Association for Development of New Options – Arno
Association for Development of New Options or ARNO is hybrid organization (Civil Society Organization with economic activities) which aims to create change via innovation and thinking outside of the box in a response to the challenges our society is facing. Their main focus of their activities is social innovation, social entrepreneurship and sustainable development.
“We are an organization that wants to do real transformation of the communities in our society while using approaches which are not traditionally used in our society. For example, currently we are running a project which main output is designing a food map of Skopje but in the background of this social entrepreneurship activity (sales of food tours) our commitment is to work on intercultural connections among young people by using gastronomy as a tool for opening debates.” – is how Irina Janevska form ARNO explains in a nut shell the project “This is my Balkan – Culinary Tours and Cool souvenirs for promotion of Intercultural Learning and Dialogue“ and ARNO’s vision and mission.
The name of their organization literary means something that is genuinely good. And not only that they do good stuff but they do very cool stuff, like using food and gastronomy as a tool for creating change. Inspired by the job demand of chefs vs.the poor reputation of the gastronomy students in our society with their project COOLINARI they put all their efforts into encouraging youngsters to become the next Jaime Oliver and pursue a career as chefs. Also they used digital tools and platforms and organized cooking events and workshops to bring this closer to the general public in order to change the perception for vocational education and make it more inspirational for youngsters. The project is the first in the country to promote social entrepreneurship to inventively reduce youth unemployment.
Philanthropy for Green Ideas (PGI) is another regional project ARNO is part of with the objective to stimulate and encourage innovation for green business ideas at the local level while utilizing local resources and revitalize disappearing traditional production chains and community-based markets.
By organizing an annual competition they stimulate individuals, civil society organizations, social businesses or small private companies to come up with ideas that will have positive social, economic and environmental impact.
Through this competition a lot of individuals and groups of people have been able to express their creativity and show that it can thrive and be put into good use in many different areas. This is visible by only looking at the list of ideas participating in the competition and the winners list. Just few of the regional winners are: “SPIN” a startup for upcycling of furniture, “Eco Illusions” – a magician that uses edutainment, “Food for Everyone” which is a platform for sales of last minute food, “Challenger” – a mobile app that encourages people to collect green steps and receive awards and many more.
The list of contributions and the social challenges they aspire to solve doesn’t end here and ARNO is initiator or part of many other initiatives which in their focus also have refugees, gender equality and youth empowerment.