He is involved in volunteering since was 14 years old, is part of the World Scout Organization and coordinates the launching of social entrepreneurship projects. Meet the program coordinator of the East European Foundation, Alexandru Coica. He is the one for whom the emotions of people who see their relatives accepted by society and involved in labor market is far more valuable than income social startups.
What was the latest activity, which you participated in as a volunteer?
About the age of 14 years old volunteering has become part of my life. Since then I almost always dedicate a part of my time to different activities of noncommercial social nature. Now I am a member of the External Relations Group of the World Scout (www.scout.org) where I help my colleagues in organizing and promoting activities at European level. These activities have a huge impact across Europe, helping to develop nearly 1 million young people.
What is the most important project you've done this year within the organization you represent?
A program that I especially like is specifically related to the promotion of social entrepreneurship activities. Thus, for more than a year and a half I am coordinating this area within the EEF. Being in the middle of implementing the program, I can proudly state already many results - 10 social businesses supported (including Transnistria), over 120 organizations and active citizens trained and encouraged to establish social businesses, local elected officials motivated to support and cooperate with the existing social entrepreneurs in their localities etc. Another important achievement is that we managed to bring this subject on the public agenda. If this phrase a few years ago did not say anything to Moldovans, now people are increasingly talking about the positive impact of social entrepreneurship and changes to be made by encouraging its development.
What are the actions undertaken by the Moldovan NGOs which have enjoyed the local public support?
This year I was impressed by the National Youth Council. On 12 August, during the International Youth Day its team has been able to mobilize many youth organizations and active youth communities in order to celebrate this day by organizing a true pedestrian street in Chisinau. It was a beautiful action but also a eventful day useful for the youth sector.
Do you consider that last year's political events are affecting the civil society involvement within the community development actions?
The political and the socioeconomic situation are regrettable. But from what I see this motivates the civil society more to diversify its activities, increase the number of beneficiaries and promote the principles of sustainable development and good governance especially at the community level. Moreover, it is in such times that civil society should assume also an educational role through community development activities aiming to help citizens to apply their critical thinking skills and to avoid being manipulated by various techniques intensively exploited in the last time.
In the last time we have witnessed an increasing involvement of women in decision-making process, an environment until recently only available to men. What are the next steps towards achieving maximum efficiency of gender- based equality?
I think it is a complex issue that we can debate a whole day. However, in my view, if we were to prioritize, I would mention the following ones:
- to fix a minimum quota representation for women and men in Parliament and Government;
- to prevent and combating violence against women;
- to introduce the paternity leave paid from public funds;
- to stimulate women’s involvement in entrepreneurship activities;
What European country could serve as an example to follow for Moldova concerning gender- based equal opportunities?
There would be more likely few of them here. I'm sure we all know how well developed the social system in Sweden is, thus, a good example for Moldova. But countries with a more similar culture to ours, such as Portugal, Spain or Greece are also successful examples of rapid improvement in women's representation in politics.
Which are those three social entrepreneurship projects from Moldova that can inspire you?
Given the fact that the social entrepreneurship is one of the professional activities I carry out for some time, it is quite difficult for me to limit on giving only three examples. Each of the 10 social enterprises that EEF is supporting can teach us something. It was a special satisfaction to see how the life of people with visual disabilities who were employed at the massage center in Balti San-Tao has changed for better. Those emotions you have when the beneficiaries relatives are approaching you to thank you for their children and brothers which were included within the society and feel now useful by having a normal life and being no longer isolated in the house are just indescribable. I got truly inspired seeing how much perseverance and stubbornness demonstrate some people in order to fulfill their plans. I am referring here to the ADR Habitat laundry and to all of the obstacles the "Dacia" Resource Centre is trying to face aiming to extend their social business. I think I could give some other examples of inspiration from several social businesses and people behind them: the canteen "Aburaş" in Oxentea village, the saline to be launched by the organization "OSORŢ" in Tiraspol, the young people with mental disabilities manufacturing handmade purses from recycled materials and Keystone Moldova who supports their commercialization, the social enterprise "Floare de Cires" managed by the association "Eco-Răzeni" and so on. This area is basically an endless source of inspiration and motivation.
Do you think that rural area is favorable to social entrepreneurship in Moldova? Please give reasoning to your answer.
There are a lot of things to be told here. I must admit that at the beginning of the implementation of our program supporting social entrepreneurship we were aware of the difficulties expecting us, but even so, looking back now, I realize that in many respects we were too optimistic.
It is difficult to say unequivocally whether the rural areas are favorable to the development of social entrepreneurship or not. On the one hand we have a very active community, willing to develop social enterprises, which accentuated the need for social businesses at the local level, and on the other hand, however, there is a reluctance from the public administration both local and central. I think a good example of this would be the laundry soon launched by ADR "Habitat" Rezina. Because of too many bureaucratic impediments and the lack of support from the government the process of launching has been dragging on for months already and gathered additional costs of 100,000 MDL. At the same time, I think a meaningful example is the Youth Resource Centre "Dacia" which until today is negotiating with the administration of Soroca city concerning the ground of the center they can use in order to build up greenhouses for growing vegetables.
To conclude I would say that social entrepreneurship is a very necessary form of business in Moldova and with the right support from the government could experience a sustainable development and contribute social and economic challenges solving process.
We would like you to comment on Civic Fest annual event usefulness for Moldovan NGOs and civil society.
I have to admit that learning about the first edition of the event I was among the skeptics concerning the added value such an event could bring and the resources efficiency in this respect. Now, in the eve of the third edition, I am glad to see how Civic Fest becomes a traditional activity promoting best practices in civil society area, but also a useful platform for networking between social actors to ensure their initiatives’ synergy.
What are you expectations from the future editions of Civic Fest?
I would like to see promoted as many success stories as possible from rural areas as well as from the community level and also more opportunities for informal interactions between the government representatives and social actors. The initiative to leave the capital and to have a day of Civic Fest in a rural area it seems to me very inspired. I would like this to become a tradition and each year a Moldovan village to host the event.