new projects for the Esch region, such as the transition of public walking spaces to be more user friendly. We got to walk through the large space after our lunch and envision the terrace which will be used for the eco café in the plans for 2020.

 

We finished our day at the Fab Lab in Limpertsberg Lycée des Arts et Métiers. As the only Fab Lan in Luxembourg connected to the global network of Fab Labs, we saw state of the art machines designed for 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC sessions and 3D modelling that are available for use not only by students but to the public who has an interest in creating, using an array of materials from wood to plastic. The membership fees are incredibly low, especially compared to Belgium, to encourage people with ideas to bring their projects to life without having to purchase expensive machinery.

 

By the end of day two the SEYW group was completely exhausted from running around the small country, but at the same time they left inspired to share the best practices they saw from Luxembourg in their home countries. Although the social solidarity economy might be small in Luxembourg, the general feeling from the organizations that we visited was that the interest in going social or sustainable is growing, and they are optimistic about a more clean, green and social Luxembourg in the future!

 

#seyw #erasmusplus #youth #socialentrepreneurship #sustainability

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