XEIX - Fostering intercultural relations around local businesses
Barcelona, Eixample District
Type of Information
Retail Merchants’ Association ACEFP (Fort Pienc), Retail Merchants’ Association SAC (Sant Antoni), Barcelona City Council
Begoña Ruiz de Infante (expert in Chinese community) and Eva Maciocco (expert in South Asian communities) (Login to send email)
Contact Person Function
Interpreters and mediators
The XEIX project which promote economical, social and cultural development is implemented in Barcelona neighbourhoods with an important presence of immigrant retailers. The local retail shops are the starting point from which the project takes multiple directions.
Increased access to information is intended to facilitate participation in equal conditions, build on interpersonal relations and ultimately be the foundation of social cohesion. The Retail Merchant associations, together with cultural and social organisations are the vehicles of participation and involvement in the local life. Intercultural mediation is the pivotal tool used to reach the set goal.
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
The retail sector is currently suffering from changes in terms of consumer habits and new commercial models. In this difficult period, the presence of diversity in retail do not only contributes to the revival of the neighbourhoods but also challenges existing stereotypes about immigrants.
The project aims to promote social cohesion through local retail merchants. The latter, organised in an association conceived as a small social and economic promoter, are therefore the main partners of the project. Depending on the specific needs in some neighbourhoods, XEIX can also count on a variety of additional collaborators such as representatives of local communities and local or foreign media. The diversity of partners is essential as it allows the team to work in a transversal way, with a creative and flexible mind-set which leaves enough space for humour and tolerance, oh so pivotal to overcome difficulties. Furthermore, training and encounter opportunities in both public and private spaces facilitate positive interactions.
The project has the overall support of the Barcelona City Council.
How does it work
Initially (in 2012), the project started in the Fort-Pienc neighbourhood in Barcelona and aimed at promoting a progressive incorporation of the Chinese community into the local community. In 2014, this initiative was expanded to Sant Antoni, another neighbourhood in Barcelona, where it mainly targeted the Paquistanese community. This project carries out activities such as entrepreneurship training courses, Chinese after-school classes, introduction of Chinese and Paquistanese cultural elements into public events, and anti-rumour campaigns.
Though it was originally designed to bring together shopkeepers of diverse backgrounds to foster local development, this has now evolved and currently includes partners from other types of organisations such as local immigrant organisations, local institutions, non-profit organisations and private enterprises. The project now works with various city departments and services. It aims to apply intercultural principles to areas beyond immigration, such as economic activities. It is a challenge because there are more and diverse people involved in the project, and sometimes it is hard to reach an agreement but then it is powerful and innovative.
Local actors come together in the Retail Association to foster initiatives, ideas and collaborations. The Eix Fort Pienc Retailers' Association (ACEFP) has now become a catalyser of all local initiatives, both on economical (fairs and shopping campaigns) and cultural (local festivals and exhibitions) levels. The social and cultural activities carried out in the neighbourhoods promote participation, interaction and mutual acknowledgement in public spaces, and involve all kinds of profiles. For instance, a health fair included ayurveda, acupuncture, blood donation and herbalists stands. It is a place where all local shop owners can find useful information (in different languages), develop advocacy for common interests vis-a-vis the administration, and train to keep their business up to date with new technology such web sites or e-commerce.
The XEIX project has received the 1st prize of Diversity Advantage Challenge Award 2015 organised by the Council of Europe. The 10.000 euro gained will "encourages the staff to start preparing to expand the initiative into three more neighbourhoods” explained the councillor for the Eixample district, Gerard Ardanuy.
It success can also be measured from a number of other perspectives:
- From local shop owners point of view, it is a reference point since they all receive its informative brochures in different languages, are entitled to follow on of the 20 training programs and Catalan lessons organised for new residents in 2014, benefit from provided advises on economic and administrative issues and use it as a mediation platform to reach the local administration;
- For the general public, it offers a new and positive image of diversity through its regular presence in the local media (Catalan and Asian), the availability of Chinese lessons for Catalonian students and the organisation of 16 and the co-organisation of another 15 events in 2014 only;
- On an organisational point of view XEIX has allowed the synergies, collaborations between local and foreign organisations or institutions through their participation in public events. in 2014, the project counted on a network of 21 partners including Casa Àsia, Escuela China, Institut Confuci, Barcelona Activa, Consorci d’Educació, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, etc. It also proposed training on immigration and commerce to City Council staff
The XEIX project has been subject to the assessment of Diversity Advantage Challenge Award 2015 jury and is annually assessed by the Secretary of Immigration of the City Council of Barcelona. It has been ratified since 2012 for three consecutive years in the neighbourhood of Fort Pienc and expanded since 2014 to the Sant Antoni neighbourhood.
Who will benefit?
Since social cohesion, economic and social development are the ultimate goals of the project, all residents, merchants and actors in the neighbourhood benefit from from the project.
Source of funding and Resources used
The annual budget for 2015 was 79,976.65 euros. This only includes the remuneration of workers, and expenses for the management and coordination of the project. The cost related to the development of activities is part of the general budget of the organisations that lead them.
Other expenses are covered by the city council's budget, synergies with other municipal projects, collaborations with non-profit organisations, contributions from partners (the Association of Merchants Eix Fort Pienc, for example).
Number and type of workers needed for two neighbourhoods:
- Two professionals of interpretation & cultural mediation (25 hours/week)
- 1 expert in the Chinese community (mandarin speaker)
- 1 expert in South Asia communities (Urdu, Hindi and English speaker)