Helping small agricultural producers in the Odorheiu Secuiesc region to sell and promote their locally-produced artisanal goods
In Romania, 95% of farms are family-owned and small in size, with low production volumes and are not technologically equipped to meet market requirements. The landscape of the rural Odorheiu Secuiesc region has been shaped over the centuries by the work of these local small scale producers. Though today they are able to produce a surplus, they have to deal with the challenges of climate change and the increase of imported food in the market.
Helyenvalo is committed to helping them by selling and promoting their locally-produced goods in its store and through online channels. To date, the social enterprise supports more than 100 small scale producers, selling their meat, fresh vegetables, pastries, bee products, herbal spices, and other goods directly to consumers.
These smallholder farmers are key drivers for the revival and conservation of local orchards, protecting the biodiversity of the Romanian-native fruit and vegetable species. By supporting them, Helyenvalo also contributes to the attractiveness of the Odorheiu Secuiesc region for tourists, who bring in additional income for the local communities.
The social enterprise organises tastings, tea sessions, and farm visits in the local farmers’ communities. Customers are invited to these gatherings and personally engage with the makers of the products they buy, so they can see with their own eyes how these are sustainably sourced and made.
In addition to this, Helyenvalo promotes projects that improve the ecological awareness of local residents. Among other initiatives, they accomplish this by creating videos that communicate the stories of its small scale farmers, highlighting their environmentally-sustainable practices and sharing the benefits of purchasing local products.
In 2021, Helyenvalo expanded its sales channels and began distributing its products to grocery stores in nearby cities. Beyond helping the social enterprise to consolidate its new distribution partnerships, through the Poland and Romania accelerator it will receive technical guidance to upscale its marketing strategies and speed up its growth.
Together, NESsT, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship, and Helyenvalo will develop methodologies and tools that will enable the social enterprise to amplify its positive social and economic impact, while contributing to a healthy environment.
So we are looking for professional good examples and help to move forward, because we are convinced that our work is needed. That's why it was a great pleasure to join the NESST/ IKEA Social Entrepreneurship accelerator. It allows us to learn new methods and to get in touch with like-minded organizations.
Judith Molnár, Helyenvalo shop administrator.