Courageous Citizens: Ivo Krug Back

Courageous Citizens: Ivo Krug

In the interview series with Courageous Citizen grantees here’s Ivo Krug, who together with his team, turned Tek Bunkeri into a social innovation initiative and digital network platform in Tirana.

What was your idea about?

After a temporary artistic intervention at an abandoned military base in Tirana we wanted to turn Tek Bunkeri into a social innovation initiative and digital network platform. We work with local communities in Albania to develop and prototype sustainable utilization models for abandoned military facilities. Our idea is to engage local communities in the whole process from idea generation and design to implementation, while providing visibility and a space for exchange and co-creation, working towards a network between Albanian and other European actors.

How did your participation in the incubator workshop help you transform your idea into an effective project?

The incubator workshop had a really strong effect on our own goals and expectations, which were very high in the beginning. The exchange with the other grantees who attended the workshop in Aveiro and the really positive guidance of the 4iS facilitators helped a lot bringing our ambition to a more realistic level and defining our priorities. After the incubator workshop, I decided to create a similar workshop for our team to get used to the tools and methodologies we learned and to distil our goals, desired outcomes and specific steps we want to take during our implementation phase.

What difficulties did you encounter, and did you overcome those?

Coping with the Albanian environment was a challenge from day one. Many agreements and positive feedback from potential partners turned out to be shallow, which affected our project schedule and scope several times. Fortunately, we always found feasible solutions for all challenges. But the biggest difficulty for us was working as a team – from Berlin and Tirana, as volunteers with different professional and private obligations on the side. Throughout the year, some team members left the project while others joined. These changes were challenging but felt like an invigorating evolutionary process.

Can you describe a successful moment? What did it teach you for later steps in your project?

Many encouraging encounters with local community members and like-minded established social entrepreneurs boosted our confidence and felt like little treats throughout the project period. Beyond these meetings, the strongest impact came from the professional world we didn’t feel part of and which we admired. The invitation to the Yunus Global Social Business Summit 2018 as well as the support of the make.sense and Ashoka ChangemakerXChange communities were equally great moments. It felt like being invited to a community we could never be part of, like total beginners with a dream entering a room of passionate professionals. These communities taught us that we really can realise our visions if we are not afraid of being open about our passion and insecurities and that there will also be someone willing to share their experiences and skills to help us.

What was the biggest surprise you did encounter in the project?

By far the biggest surprise was the interest in collaboration of local municipalities and higher public administration. From the beginning, we expected difficulties convincing public authorities to work with us. Luckily the mayors, administrators or ministry staff we approached were and are all open for collaboration and seem to really like our initiative. It was incredibly easy to get administrative support for our pilot project, but also for our bigger projects to come.

Did you achieve what you dreamt of? Or even better? What impact did you generate?

The way I see our work, whatever happened was the only thing that could have happened and it is a success. Scaling down our initial plans felt like a defeat at first, and neither did we realise our collaborative online platform. Nonetheless, it feels like we achieved what we dreamt of – creating a seed of change, a lighthouse project, a network, and our own organisation. Starting from the scratch and having a network of local collaborators, knowing ourselves embedded in different international networks, and having created quite a stir with our pilot project and request to replicate it in different locations feel like the biggest success we could achieve. Talking about impact might be a bit early at this stage. All we know is that we are part of a group that generates its own momentum for systemic change and hope for change in a rather depressed and deprived country. As we are currently in the phase of training and employing the first young members of a local Roma community, we hope 2020 will be our year of lasting impact.

Do you see a further development of your project in the future?

Yes, we do! Arnen will reduce his paid jobs and I will move from Berlin to Tirana with my family to professionalise our work. We are in the phase of registering as a NGO and Social Enterprise and have a much bigger plan than before. Retrospectively, the implementation of our ECF-funded pilot was the start of a bigger and longer journey we decided to take.