Latvia: transforming handicrafts from hobby to source of income

LATVIA – Latgale, the easternmost region of Latvia, is known for its rich cultural heritage and the vibrancy of crafts tradition. Trades such as pottery, woodworking, stone-cutting, knitting, and weaving continue to flourish here alongside the new forms of craftsmanship, like glass decor, porcelain, production of cosmetic products, demonstrating the evolution of traditions in response to contemporary influences and market demands. The region, sharing borders with Russia and Belarus, has developed these trades through generations, making it an integral part of its cultural identity. Crafts in Latgale are not only a way of preserving traditional customs but also a means of fostering community engagement and socio-economic activity, contributing significantly to local development.

What to do with all that waste? From grapes to beauty products

TUNISIA – Grapes, the jewels of the vineyards, yield at global level approximately 74 million tons of wine each year. Yet, alongside the production of wine comes a significant by-product: pomace — a mix of peels, seeds, and stems. Typically, this pomace meets one of two fates: animal feed or open-air fertilizer at best. However, recent research reveals a hidden treasure trove within this waste. Bursting with bioactive substances like antioxidants, pomace possesses benefits ranging from anti-aging to anti-cancer properties. The ENI CBC BESTMEDGRAPE project, spanning the Mediterranean from north to south, capitalizes on this untapped resource, blending knowledge, tradition, and innovation to empower both the grape sector and creative entrepreneurs.

The good legacy of a nightmare

SUCEAVA – Transport from the border, accommodation and hot meals, translation and counselling services, hauling and distribution of donations, even a solidarity shop: when it comes to the Ukrainian refugees, the Ștefan cel Mare University of Suceava (Romania) has been involved in the crisis from all sides, with all its authority, through all its human resources from the very beginning.  And its links with Ukrainian academia are growing deeper. This public institution – established in 1963 in Suceava, just 50 km away from the Ukrainian border – was among the first to rush into action, and it has quickly become a humanitarian hub for the neighbouring population on the run, even serving as a focal point for UN agencies and non-governmental organisations. Around 500 between students and professors have been offering their time and efforts to mitigate the impact of the conflict on the civilians, and to sustain their colleagues across the border. It was time for the tolerant and participatory atmosphere established in the campus throughout the years to pay off.

A place to offer kids a new beginning

SUCEAVA – Back to the future. As other projects overturned by the war, also SMART4YOUTH has resumed normal activities, and on 21-23 September a “film festival” will feature the videos produced by Romanian and Ukrainian youngsters after attending project’s workshops. At the same time, partners don’t let go of the refugees, and keep running the “mothers support group”, whilst their kids are busy with languages and arts at the “clever children” centre: altogether, about 300 people are still benefitting from this support in the region. It is definitely a busy time for the cooperation between Romania and Ukraine, whose reality is heartedly described by Vasile Gafiuc, manager of  SMART4YOUTH and president of the Association of Community Development Consultants (ACDC).

Back to project activities while caring for refugees

Refugees on one side, ordinary activities on the other: the new normality of cross border cooperation – in countries closely linked to the conflict area – has shifted to double gear. As the crisis continues, the emergency is now “embedded” into daily routine, while efforts to keep going with previously planned activities, start yielding fruits.

Smart grid technology driving renewable energies

“At the beginning, it was a research project but now it has become a large-scale project with  interconnection between universities, researchers and economic actors. In the ENI CBC programmes one  is never alone: this is the main added value of this programme.”

Dario Di Cara, Research Scientist in the Institute of Marine Engineering CNR-INM Palermo (Italy)

Financing young people out of the shadow-economy

“Start-ups and new businesses begin with so much hope, excitement and promise, but the search for c capital is often challenging and stressful, whether you’re starting a business from scratches, or you are trying to find resources to push your start-up forward.”

Hijazi Natsheh, Leaders Organization (Palestine)

Hand-baking to enjoy the traditional craft

“Our task is to create reasons to visit the Carpathian region. We do not just want to preserve elements of national culture, we want to package them nicely and present them as a tourist product, which can be sold by tourist operators.”

Lada Malanii, lead beneficiary marketing manager (Ukraine)

The local boost to farming products

“This crisis has proved to us the importance of having short supply chains, especially in the food sector. Whatever happens in the world, people will always need food, even more when international supply chains are interrupted. Countries should be prepared to provide their citizens with local food products.”

Silja Lehtpuu, project manager at the Union of Setomaa (Estonia)

Young entrepreneurs, time to cross borders

“A CBC programme is the ideal framework for this project as it aims to offer youngsters and start-ups the opportunity to develop a cross-border business, and to open for themselves new opportunities beyond their country borders.”

Arttu-Pekka Johannes Tavia, Oulu University of Applied Sciences (Finland)

Management skills are essential even for a family restaurant

“Tourism is not just about history, gloss and glamour: it is a service that companies provide. Many small enterprises  manage their business not based on knowledge, but at the call of their hearts, which does not always have a positive impact on the quality of services provided by tourism companies.”

George Stampoulis, Head of the consortium of project implementers (Greece)

Weaving eco-threads across the Mediterranean

“Entrepreneurs will be able to put into practice the concept of circular economy in a textile and clothing sector in need of new sustainable business models. STAND Up! knots together the shores of the Mediterranean, connecting knowledge, innovation, traditions and habits.”

Anna Ibañez de Arolas, Project Manager – STAND Up! Coordinator (Spain)

What about an asparagus hand cream?

Roses, oregano, asparagus and capers…these are indigenous species in the Sicilian and Tunisian territories, they grow naturally in marginal lands, they do not require chemical inputs and do not demand much water. In addition, they have lots of nutritional and medicinal properties. Why then not grow them more profitably and sustainably? What if we transformed them and created other products? Creams, essential oils, perfumes… This is exactly what the ESPAS project is pursuing. Funded by the Italy-Tunisia ENI CBC programme, this partnership wants to revalorise autochthonous species in Sicily and Tunisia, to diversify their uses and to provide farmers and enterprises with more business opportunities. But how? Keep reading!