Younited Cultures

Younited Cultures was founded by Andra Slaats and Iulia Mugescu. Andra is a Romanian immigrant who moved to Vienna. She encountered lots of struggles moving here and with Younited Cultures they want to shine a positive light on immigrants and show that they have value. They are doing this by selling colorful scarfs with a message. Each scarf tells a succes story of an immigrant.

In Austria there is a big debat going on at the moment about the new minister of the country. With the elections recently two candidates where facing each other, one extreme right wing and one left wing. Migration (the refugee crisis) is also a topic of discussion in the election program so it’s clear that there is still a lot of work to do.
Andra believes that immigrants have a positive impact on the society and economy, it brings in a lot of youth and human capital. The scarfs can contribute to better understanding of the migrants and hopefully to a good end of the debate going on in Austria.

 

Shades Tours

Shades Tours

Shades Tours is a social tourism business, founded by Perrine Schober. They organize tourism activities in Vienna guided and moderated by homeless people. The organization works closely with different social institutions. The tours are guided through these institutions so you get a better idea of how homeless people life. For example you’ll learn how a homeless shelter works, see how the food distribution works, get information from a streetworking organization about various  topics in homelessness such as prostitution and alcohol & drug abuse. The guide is the link between all those aspects and tells how he experiences his time as a homeless and how it works in Vienna and the reasons for homelessness in the city.

The tour guides and are given the opportunity to earn an income and a work experience as a first step towards their reintegration into the local labour market. In the beginning Shades Tours was actively looking for guides but now the homeless find the organization too. Proving that the concept is working.

Magdas Hotel

Magdas Hotel

When you will stay at the Magdas Hotel as a guest, you won’t notice quickly that there is something special going on here. From the outside it looks like any other hotel and the rooms, although they are nicely decorated, don’t stand out of the normal picture. It’s the social aspect that is unique in this business.

The Hotel was founded by Caritas (known as Cordaid in some countries), a social NGO. They founded the Magdas three years ago. Their goalswas not to maximize profit but to maximize openess and humanity. All the employees are refugees who come from 14 different nations, all with different backgrounds. The Magdas develops these people and giving them job opportunities. They get long-term contracts and many possibilities to develop themselves and get certificates. They are free to leave whenever they want and take the certificates with them so they can start working in another place.

Sustainability has an huge social aspect and this is a great example of it. The Magdas also took care about the other parts of sustainability. In the beginning they had 1.5 million euro to open the hotel, which is almost nothing in this industry. Normally a hotel can spend 10.000 euro to rebuild a room, Magdas had €1.500 and they needed to think of creative ways to make it comfortable. Together with an up-cycling artist they made a plan. As the location used to be an home for the elderly, there was already furniture. The artist took everything out of the room and made new chairs, tables and closets from it. Other furniture was gathered with an crowdsourcing campaign. This makes every single room unique.

The slogan of the Magdas is “An hotel like no other” and this is very true. If you could chose, wouldn’t you pick this hotel over any other, standard hotel? If ever in Vienna, be sure to visit this hotel. They deserve your business so much more than any regular standard hotel.

I interviewed Sarah Barci, marketing manager of the hotel. She talks about how it all started, the problems they had to start it and their future goals.

GEEF Cafe

GEEF Cafe (literally translation: GIVE Cafe) is a restaurant/ lunchroom where you can pay-as-you-can. People with more money to spend can give a meal, coffee or tea to someone who has less.

The restaurant was founded by Judith Manshanden who’s been working on this concept for several years. It was hard to find the right people to believe in the concept and after having several tries she finally managed to get het own location right in the Jordaan, the cosiest neighborhood in Amsterdam.

Watch the interview to hear how she managed to start the restaurant, what she thinks about the term ‘sustainability’ and she gave me an interesting tast to take on with me during the journey.

 

Seepje

Seepje is 100% natural and fair trade detergent from Nepal. They use the Sapindus mukorossi-fruit super peel which gives a natural form of soap in contact with water.

Seepje’s missions is to make the world cleaner and more beautiful! Seepje is a social enterprise. When you wash your clothes with Seepje they take of the conservation of nature in Nepal. They also there improve the working and living conditions. The company works together with Siza, a organization which provides work to people with mental and/or physical disabilities. The people who work there, called the “waskanjers” or “washing heroes” have an important role in the production of Seepje.

I interviewed Jasper, one of the co-founders about how the idea for Seepje was born, what they are doing and asked him about his vision on sustainability.

Visit their website: www.seepje.nl 

NOTE: The audio in this video is not perfect. I’m still learning every day and this won’t happen again.]