A grocery store that champions small producers from all over Greece then turns the profits into food for those in need; a pop-up kitchen where you can savour exciting new tastes from emerging local chefs; a hub to recycle your old unused laptop in exchange for valuable new computer skills. This is the future of the neighbourhood market place – and it’s just touched down in Kypseli’s popular Fokionos Negri strip. Kypseli, one of Athens’ oldest and most vibrant multicultural suburbs, has re-invented the classic agora with the creation of the country’s first collective social entrepreneurship market.
After a recent renovation by the Municipality of Athens, the old Demotiki Agora (Kypseli Municipal Market) now houses 8 innovative social enterprises, including the ones above. All were chosen for their economic viability and positive social impact. The landmark Kypseli market, built in 1935, has survived many demolition threats. Its dynamic return to active duty marks Greece’s first new non-profit co-management model in a public space.
Officially opened in October 2018, the bold community prototype is being piloted by the Municipality of Athens, social economy operators and internationally-experienced social entrepreuneur network Impact Hub Athens. Other vendors chosen out of 30 applicants include: a “social florist” (Flower Power) who grows and sells seasonal flora with the help of people living with disabilities; an organic juice bar (Biohive) where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetable juices directly from farmers; and a social agora (Archipelagos) for second-hand goods creating jobs for those coping with mental illness. The new market space also hosts free educational and cultural activities for adults and children.
The project is helping to re-ignite the economy of the pedestrianised Fokionos Negris precinct and Kypseli in general.