VB: Who is Matevž Slokar?
Matevž Slokar (MS): Surfer with a briefcase. A fighter for ethical capitalism, for social entrepreneurship. A person enjoying his life and seeking fun in everything he does - work and life in general. Life is too short to worry about insignificant things. As long as we are healthy and at ease with ourselves, everything else is insignificant.
Matevž Slokar already stood out from his peers at a very young age. As soon as he came of age he opened his first restaurant, Dama in Ajdovščina. It didn't take him long to realise that playing the boss was not going to lead to the desired results, so he rolled up his sleeves and took on any work in the kitchen. In a few years he relocated the Dama to a new, larger location in Ajdovščina. His first steps in the catering business led to numerous other projects whereby he gained experience and sought knowledge in reading. His company, Slo-bar d.o.o., received an award for best business idea from the local business daily - Finance. Following a year and a half of managing the Dama restaurant and the brand in Ajdovščina, he accepted the position of production manager at the Pristop marketing agency. In his two years at Pristop he managed and developed the image for several Slovenian brands. His responsibilities ranged from developing communication strategies to managing communications of various bands. Nowadays, he dedicates most of his energy to a social entrepreneurship project, called "S project", whose goal is to help vulnerable youths to leave their environments, trains them at the "S akademYa" to become chefs and helps them to find employment. The S project creates opportunities for young people. His courage, positive energy and ethics at work have led him further where his path intersected with the people running the Jamie Oliver foundation. They became strong supporters of the S project, currently training six youths from various parts of Slovenia. And this is just the beginning. His goal is to set a new milestone in social entrepreneurship, internationalise it and thus create opportunities for even more young people - and not forgetting how to have fun along the way. He has also been devoting a lot of energy to his company Slovely Ltd. in London, selling Slovenian high quality food products under the Slovely brand. The company supplies several high-end restaurants and food stores in London.VB: What was the strongest influence on your personal development so far?
MS: My parents influenced me the most. They provided me with all the basics for life. They taught me to respect all people and to appreciate what we get in life. Spiritually I have learned a lot from Dalai Lama. Life is too short to worry about insignificant things. Finding inner peace is one of the keys to leading a full life. I would also like to mention Richard Branson and Edward deBono. Branson because he puts having fun before work and money, while learning from deBono helped me develop my creativity and ideas. Reading books also significantly contributed to my development in general. I put a lot of theory that I had learned from books into practice, I learn from my mistakes and move on to new projects.
|Photo: Violeta Bulc and Matevž Slokar|
Source: photographer Matej Kolaković
VB: How do you understand social entrepreneurship and what attracted you to it? What differentiates your company from others?
MS: Social entrepreneurship is fun. It brings profits and helps people. -:) It is different from the traditional business operations, primarily because we allocate a part of the profits, normally paid out to the owners, into the projects aimed at helping people who need it. Young people are always searching for something new and unconventional. I believe that by choosing social entrepreneurship as the core of my activities I was able to utilise my personal values and at the same time I have achieved personal satisfaction.
VB: What are your key projects?
MS: 1. Zavod S - S project! This is a social enterprise that provides young people from socially weak families and regions with an opportunity for a better future. They train to become chefs at the "S akademYa". In addition to the culinary knowledge, we provide them with the knowledge of economics, ethics, etc. The project is financed by our products and services. These are marketed with the help of our partners Slovenian and foreign companies. If you want to know more about our business model, I would be happy to explain it in detail. It's quite unique in Europe. -:) Find out more about us at www.sproject.org.
2. "Slovely Ltd. in London"... The company I established in London sells Slovenian high quality food products to top restaurants in London. We supply Piran salt, Karst prosciutto and pancetta, Tolmin cheese, olive oil from Istria and a lot more. Find out more about that at www.slovely.co.uk.
3. "Slo-bar d.o.o." and the "Dama" restaurant ... this is where our social entrepreneurship project is put into practice. The restaurant is located in Ajdovščina and promotes all I have mentioned through our approach and offer. Find out more about that at www.dama.si.
VB: Why an academy for chefs?
MS: Simply because we had a kitchen available at the Dama restaurant. We had to start somewhere and we started in a kitchen. But we're not stopping there. In February next year, we will introduce our second "akademYa", which won't be for chefs. More about that after it starts.
"Within six months with akademYe I acquired the knowledge and skills that cannot be obtained anywhere else. Since significant progress in the kitchen, to useful knowledge such as: presentation at interview, public speaking, basic preparation of business plans, writing and managing small projects. Special experience, you're away from home, after 24 hours a day with new people. From The akademYe I leave more independent and confident. And I hope that in the future we meet again."
Member of the first generation S akademYe: Tadej Rezman
VB: Why does your name not appear anywhere on your company's website?
MS: Because it's not about me, it's about the team and the people around me. My projects involve some wonderful people. In order to manage good and creative projects, each of them has to do their jobs. One of my qualities is that I never run out of ideas.
|Photo: Tadej Rezman, Member of the first Sakademya|
Source: photographer Matej Kolaković
VB: What are your biggest challenges?
MS: Pursuing my personal satisfaction and a full life. I have learnt that the more I give, the more I get. I love it.
VB: Where do you see yourself in the future?
MS: I am frequently asked this question. And my answer is that I don't really know. I want to live "now" and to the fullest extent possible. What the future brings will, as always, happen for a reason. All I need to do is enjoy what I'm doing. The rest will be taken care of.
It was afternoon, call of Matevž, a former co-worker, and an invitation to coffee. A brief explanation and conclusion: "dare you?" And I did. It was the right time and the right place to build a new success story.VB: The excitement around the "S project" is building up. What is the "S project" and what are its goals?
The biggest challenge? S project.
Because we want in addition to training young people and create opportunities for them to establish a new example of good practice in the field of social entrepreneurship. Our efforts go beyond traditional social entrepreneurial projects. We build parallel brand “S” and living through the market with their own projects. But their earnings are not intended for individuals, but the development of the project and the high-rolling approximation of the goals we have set for S project.
And all of this was undertaken at a time when many people are afraid to start. But social entrepreneurship is the right time, because the distress of young people and the worst opportunities for them at least.
The project director: Ana Strand
MS: The "S project" creates opportunities for young people. It is an incubator of knowledge and ideas; it creates unique and applicable know-how under the guidance of outstanding young individuals. Its goal is to help socially vulnerable youths to grow into independent and ambitious individuals who employ their ideas and experience in developing the "S" brand according to our jointly envisioned goals and guidelines. They also participate in training of the next generations of the young people, attending the "S akademYa". The funds necessary to drive the wheels of "S akademYa" are, and will be, generated by the "S" brand products which we are developing together with our partners.
|Photo: Holders of flash S project|
Source: photographer Matej Kolaković
VB: Where can we see you next?
MS: Somewhere where is an abundance of positive energy and positive people in our offices where we are developing the most outlandish and fun projects.
One can feel the energy bursting from these words and thoughts. Matevž speaks a different language. A modern one. A joyful, yet terrifically anchored one. He speaks out of his awareness of the moment. He is fearless and trusting. He represents the world of our future. Let us leave the ballast of insecurity, anguish and fear out at the door. Together we can achieve anything we put our minds into. Let us join and support anyone, who wants to do good.