As a white, working class woman from the UK, I’ve had it pretty easy. I’ve always had a roof over my head, food on the table and money in the bank. It’s never been difficult for me to have access to a good education or job. However, not all women are as lucky as I am. Some people simply don’t have the opportunities that I have had and just because of the colour of their skin or the place they were born, life is automatically ten times more difficult for them than it ever has been for me.
I came across Sa-Pune on Instagram. With a pretty feed full of handmade candles, jewellery and bath products, it at first seems like just another cutesy online store. However, after a bit of digging, I discovered that Sa-Pune is actually a social enterprise designed to help women and children from marginalised communities in the Republic of Kosovo. Intrigued to find out more, I sent a message to their project coordinator, Altina to ask if she’d be willing to let me interview her for my blog.
Luckily, she agreed, and so here it is!
Introducing Sa-Pune, a social enterprise in the Republic of Kosovo!
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and Sa-Pune?
Sa-Pune was registered in 2012 as a social enterprise through cooperation with a local NGO, The Ideas Partnership. Sa-Pune includes and works with women from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, as well as with the women of the Albanian community in Fushe Kosovë and Janjevë.
We have two targets in our project: first is the employment of eight women from two groups in Janjevë and Fushe Kosovë and secondly, women who work with us have a condition to send their children to school. So we employ the women (with their handmade products that we sell at different events) and educate their children. The products we offer are tote bags, filigree postcards, purses and lavender bags, while our newest products are filigree candles and bookmarks with filigree.
About myself, I’m the coordinator of the Sa-Pune project, I’m 20 years old and I’m a student of Law in the University of Pristina. I’m also a student at the ‘Universum’ college where I study Business and Management. I love my job so much because I like to work for myself and help people too.
What does your job as a project coordinator involve?
I manage the delivery here, finance of Sa-Pune, marketing and the women’s groups too. I work for the strategy of Sa-Pune and help to make new markets in Kosovo and other places too. I also create new contacts between our social enterprise and other groups, as well as having the final review on all products.
What kind of challenges do people from disadvantaged groups face in Kosovo?
Marginalised groups in Kosovo (like the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities but also the Albanian women in remote places in Kosovo) have many challenges to be educated to get a job and so consequently they cannot feel equal. Children of different ages go out onto the street to clean the windows of cars, and also beg and go through the rubbish for a better economic condition. This is what Hateme’s (one of our women) children used to do before she joined the project. When we ask the children why they do not go to school, they say that they need to work for their family because their parents don’t work. This is why we decided to have two targets for women’s employment and children’s education.
What has been your proudest moment since working with Sa-Pune?
Well, I’m new here. I have worked for Sa-Pune for just five months, but in those five months, I was so proud when one of the children of one of the women that work with us told me that she is in the sixth grade now and she grew up with Sa-Pune and her mom’s products. So it was a very special moment when I heard this, and when I see the other children at school.
What does the future hold for Sa-Pune?
The future for Sa-Pune needs a lot of work, and we’re doing our best with it. We are looking forward to taking in and marketing new products from the women and to sell more and more of them. We are looking to have new training for women to make them ready for the job and for other jobs in Kosovo, and we are looking forward to having our third Sa-Pune group in Fushe Kosovë with new women and new children that need education.
If somebody from overseas wants to buy products from Sa-Pune, is this possible?
Absolutely, yes. If somebody wants something from us, they can order it from any place, but they have to pay the delivery costs. However, if it is a big order then we pay the delivery costs. You just need to send us an email saying ‘I want this and that,’ and that’s it. We need marketing in other states as well!
If somebody wants to help, how can they get involved?
If somebody wants to help us, they can do it in a lot of ways. From sharing our Facebook and Instagram posts, to donating material that we can recycle, to taking our products to new events and new markets in Kosovo and in the world too! They can visit the women and train them in all things, from communication with clients etc., and of course they can buy our products.