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Valdete Idrizi was born and raised in North Mitrovica, currently an ethnically-divided city in Kosovo. She was expelled from her home in 1999 during the war and has not been able to return since then. Despite the difficult experience of the war, Valdete has dedicated herself to the dialogue between different communities, especially Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo. For many years she has been at the head of an NGO called "Community Building Mitrovica". In 2008, she was the European Winner of the "International Women of Courage Award". In this interview, Valdete speaks about the actual state of things in Mitrovica and the work that needs to be done there.
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crossborder factory is born from the desire of the three founders to set up an organisation using the expertise and experience of each of them. The objective of the organisation is to combine three topics close to the hearts of its founders: European political issues in general, a special focus on work with and in South-Eastern Europe specifically and, lastly, intercultural work as a general focus. They were also keen to experience something new as a civil society actor. crossborder factory was therefore set up not as an ordinary association, but rather as a social enterprise. For Martine, Frank and Nicolas this offers an opportunity not only in breaking new ground, as all three have a background mostly in the NGO sector, but also an exciting and attractive challenge.
Besides these shared interests and objectives, Martine, Frank and Nicolas have specific personal reasons why they have decided to found their own organisation:
“This project gives me the opportunity to realise my own ideas within a framework that allows both liberty and possibilities – it is especially inspiring to work in an organisation alongside two very experienced people. I got to know Frank and Nicolas through intercultural projects and had the impression very early that these were two people with whom I could work very well with. We complement each other well: Frank is full of new ideas and very motivating, Nicolas works analytically and is balancing, whereas my strengths are in my emphasis on a structured working style and my networking skills.”
“I am someone who likes to work, on the one hand, in the framework of institutions and, on the other hand, on my own research projects and other activities within my own timeframe. Up until now I have alternated between phases of an institutional nature and phases involving freelance work. Each has its advantages but also its drawbacks: the institutional environment as a full-time job left me little time for other work, whereas freelance work left me missing a more structured environment. crossborder factory is, for me, the opportunity to combine both approaches within the same working environment: the project enables the development of exciting projects in collaboration with competent and motivated partners in a structured environment whilst, at the same time, having the freedom and time to work on my own projects that are not necessarily directly related to crossborder factory.”
“In my career there have been many opportunities for reflection on the advantages and disadvantages of founding an institution. I have worked for eleven years as a freelancer in Germany, France and South-Eastern Europe. Taking this into account, the progression towards forming a company was logical. Two specific experiences have, for me, led to the establishment of crossborder factory. The first of these moments being my participation in the Vision Summit 2011, organized by Genesis Institute and the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance (as well as others) on the topic of social entrepreneurship. This Vision Summit has inspired me very much and encouraged me to see the issue of innovation in social and socio-political projects from a new perspective. Secondly, the experience of creative and stimulating cooperation in our intercultural team has instilled in me the confidence and motivation for the foundation of crossborder factory.”