Give a good example of your entrepreneurship
I am an agriculturist with the main object of organic farming. About three years ago, I start to organize an educational project for organic cultivation of vegetables for adults with intellectual disabilities “The Garden of Lysou”. My contact with these people, which until then was non-existent, inspired me and since they are not working while they can and want and need, it has led me to the creation of the Commonwealth of Inclusion of Vulnerable Groups “Epicurean Apollo”. With this legal form and with our existing dynamics we organize a professional handicraft workshop with one of our founding members, we want to develop a roof for stray dogs, as an agronomist with partners I seek to create compost from olive and greenhouse residues of the municipality, to export standardized olive oil and to take care of gardening. You require a therapeutic, supportive department to enable people with disabilities to adapt to their working environment and for this reason a founding member is skilled.
How old were you when you started as entrepreneur?
My idea came about two years ago at 49, except that I have a little time left, it took me a long time to come to the specific founding members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which I think is our basic starting point.
What support did you have when you became an entrepreneur?
The mayor of Kalamata initially showed how he would support us by giving us space, it made me feel that I had support and that’s why I started. I know now that he will not help but have made some steps and will continue without his help.
What problem are you trying to solve and why?
We are trying to create jobs for people with disabilities
What is your target group? Level of impact (concentrated to the specific group, local, regional, wider…)
We mainly address people with intellectual disabilities living in the prefecture of Messinia.
Is social enterprise the best way they can help?
Since the public services and the system in Greece is miserably deprived and the same time the private sector translates time (our life) into money and considers such an employee to be detrimental (ignorant), only the social initiative remains to fill the gap that exists. One in six is a person with a disability, mental, physical or psychiatric. The problem is social and is really big.
Why this industry/area/topic, and why now?
These people have inspired me, I love children (people with mental retardation syndrome down, autism is like children), nature and gardening without chemicals and toxic. There is a need to work and have the same needs as we do. Kalamata, as the capital of the prefecture and location, serves our actions. The time follows the flow of events as they evolve and only in the summer of 2018 I felt that we were the right people. They are teamwork but unfortunately they do not have a lot of team spirit.
KEY CHALLENGES AND SUCCESS FACTORS
What drives your motivation?
People with intellectual disabilities I met at gardening school and their families.
Does your job make you compromise with something or make sacrifices?
The paradox is that as long as you work for these people you are so benefiting and fatigue is somehow transformed into joy.
What does it take to be successful?
We have to love what we do, to believe and insist even if no one agrees with us. We have to keep are eyes and mind always open in order to learn more and more. Sharing is the necessary step for someone to evolve.
What are the benefits, both personal and social?
Personally, I feel more helpful, I am happier and I find myself becoming a better person. The social benefit of integrating people with disabilities into society through their professional activity is multiple. It concerns the disabled people themselves as well as their families and the whole society as we embrace a repulsed child. We all need to deal with the problems and the challenges in a personal and social level and this is a lesson for all.
SKILLS AND COMPETENCES
The most relevant skills and competence to perform your initiative/business successfully
Love to children and nature, I have 22-23 years of experience in organic farming and the farming sector in general.
Natural cultivation of Foucaoka Masanbom and with the methodology of reforestation of deserted areas.
Quality Manager at “Maleme” Chania
Rising western Attica, Edessa, Vegoritida
Organic Farming Certification Auditor (DIO)
Designer of the educational program developed by the Amkeion “The Garden of Lysous”