An ethical, social and solidarity brand that is committed to changing this society by improving the lives of the most vulnerable.
Top Manta Project was born as a project of the Popular Labor Union of Street Vendors of Barcelona, Spain, an organization that seeks to demonstrate the capabilities and value of migrants who want to work legally to contribute to the global and Barcelona economy and improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable people.
For years migrant street vendors have been targeted by the police, politicians and media because of current legislation and institutional racism prevent migrant persons fleeing their home countries, whether due to poverty, war, violence or persecution, to access decent work. The project has allowed the Popular Trade Union of Street Vendors of Barcelona to dignify our work, register our own logo and create our own business, with which we want to regularize the administrative situation of the street vendors that live in Barcelona, integrate it into the city and make aware to the population on our current problem, eliminate racism and get the necessary support from society and political groups to modify the current legislation that discriminates against the poorest and most vulnerable collectives.
This project has been created and is carried out by people on the move as a collective that experienced displacement. The Association is mainly composed of migrants and racialized people. Currently, is made of 150 migrant members, of which 9 of them are fully involved in Top Manta Project.
Since our creation we have achieved the regularization and integration of 85 street vendors, either through a contract of at least one year with our association or through our struggle with which we have managed to get the city council to launch labor initiatives for the street vendors that include various occupation plans that involve labor contracts of at least one year duration to achieve their regularization.
Finally, with the project already started we intend to improve our infrastructures and material to continue with the work of economic development of our city Barcelona and of our colleages that are still in an irregular situation.
Our social and solidarity project is based on four main pillars:
- Seek labor solutions to the group of street vendors in our city and the exclusion suffered due to current immigration legislation that prevents migrants from accessing a decent job and life.
- Build bridges with local community: integrate our collective into society, improve our living conditions, dignify our work, demonstrate our value and contribute to the economy of the planet and our host country.
- Advocacy initiatives: promote and contribute to the elimination of immigrant discriminatory laws.
- Contribute to the suistanable development of our planet by using organic and fair trade textils.
We are currently working on the following lines of social and solidarity economic activity:
- The main activity is local local commerce: design, sewing, screen printing and sale of our own fashion garments and other products (t-shirts, sweatshirt, bags, caps, among other accessories), as well as screen printing services at economic prices.
- Training services, advocacy, cultural exchange activities and talks aimed at entities, groups, schools and in the public administration: training in anti-racism, in the rights of migrants.
- Sewing services
- Food services: street vendors’ dinners (Senegalese food services, mainly in popular festivals, political, cultural meetings, etc.)
Our idea is to expand the possibilities of self-employment so that colleagues who have trades and knowledge can apply them in some type of service, promoting the presence of migrants in the cooperative world and favoring the development of a global social market. Our project and self-management model has begun to be implemented in other cities in Spain and we believe that it can inspire all vulnerable groups and extend to all countries of the world, so that migrants can work and reside legally in the country to which they migrate, be able to demonstrate their worth, their knowledge and culture, have a dignified life and strengthen ties with the host community. This is how we understand self-management: political innovation for a more just and hopeful horizon.
We are convinced that promoting the presence of migrants in the cooperative world favors development from an anti-racist perspective and the improvement of the social market.
Did you use the resources offered during the Improve Phase (mentorship, expert feedback, community research)? (2000 characters)
This phase helped us to strengthen our message: migrants are entrepreneurs and creatives, and that this results in a benefit for all. With our brand and activities, we are promoting the participation of migrants in the territory, and so their inclusion&recognition. We are also building bridges with the local community that participate not only by buying our products but also in our fight for a social transformation, making them participants of a global change and a more sustainable development.
The community comments and feedback showed to us that through the purchase of our products and participation in our activities, we invite the local (Spanish) community to collaborate in an important social change, which creates an important feeling of participation in a social transformation for a more hopeful world, as it was showed during the event we organized with our neighbours in Barcelona.
Mentorship: we had a very constructive meeting with our assigned mentor, Tawfiq Abbud, that help us to identify some áreas that might be clarified in our idea. We learned how valuable is our idea and how it can change the lives of a lot of people, not only to our collective here in Spain but around the world as a model of self-management and advocacy that will inspire many other vulnerable groups globally. We have learned how important is to show to the community: the process how we plan to solve the legal status of the migrants (including statistics about the work we have done and how many lives we can change in a given time period if we get the funding), the legal journey for migrants in irregular situation and how is the process to get a legal work/residence permission in Spain and the connection we have with the local business and community through our project and activities. We have edited our idea adding new information & images and a complete business plan to include all this information. Experts feedback: from the valuable answers obtained from our expert (Swatee Deepak), we have learned that although we are currently carrying out many of the proposed initiatives (i.e collaborations with local students, artists, fashion designers, NGOs saving lives in the sea, attendance at European events such as City Rights United events and Permanent People's Tribunal) we can continue to improve and strengthen these collaborations to raise our message worldwide and achieve legislative changes. Community research: during the improve phase we have shared our idea to the migrant and local community through our social networks and we have organized an event with our local neighbours in Barcelona were we showed our project and our fight for our human rights. The comments and stories learned during this phase demonstrated a positive mentality change in our collective and the community as bridges are built as a benefit for all.
