RURAL LINK - Discover.Connect.Thrive

Lewis Greener

April 7, 2020


TEAM PARTICIPANTS: Fanni Csöbi, Monika Domanska, Dominika Majewska, Sadaf Uddin, Daniel Kozma, Zsófia Szatmári-Margitai

The challenge / Research

Wider context:

“Over the last two generations it has lost more than 70% of its inhabitants due to major shifts in agriculture and lack of alternative opportunities.” This brings a level of disconnect between the community enhanced by the lack of self sufficiency and independence of the individual.

Context in detail: 

Odemira’s heritage is of skilled craftspeople and farmers. Amongst the local natives, there is a growing community of people moving to the region and starting small-scale projects and businesses. 


Due to the dispersed nature of the region, the lack of infrastructure and inconsistent entrepreneurial support, the projects and people tend to be isolated.  Which prevents mutual knowledge and skills exchange to further develop their businesses in the long term.


To create a community centered impact that embraces existing resources and aligns with Clara’s and other stakeholder values of:

  • Knowledge sharing 
  • Collective intelligence 
  • Fair trade
  • Circular economy

The why

Interviews with locals and our observations of the everyday life in the nearby villages helped us reaffirm our understanding of the context and our challenge is accurate.

One particular connection that we made during our research had a significant impact on our perspective of the challenge that we were addressing.

We visited a lady who runs a small business, selling baskets of vegetables that she has grown to her local clients. Her business started as a part of a bigger scheme, with many participants, but gradually this declined and the scheme was closed.  She still continues with her business and to make up for the lack of variety of produce she can offer, she coordinates with other local producers. She is able to sustain herself and satisfied with it but is aware that in order to grow her business she would have to employ someone, which she has found difficult to do in the past.

The idea

Our Idea is called Rural Link - a platform which maps the local resources and know how, to create a network that fosters creative collaborations and sustainable entrepreneurship. This results in giving visibility to local initiatives and reaching the wider community of the Odemira region.

The how

Pilot project: CLARA creates a local network and community platform called Rural Link

Step 1: In the first phase of the Rural Link, CLARA Center for Rural Future conducts research - locates people in the area, builds up a database of contacts and interviews people such as local business owners, artists, farmers, craftspeople.  They then collate this altogether and map the people and skills

Step 2: To bring this research to the wider local community, CLARA hosts a mingling party and an exhibition empowering the people and skills in the area 

Step 3: CLARA releases a website platform of Rural Link to connect to the wider community and provide a central source of information 

Step 4: Clara instigates a campaign promoting the initiative within the local community, to do this effectively Clara fosters collaborations with local businesses to deliver the message
Step 5:
CLARA analyses the impact and draws conclusions that help to improve the project for the next phase

Long term goals and outcomes

Clara to establish itself as a new and integral centre, leading by example of fostering social change and revitalisation of the region of Odemira.

For Clara to be immersively connected with the local community, and in return the local community can benefit from Clara in providing connection and dialogue. This is done by building on existing resources available to Clara, empowering the community to share knowledge and practice collective intelligence and collaboration.

For the native communities and the new settlers Rural Link provides a platform to connect with each other, in terms of locality, interest, knowledge and skills gap. With Clara’s guidance this potentially fosters a peer to peer entrepreneurial support that may otherwise not be possible due to the limitations of the Odemira region.