Innovation That Matters

Points-based supermarket tackles unemployment in Italy


The Portobello supermarket prices its items with points, offered to families through the Social Services of Modena to tackle unemployment and poverty in an area struck by the credit crisis.

London’s The People’s Supermarket is one example of a grocery store that offers lower prices in exchange for a few hours work each month. Now the Portobello supermarket in Italy is hoping to use the business model to tackle unemployment and poverty in an area struck by the credit crisis. Unemployment in Italy has peaked in recent months, even reaching a 20-year high of 11.7 percent in January. Such figures have a detrimental effect on local governments as the number of families relying on benefits rises. The Social Services of the City of Modena – in collaboration with the Association for Voluntary Services Modena – has launched the Portobello emporium, which is fitted out in much the same way as a typical grocery store. However, each item is assigned a value in points, rather than Euros, which are issued to local residents after means testing, according to their individual or family situation. The most needy are entitled to a greater number of points to spend. Participants in the scheme are also required – if they’re able – to volunteer at the supermarket or other projects in Modena. This way, community members can help each other and themselves to improve their quality of life by directly working for the sustenance and home goods they receive as benefit from the local government. Working Modena residents can also help out by donating money or grocery products to the scheme, or volunteering their own time. The Portobello supermarket provides a central space for unemployed and poor residents in Italy to both contribute and benefit, while local governments ensure that their welfare remunerations are used for items necessary to live, rather than squandered. As Italy isn’t the only country suffering from high unemployment rates at the moment – especially in Europe – could local authorities in your part of the world implement a similar scheme? Spotted by: Gabriella Piergianni



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