The Ford Resource and Engagement Center supports eight new social entrepreneurship programs

Posted by Florin Muna on August 7th, 2022

Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, welcomes eight new social entrepreneurship programs at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center in Craiova. Students can design and launch innovative and sustainable ways to drive social and economic progress in this social incubator.

CRAF Craiova is one of five such centers globally and represents the collaboration between the Ford Fund, the SV Oltenia Education Association (EDUCOL) - a local non-profit organization that aims to maximize opportunities for training, development, and youth employment, and Craiova City Hall, which provided workspaces and permanent support.

The Ford Fund, working with their international partner, GlobalGiving, confirms their support for the center for another four years. Since 2018, more than .35 million has been invested in student enterprises.

As in previous years, EDUCOL organized a competition between students from several faculties within the University of Craiova and offered advice and mentoring to help students define their proposals and send them for evaluation to Ford, Ford Fund, City Hall Craiova, and the Student Association of the University of Craiova.

The eight winning projects for the 2022-2023 program are to receive grants ranging from ,000 to ,000, ongoing mentorship, office space in the CRAF building, and Design-thinking training sessions supported by the Henry Ford Academy in the US. These are:

  • Empower Youth Center – A youth center that will offer a range of activities to help develop human and financial skills as well as career guidance
  • Craiova Travel Guide - A travel guide available online that provides information on tourist attractions and craft services in Craiova, including directions for easy access
  • Intelligent Traffic Light – Implementing an innovative road traffic control system that will improve traffic behavior for pedestrians and drivers.
  • TESI – Providing equal access to high-quality technology-enhanced translation/interpreting services (including remote services and educational workshops)
  • RAISE – A collection center for used clothing/textiles to be sorted, recycled, and repurposed for donation or sale
  • Training TNT for Trainers - Supporting young people developing social skills oriented towards communication, self-mastery, and emotional intelligence to become trainers later.
  • MathLife - A web platform to show real-world applications of mathematics
  • CS Life – A recycling and refurbishing business focused on used printer cartridges.

Leonardo-Geo Mănescu, CRAF manager and EDUCOL president: "This fifth entrepreneurship competition recorded a record number of applications, with over 22 submitted. Congratulations to all students for the originality and creativity of their project proposals. We will continue to support students to implement their ideas and serve the community by connecting their knowledge and vision to action."

Cezar Spînu, Rector of the University of Craiova, added: "I have always admired the energy of our students and their commitment to lead change in the community and build a better future here. The University of Craiova offers them constant support and trust. I congratulate them for choosing to become social entrepreneurs and agents of innovation, and I wish them success in implementing their projects."

The eight new projects join the twenty projects currently under development at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center that have received grants in previous years: Basecamp – an outdoor fitness camp that offers alternative forms of exercise group; SmartEd - development of an innovative online educational platform; Sedo (Services and Donations) – connecting people who need certain knowledge or services with those who have the ability and experience to provide them; Creastation – a programming center for children and young people eager to understand and learn programming and 3D printing skills; EVClub– offers electric vehicles building kits for developing technical and mechanical knowledge: Clay Studio - an artistic clay processing center where participants can discover, build and develop their artistic skills; EBiS Club - mobility hub and platform for renting electric scooters ; EduMix 100 - consulting services related to blended learning, digital literacy and digital content creation ; Furnix - center for refurbishment and customization of furniture elements and wood carving courses for children; Germiplants - greenhouses for the cultivation, production and processing of aromatic and medicinal plants;Good Will - Art therapy center (dance, music, theater, painting workshops), which aims to develop the creativity of children and teenagers, facilitating social inclusion; AgeleSS - Refurbishing old shoes to provide affordable footwear; ASKS - encouraging more young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; GRENA - establishing greenhouses to help increase crop yields, developing new varieties of plants, adaptable to changing climatic conditions, supporting small farmers; H4H - onerehabilitation center covering several medical fields (physical therapy, speech therapy, psychosocial education); NAO - new innovative software program for NAO robots that will ensure interactive engagement with autistic children during therapy sessions; MarCo - marketing and communications enterprise supporting community-oriented NGOs; EcOil-Cuv - collection of used oil for recycling and its transformation into organic soap; GoBike Craiova - bicycle rental centers, at an affordable price, to stimulate mobility and a healthy lifestyle; The Center of Learning Assistance for School and Society- afterschool program aimed at integrating children from disadvantaged backgrounds, which offers foreign language courses.

"This is my second year in a judging role, and I was incredibly impressed by the student teams' detailed project proposals and business plans. I was also pleased to see students from different faculties participating in this year's competition and some female team leaders. It is lovely to see the passion and commitment of young people to help their community and each other. Thank you and best wishes to all the candidates." said Josephine Payne, President of Ford Otosan Craiova.

Lia Olguța Vasilescu, Mayor of Craiova: "We are open, as always, to the ideas of the students of the University of Craiova, and we want to implement them. We are already looking forward to setting up Basecamp, which we would never have thought of if it wasn't for this project. At the same time, we remain the same strategic partner of the University of Craiova and the Ford Fund."

Ford Motor Company Fund activities in Romania included health care initiatives, including a cardiovascular disease screening service, food drives, and defensive driving programs for drivers.

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Florin Muna

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Florin Muna
Joined: June 13th, 2019
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