CUCULA, a refugees company for crafts and design

CUCULA is a pilot project based in Berlin that empowers 5 refugees to build their future by building furniture and receiving training.

The social enterprise CUCULA is an association, a workshop and an educational program all in one. It is for and together with refugees in Berlin. In contrast to the theoretical debate about the situation of refugees in Germany, the initiators strive for a pragmatic, immediate and action-oriented approach. The aim and object is to achieve something "together with" the refugees and not simply "for them". 

In response to the increasingly critical situation of refugees in Berlin, the Internationale JugendKunst- und Kulturhaus Schlesische27 decided to install a shelter for 5 young men from West Africa at their facilities in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Soon enough the 5 men, Malik, Moussa, Saidou, Maiga and Ali started to build furniture with product designer Sebastian Däschle, to equip their rooms. This marks the birth of CUCULA which then went on to become an actual business venture with a social mission.

Maiga, Moussa, Ali, Saidou and Malik are from Niger and Mali. They left their home countries many years ago. Armed conflicts, hunger and lack of prospects forced them into exile. Upon arriving in Europe they were confronted with homelessness and no opportunity to work. Without residence or work permit, the passivity is forced on them. This is where CUCULA takes action.

In order to open up a professional perspective and to engage in a proper education, the 5 young men need a residence and a work permit. The furniture sale helps pay their five scholarships, an important step towards legal residence. CUCULA has established its own workshop, a lively 'production environment' run together with designers and tutors. It is here that unique design furniture is taking shape, accompanied by education in the areas of woodwork, construction and planning. CUCULA Education also offers academic classes, including language training and legal advice as well as additional support with the trainees' daily routine.

CUCULA wants to establish a 'welcoming culture', which helps refugees to break with the notion of 'victimhood', and at the same time unfold their self-efficacy and to open up a perspective for a self-determined life. The word "Cucula" originates from the Hausa language in western central Africa, and means "to do something together", as well as ‚ "to take care of each other".