In what ways would potential BridgeBuilder funds allow you to pursue your idea that other funding opportunities have not? (1000 characters)
BridgeBuilder funds would be essential for us to develop the brand globally and reach our objectives: increase the production/sales of the brand's products in the online shop, the sale to other local business/spaces enabled in social events/fairs, increase our presence in human rights events, schools/universities, and to reach >140 street vendors contracted directly by the project and through our struggle getting occupational plans by the city council with laboral contracts of at least 1 year duration and achieve legislative changes against immigrants discriminatory laws. For this we would need to have a wider space to store the products, expand the silkscreen equipments, garments and sewing workshop, and have our own transport vehicles ($100K). It would also allow us to offer labor contracts to street vendors in our multi-service cooperative and implement advocacy & cooperation initiatives ($100K). The overall funding needed to accomplish these objectives is $200K.
What aspects or proportion of the overall idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (1000 characters)
BridgeBuilder funds could allow us to legalize a greater number of people in an irregular situation offering job opportunities and training scholarships and continue creating bridges for their inclusion, protection and recognition. The funds would also be used to make the brand more competitive in the fashion world to expand the brand and our message globally, also to have the necessary resources to participate in activities and events globally at universities/administration for the formulation of policies that can make a difference in the fight against poverty, inequality and the fulfillment of human rights in the world. We want to launch the 'International Day against Inmigration Laws'. With the funds, we would also want to set up cooperative projects with the farmers of our country of origin (Senegal) to contribute to its development and the end of poverty in Senegal.
What are the key steps or activities for your idea for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (1000 characters)
Top Manta project calendar of activities and objectives planning for 2019-2021. For more details, please refer to our attached Business Plan. The activities that we could carry out thanks to the BridgeBuilder prize funds are marked in green.
Our main activity will be to continue looking for collective solutions to the problems faced by the > 400 street vendors that live in Barcelona, not only labor, but also legal, housing, training, etc., regularize their administrative situation and integrate it into the city, raise awareness to the population about our current problem, continue strengthening bridges with the local community, eliminate racism and get the necessary support from society and political groups to modify the legislation that discriminates against the poorest and most vulnerable groups. Currently, through our struggle and our project we have achieved the regularization and work permit of 85 colleagues. Our goal is to achieve the regulation of 35-40 colleagues more to be contracted directly through our project by 2021 and cooperate with the local administration to establish occupation plans that involve labor contracts of at least one year duration for another ≥ 100 street vendors by 2021.
What will community-level impact look like over the timeframe of your idea? How will you determine whether or not you have achieved that impact? And what outstanding questions do you still have? (1000 characters)
IMPACT: By 2021, our goal is to achieve the regularization of ≥140 street vendors. Continue building bridges with local community: integrate our collective into society and modify the current legislation that discriminates against the poorest and most vulnerable collectives. Launch globally the ‘International Day Against Inmigration Laws’. Have our project as a model of self-management and advocacy that inspire many other vulnerable groups globally. MEASUREMENT: We will measure the number of colleagues that get their regularization through our project and struggle. We will also measure the number of followers in our social networks and events to measure the ties with the local community, inspire other vulnerable groups globally and change discriminatory laws. QUESTIONS: How can we work with the youth community of our origin country to prevent them from risking their lives and leaving their families behind in order to have a better life and eliminate poverty?
Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (1000 characters)
The Labor Union is made up of more than150 members. There are 9 members who work and collaborate actively in the association and the Top Manta Project mainly in the following activities: design, sewing, screen printing and sale of our own fashion garments and other products (t-shirts, sweatshirt, bags, caps, among other accessories), as well as screen printing services. Training services and talks aimed at entities, groups, schools and in the public administration: training in African culture, anti-racism and in the rights of migrants. Social and volunteers networks, communication with the press and with other groups/human risghts associations/local commerces/artists/fashion designers. Organization of group trips to Senegal for cultural exchange and Senegalese food services, mainly in popular festivals, political, cultural meetings, etc. Please watch our video to know us better, learn about our history and what the Top Manta Project means to us.
Lastly, how did you apply new learnings to your idea? (1000 characters)
Our mentor helped us to learn how to explain how is the legal journey for migrants in Spain and how our project can help to resolve this situation.
Thanks to our mentor and expert valuable advice, we have created some grafics that help to understand more tangible our human problem, how we can resolve it and the work we do.
The improvement phase overall has help us to learn how valuable this project can be, not only to resolve our problem as a migrant collective, but also to inspire other vulnerable migrant groups in the world as a model of self-management, sustainable development, bridge with the host community and advocayof human rights, and how to make our message to be understand globally.
We created and included a video that describes how is the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implementd and how our idea works.
We have also prepared a business plan to our idea to fully describe our project, market analysis, organization and management , services and products, marketing, sales and finantial aspects.
During the improvement phase, we used the community research toolkit and expert advice to apply insights from feedback by end users and the community our project aims to serve. In this case study with one of the street vendors that benefit from the project, we have collected his experience as migrant that experienced displacement himself.
We aim to use this experience to be communicated to all our audiences in social networks and events, so that they can better understand our situation and how the project can improve the lives of many people and build bridges with the host community.
Thanks to the valuable comments of our mentor and expert, we have realized of the value of our idea and how it can help other vulnerable groups in the world, but we have also learned how important it is to know how to properly communicate our message to all our audiences and thus achieve a social transformation in the world. Thus, we have edited our idea to explain&make visual how is the legal journey for migrants in Spain and how we can solve the problem, how our brand and activities are integrating the collective within the society and our legal advocay activities to change legislation. We also added a complete business plan to our idea to include all this information. The community research showed to us how the project is helping migrants of the collective and that we are also building robust bridges with the local community, that participate not only by buying our products but also in our fight for a social transformation, making them participants of a global change.