The implementation of CRAFT FLOW: REFUGEE EMPOWERMENT THROUGH CRAFT&ENTREPRENEURSHIP project introduced the methodological basis for craft&entrepreneurship start up programme, targeted especially at vulnerable social groups of young asylum seekers, immigrants, and refugees. The project was a product of cross sectoral cooperation of three organisations: Terra Vera Association for Sustainable development (Kostanjevica na Krki, Slovenia), Craftspace (Birmingham, UK), and Institute for Conflict Transformation and Social Justice, Queen’s University (Belfast, Northern Ireland). One of the project’s main results was a toolkit ‘From crafter to entrepreneur’, designed especially for members of vulnerable social groups - in this phase for young migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. The toolkit was divided into a series of chapters, each covering an important step in the development of craft-entrepreneurship initiative and ethical marketing brand, from idea to the final product, developing necessary knowledge and competences needed for the effective marketing. Toolkit was a result of expert recommendations and experience of our partner organisations, as well as improvements deriving from working experience with the testing group in Slovenia. Individual chapters were regularly tested on a group of 20 participants (refugees) and therefore provided a non-formal learning programme. This helped participants strengthen their entrepreneurship skills and get a first-hand experience of cultural heritage of the local environment, develop an ethical marketing brand and cooperate with local artisans/ designers in order to create prototypes of handicraft products with added value. The testing programme was carried out throughout the 10-months project in form of two days workshops taking place each month. We also developed mentoring and peer support, emphasizing the role of psychological and social help to the refugees. We developed the methods of team building and group work, the development of key competences, capacity building in craft and entrepreneurship and the ability of linking traditional technologies to the approaches of contemporary design.
With the project we aimed to introduce new, innovative ways of networking on all levels. With formal and non-formal means, on local as well as international level, we created a social network between participants (refugees) and local handcrafters, designers, instructors, potential employers and other stakeholders who could pass their practical experience and know-how, for we believed that the formation of networks and access to these was as equally important as business training and technical assistance. Our aim was to contribute to a better integration of the refugees into the European Union, providing good frameworks of social inclusion and promote the benefits of their cultural contribution and creativity.
In the project, we set up E-platform in Slovene and English language, which we maintained also after the project as a free open source. It systematised and organised the non-formal learning material of the project (Skillshare, Online toolkitl, webinars, video material and the basis for the online shop where it was possible to seel&buy products once the project was over).