Miroslava Stojanovic, CooperaDiva
Southeast Serbia is home to Niš, the third largest city in Serbia, yet one in an economic crisis. Its industrial production has declined by 52% in recent years and almost 2,000 companies have closed. According to the National Statistics Bureau, there are twice as many self-employed men than women, women have 17.5% lower earnings then men for the same job and almost one in five employed women works illegally. Miroslava Stojanovic and her co-leader Hristina Piskulidis recognizes these disparities and are implementing the CooperaDiva project to help bring change. The project will have a special focus on vulnerable women; members of the community whom society gives limited opportunities for economic independence and a dignified life in general.
CooperaDiva will directly work with fifteen women while indirectly serving another one hundred through community support and a wide market. The project will provide support to women that are starting off their business ventures through entrepreneurial education, mentoring programs and showroom space. The showroom space serves as a significant relief on the women entrepreneurs, offering free rent, running costs and furniture. The missing piece is the computers, which will be purchased with the seed grant funds. As women succeed in achieving economic independence through CooperaDiva, they will take on the role of mentors and support new project participants.
Miroslava recognizes that each individual has the potential to be a partner in a joint process working towards socioeconomic and social development. Furthermore, she sees that as each citizen becomes invested, they become a catalyst, a holder and a change maker that reinvests in the community.
GRANT AWARD DATE: November 17, 2015