Back to News

Story of Simbioza

Simbioza Genesis, social enterprise, was founded in May 2014. It was a consequence of an organic growth from a project ‘Simbioz@ e-literate Slovenia’, which started in 2011.

The project included weeklong computer workshops across whole Slovenia, where young volunteers teach the elderly the basics of computer and internet. It connected thousands of people nationwide, and after 5 years of presence, we had more than 70 thousand participants joining Simbioza. A Slovenian project on raising e-literacy level of elder population by young volunteers, this project embraced all individuals, regardless of any characteristic that can encourage discrimination. We promote the right to access the Internet technologies to all citizens, and with that, we strengthen tolerance, respect, trust, solidarity and encourage cultural and lingual diversity.

Our story of Simbioza started with an alarming fact: 2009, 94 % of people over the aged of 65 have never touched a computer. This was the initial problem Simbioza addressed, as population in the world is ageing rapidly, but people also live longer. We found locations with existing infrastructure, invited almost every stakeholder in Slovenia to participate and triggered a nationwide euphoria with participants. It was meant to be only a one-time initiative in 2011, but because of market demand grew into a social business in 2014.

In early 2014 we got the confirmation of our efforts: the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia has published data showing that shares of daily computer and Internet users among older people are three and seven times higher than five years ago (in 2009). We believe that digital society must be inclusive for all generations. That is why our principle activities are based on empowering people with digital literacy through intergenerational cooperation. We combine the energy of the youth with the experiences of the elder to prepare both target groups for a digital future.

After 7 years we are working on several projects:

- Simbioza School model (transferring the e-literacy model in local environments where schools organize Simbioza workshops twice per year with our modules): around 7000+ included (seniors + volunteers); 145 primary and secondary schools in our national network.

- Simbioza Moves (weeklong nationwide action since 2014 by doing sports in intergenerational focus): last year the action is 15.-22.10.2018, where we had over 520 locations nationwide; last year we had 313 locations and 23.700+ participants (young and seniors).

- Simbioza Masters (280-hour training for youth with less opportunity, combined out of 4 topics: ICT skills, Teaching the Elder, Project Management and Practical work with the elder): 45 young people included in 2014 and 2015, funded by National Employment Agency.

-Simbioza Digital Academy (advanced computer workshops for empowering youth and active workforce in the field of ICT skills for higher youth employability), operating since 2014, including around 900 individuals per year. Expanded activities include also workshops for organizations and their employees.

- Intergenerational Center (first of its kind in Ljubljana, offering daily activities for seniors and unemployed aged over 55, as well as for children aged between 5 and 12 – summer school of coding, etc.): 700 seniors + children per year.

- Simbioza International (connecting with partners abroad to transfer the Simbioza model abroad as it is applicable to every country with similar population challenges. Our international initiative coincides with the promotion of voluntarism, empowerment for higher employability and easier mobility for young people. Having in mind the coherent and indispensable knowhow, the structure and a wide pallet of experiences, we want to connect with likeminded people abroad and address their similar social issues. So far, we had 2 pilot workshops: one in Shanghai, China and in Zagreb, Croatia.)

- Simbioza with Roma Youth (pilot workshops in Roma communities with Roma children between 6 and 12 years old and young Roma mothers, aged between 13 and 24 years): piloting with 30 participants in two major Slovenian Roma communities.

Our mission: Simbioza aims at improving the quality of life and well-being of our two target groups – the elder as well as the youth – by providing unique employment, networking and mutual learning opportunities.

Vision for the future: Simbioza wants to become a leading world forum on the topic of intergenerational cooperation and exchange of knowledge and experiences. The team of Simbioza consists of young Generation Y representatives or in our words, generation of innovations, which creates opportunities of future digital society. With the purpose to strengthen cooperation between different stakeholders on the topic of inclusive digital society and to promote Slovenia as a case of good practice on the topic of social innovations we wish to contribute to build up Slovenian reputation in international community. Our vision is to create and spread a universal model of intergenerational cooperation that can be applied to every environment with similar social challenges. Simbioza Genesis, social enterprise, is focused on becoming the ambassador of social economy, which is becoming the foundation of sustainable development of society and environment that we live in.

simbioza is proudly presented by: