Social Startup Open Resources Aims To Solve Immigration Challenge In Italy

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A group of dreamers working to create something that matters: this is Open Resources.

Open Resources, a new and promising Italian social startup, aims to do something about a very critical problem in Italy: immigration. How? Through the involvement of refugees in a process of renovation and restructuration of vacancy houses.

From the 1st of January to the middle of July of this year, more than 93.000 of refugees have come ashore (data from the Ministry of Interior) in Italy. This is 16,6% more in comparison with the same period of the last year. The Italian Regions are dealing with this major issue, that is creating not only political disagreement but also the disgruntlement of a part of the population, that feels scared about this phenomenon.

Foreigners that enter Italy illegally are accommodated in specific immigration centers. There, they receive assistance and are identified, then, if they are requesting political asylum, they will receive international protection and start the procedure to verify the requisites; differently, they will be repatriated. In particular, the 8% of these refugees are accommodated in the Veneto Region in different kind of structures.

This phenomenon has become no more manageable through the existing procedures and infrastructures in Italy and is consolidating the idea that it is necessary to develop new strategies and solutions in order to face these criticalities.

From The Problem To The Solution

Often, media underlines that refugees are considered mainly as something problematic or onerous, and it is difficult to think about them as an opportunity or as a resource. The founders of the startup “Open Resource” commenced exactly from this thought: what should we do in order to reverse this dynamic?

The project began from the work of Marta and Jacopo Cassano and Said Chaibi, a group of friends that decided to do something especially for their city, Treviso, in the north east of Italy. Starting only from some simple idea they decided to jump on this new adventure, and thanks to the accelerator program of the Urban Innovation Bootcamp of Ca’ Foscari University and a collaboration with “La Esse” they developed the entire project from scratch.

A few weeks ago I had the possibility to talk with the three founders, who gave me their point of view about their work and the topic of immigration in Italy.

Said Chaibi mentioned that the process of dealing with immigration in Italy is extremely problematic, adding that “the hosting management process is a critical issue itself, but what can refugees do even if they receive the status of a political refugee? We are missing a general and comprehensive vision about the phenomenon”. Co-founder Marta Cassano explains Open Resource’s approach to the situation: “Our project is an initiative of social innovation. We address landlords of vacancy houses that need restructuration. We offer the owners the possibility to participate in the project, for a defined amount of time. They will end up with a completely restructured house while one or more immigrants will have the possibility to pay rent through the work, possibly even collecting an income”.

Germination Of Resources

The project foresees an adequate training for the participants, and the possibility to extent the involvement of young, unemployed Italians.

Through every intervention project, the migrants participating will have the possibility to be involved in the local community (to know people and develop a new network) but also to establish new competences and knowledge to be autonomous and find a job at the end of the process.

“In Treviso there are around 6000 empty and vacant buildings, and the damage is not only economic but also social. If a house or another kind of building remains empty for too long it loses its value, moreover, if in the same area there are many of these unoccupied spaces, we also face the risk of social degradation”, says Said Chaibi.

Will Open Resources Be Successful?

Co-founder Jacopo Cassano seems to be positive: “We know that the project is really ambitious and that we will be not able to extend it to all of the refugees that are hosted in the Treviso area in the beginning. However, we think that is more important to take a new approach to manage this situation, especially to sensitize people about the features of this phenomenon. We want people to stop thinking about refugees as something negative and dangerous for the Italian society. The effort to develop new solutions and practices to better run the refugees’ fluxes in Italy is an imperative that requires a profound cultural change”.

Now, Open Resources is becoming an association of social promotion while building their crowdfunding campaign. In the meantime, they are providing several courses and activities to groups of refugees in the Treviso area, that allow contact and the exchange with the residents of the city. The startup has important stakeholders and partners such as “Human Fundation”, “Clinica Urbana” and “Ca’ Foscari University”.

On their Facebook page (and soon on their website) you can find all of the information about Open Resource’s activities as well as the contact for extra info or for crowdfunding opportunities.



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