How it all started ...
Znuggle was conceived many years ago. When Alexandra was volunteering with VSO in Vietnam, she saw so many handcrafters earning less than minimum wage and often in poor conditions. She knew by then that she would start one day a Fair Trade enterprise. Fast forward a few years, and Alexandra started working with households in rural areas of Montenegro through the ecotourism company she founded, because she saw women crochetting with acrylic wool in their homes, struggling to sell their crafts, Alexandra decided to start Znuggle. She learned how to crochet, dye wool and started recruiting motivated ladies with the support of the Regional Development Agency and the Regional Business Center to set up Znuggle together.
“I wanted it to embrace all the values I strongly believe in – showing it is possible to create beautiful and unique products made of discarded material, raising awareness in an fun way about protecting nature and circular economy, but most importantly I wanted Znuggle to create employment opportunities and empower women in a vulnerable region of Europe that also needs cultural preservation. Znuggle is a social enterprise, so the profits we generate are re-invested to create more work opportunities and to fund social and environmental programs.”
Alexandra and Biserka in the mountains around Berane, where Biserka spends the spring and summer months with her farm animals.
Our world is changing faster than ever, leading to the loss of our traditions, and the destruction of our environment.
Znuggle is a living example that you can own beautiful and authentic products, whilst embracing the circular economy, honour century old traditions and help local communities.
When you order a Znuggle, 50% of your purchase goes straight back into vulnerable European communities.
Znuggle is a social enterprise. What does it mean? Although there is no universal definition of a ‘social enterprise’, or an agreed international label to define it, there are several common denominators which the following definition summarises well:
“The EU Commission defines a social enterprise as one whose primary objective is to achieve social impact rather than generating profit for owners and shareholders, which uses surpluses mainly to achieve these social goals and which is managed by social entrepreneurs in an accountable and transparent way, in particular by involving workers, customers and stakeholders affected by its business activity.”
Another study also made by the EU Commission notes growing convergence towards the definition of social enterprise as “an autonomous organisation that combines a social purpose with entrepreneurial activity”.
The BC Centre for social enterprise defines it as follows: “Social enterprises are revenue-generating businesses with a twist. Whether operated by a non-profit organization or by a for-profit company, a social enterprise has two goals: to achieve social, cultural, community economic and/or environmental outcomes; and, to earn revenue.”
The Impact Business Base defines social enterprises as enterprises that embed 1 of those 4 principles in their core mission:
- An enterprise where donating a part of their profit to a community/cause its supports is embedded in its business model
- An enterprise that sources its products/material from the communities it supports
- An enterprise that employs people from the communities it supports, giving them work
- An enterprise that sells its products and services to vulnerable communities to improve their lives
Znuggle actually embeds 3 of these 4 principles. Znuggle’s first mission is to create employment in a highly vulnerable area of Europe, by empowering rural women to support their families and communities. By doing so, Znuggle also wants to achieve another goal: educate kids and grown-ups on the importance of a circular economy in our society, with the protection of our environment and cultural traditions in mind.
On top of that, 5% of our profits are donated to social and environmental programs in line with our philosophy, while 20% is reinvested in expanding the rural women’s group involved in the creation of Znuggle products. Znuggle aims to involve its community of customers and stakeholders through social media engagement, and involves its workers in important decisions being made to run the enterprise.
Znuggle already follows the vast majority of the WFTO Fair Trade Standard principles and aims to becoming certified in the near future. We are committed to be an example in terms of Fair Trade principles in Montenegro.