Ford is inaugurating today its first Resource and Commitment Center in Europe, in Craiova. Designed to support the creation of new locations to improve the economic potential and living standards of the inhabitants of the Oltenia region, the Center is the subject of a USD 1 million total investment over four years by Ford Motor Company Fund in collaboration with its international partner, GlobalGiving.

The new center is also the result of a collaboration with the SV Education Association Oltenia (EDUCOL), a local nonprofit organization that seeks to maximize opportunities of entrepreneurial training and development for young people, and with the City Hall of Craiova, which provided the building for the center.

Ford Motor Company Fund and its international partner GlobalGiving have contributed an additional USD 100,000 funding for the renovation of this building.

”We are happy to be able to work with EDUCOL and the City Hall to expand into Craiova the Resource and Commitment Centers project,” said Jim Vella, the president of Ford Motor Company Fund. 

CRAF Craiova will allow students and fresh graduates of the University of Craiova to build innovative and sustainable social programs to encourage the progress and the economy of the community. For this purpose, the Ford Fund and EDUCOL have launched a competition where students were inspired to design projects that addressed the needs of the community.

”Our young people will benefit from both Romanian-American financial support and counseling mentoring in a professional environment, so they will be able to follow their American dream even at home in Oltenia, reaching their personal goals and helping to develop the community. Our goal is to encourage innovative ideas and provide opportunities,” said Leonardo-Geo Mănescu, EDUCOL president.

During the competition, EDUCOL offered counseling and guidance to help students develop their proposals before forwarding them for analysis to Ford Romania, the Ford Fund, the Craiova City Hall and the Federation of Students of the University of Craiova.

Once they adapted their projects to respond to the feedback, the teams submitted their final proposals. Further, they will improve their ideas within workshops in the Human Design Thinking series by the Henry Ford Learning Institute.

This non-governmental organization in Michigan (United States) uses Design Thinking methodology, along with other methods designed to help academic partners and business to assimilate information creatively and thus solve a wide range of problems.

The winning projects from CRAF Craiova, which will receive up to USD 50,000 to be developed, are:

  • EcOil-Cuv – which involves exploring the collection of waste oil to be recycled and transformed into organic soap, in order to reduce its negative impact on the environment.
  • GoBike Craiova, a project consisting of setting up bicycle closures at an accessible price, to stimulate mobility and a healthy lifestyle.
  • School and Social Assistance and Support Center, an afterschool program designed to integrate children from disadvantaged backgrounds, based on a range of language courses.

”The main characteristic of these winning projects is that they are all sustainable. Students receive support from the Ford Fund in the first year, and their entrepreneurial idea must then survive independently. The goal is to encourage the new generation to think unconventionally and innovate, and Ford’s first Resource and Engagement Center in Europe will help them achieve this goal,” said Ian Pearson, president of Ford Romania and the Craiova Factory Director.

CRAF completes the two similar projects that already exist in Detroit, USA and the one in South Africa, also inaugurated in 2018. Future plans aim at expanding into Asia by opening a Center in Bangkok (Thailand) in early 2019. 

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