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Italian Roberta de Martino was actually happy with her job in the cultural sector. Nevertheless, she felt like something was missing from her life - the opportunity to be of positive influence to other people and articulate social problems. So in 2015 she became the co-founder of SOLIDRINKS - Solidary Drinks - a social enterprise and non-profit organization that collects money for humanitarian projects focused on helping refugees. The Sole Mate- a fair trade, sustainable and vegan Mate drink - is the product through which she supports SOLIDRINKS partner-projects, for instance the Women in Exile and the Champions ohne Grenzen. At the same time, SOLIDRINKS’ team operates a “tandem, job sharing model” in which refugees, migrants and locals work together to encourage integration.


What is the biggest challenges you see in society today?

Migration is a big issue. We can’t ignore immigration, and we can’t just have the nice aspects of it either - like the good Turkish food or the nice music from The States. We have to deal with the whole package.


How does your company/project tap into that and what goals are you working towards?

With SOLIDRINKS we want to raise money for refugee projects. And for me as a woman, it’s also an important way to deal with this male world, which both the start up and the “drinking business” are. It’s a challenge. With our tandem structure we want to challenge the hierarchy. Both between men and women and between locals and immigrants. We bring a local - an established person from Berlin -  together with a migrant. This is challenging in the beginning, but if you work together you improve fast. And these new people in Berlin are so curious and open-minded, they are so motivated - they’ve lost everything and are the most motivated people to get their life back. In a way they start from zero, and to bring their energy together with a more established person is a very good combination.


How would you explain circularity, and what does it mean to you?

For me it’s a system, that doesn’t leave anything out - a democratic shape. A system that begins and ends in a coherent way. I myself am trying to be coherent with what I believe and to make choices in my everyday life so that I’m happy and so the people I deal with are also happy. On a practical level, the mate that we sell in SOLIDRINKS contains fair trade, certified ingredients. We try to implement sustainable production wherever possible, emphasizing returnable glass bottles, local filling and short itineraries as well as ingredients from eco-farming.


Where does your personal motivation come from to do what you’re doing?

I loved what I did before - working in the artistic and cultural field. It was fulfilling, but mostly for my ego. I wanted to build up something more permanent with more impact on other people and social problems. At the time I had met many refugees, one lived in my flatshare, and I faced this reality that there are people who are very unfortunate. As a migrant myself I had the experience that everything in Germany was based on these strange rules and bureaucracy, and I wanted to find a way to work against that.