‘Joining InnoBAdora+ gave us structure’

Interview about the InnoBAdora+, the Barcelona Activa's Incubation Community for socio-economic initiatives from the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE)

16/06/2023 - 10:06 h - Enterprise Ajuntament de Barcelona

We interview Lores López, Coordinator, and Anna Pérez, Project Manager, from the project Dones Mentores, the innovative social mentoring programme with a gender perspective formerly incubated at InnoBAdora+.

What is Dones Mentores?

Lores López (LL): Dones Mentores is a mentoring initiative with a gender perspective. Our work is based on tackling gender-based violence, and we apply mentoring to the process of coming out of a situation of gender-based violence and the social rehabilitation process.

How was your time at InnoBAdora+, the Barcelona Activa’s Incubation Community for socio-economic initiatives from the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE)?

LL: Dones Mentores was an individual project. It was fairly isolated. One of the incubated cooperatives told me that the mission, vision and values of Dones Mentores fitted in with the ethos of InnoBAdora+ and encouraged me to present the initiative. We joined in the midst of the pandemic. It was very difficult at first to create synergies with other entities and to get to know them because when we joined, everything was pretty much virtual. Having said that, it was a fundamental and positive experience for the project.

Anna Pérez (AP): Then I came in at the end of 2021. I took on more of the interaction with the space, creating synergies with other spaces, with other incubated initiatives, with the coordination space, and I channelled all the support we got from there.

What services from this incubator attracted you to it?

LL: In terms of services, the space. It was really close by; it was light and bright. We had access to private rooms for interviewing mentors and for training sessions. Also, at first, I got a lot of support from them, and this particularly helped me with the design and traceability of the project. I was doing a lot, but I’ve always tended to work in a more instinctive, rather unorganised way. Joining InnoBAdora+ gave me structure.

And later, something that is perhaps difficult to understand, but which I had been told lots of times, that it seemed to be a very innovative project. Being in this incubation community helped to consolidate an idea that I hadn’t been able to believe in. It was like a mirror.

AP: We’ve also had support dealing with any doubts we’ve had and getting the information we needed. We had Facto Cooperativa as a manager, always ready to answer any queries or questions we had. And also, they found us before we left the incubator, in just under a month, this space where we’re currently incubated (Lidera, from Barcelona Activa).

So, even after you left, you were still involved in it in some way?

AP: Yes, we still have a relationship with them. InnoBAdora+ really promotes what is known as the Extended Community: that the companies, organisations and entities carry on these links, that they continue to carry out joint actions.

LL: We came along, we had a need, and they incubated us. And they propose maintaining this link which I think is a good idea. This is one of the things that you get with the social and solidarity economy: a different way of operating, a different way of looking at society.

What other services and activities stood out for you?

LL: I think the monthly meetings with the initiatives. They helped me to build up an idea. And regardless of the proposals or the field you work in, many of the difficulties you face are the same. The process of setting up an enterprise can be lonely, with lots of things you don’t understand.

AP: You realise that the problems you have are the same. The sessions were really helpful, not just for making contacts and friends but also for sharing problems and finding tools to overcome fears.

One of the things the incubation community offers is getting each of the initiatives to come back to the Incubation Community. How do you rate this exchange?

LL: We are working for equality, trying to correct an extreme inequality which is gender-based violence. So if they offer you and organise the chance to do different things that you want to do, it’s great.

What would you say to an entity that is joining or wishes to join InnoBAdora+?

LL: That you should go in unapologetically and try not to hide your problems. You should go in unabashed, honest and frank. And apart from that, you should make the most of the resources they offer you. Go in without fear, explain all your shortcomings or what you believe to be your shortcomings and do a bit of active listening.

AP: Because setting up an enterprise is hard work, making a space and getting together with other people who are like you gives you support and access to information and advice.

And finally, what’s it like leaving after three years of incubation?

LL: I’m sure this isn’t the case for all initiatives, but we needed security; we needed a framework or structure that would give us a sense of security. We gave a lot of thought to leaving InnoBAdora+, a lot of thought; it’s like leaving home. Sometimes you don’t see the support they provide day in, day out. But this support, this structure, when you leave, you notice it. And it leaves a mark on the way we work.

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