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Bella Milano
Integration through Simple Daily Acts and Human Centric Technology
Bella Milano, our first project with the Municipality of Milan
Since October 2013, more than 130,000 asylum-seekers have chosen Milan as a transit spot towards other European cities or as a safe place where restarting their life. Several reception facilities had to be created throughout the city, and the Municipality of Milan, as a welcoming city, decided to play a positive role in managing the reception of asylum-seekers and refugees. Reception centres can have a significant impact in a neighbourhood’s life, and local administrations have the capacity to ensure that these complex dynamics are well governed.

Funding values & impact report
benefit corporation
Milan is strongly committed to inclusiveness and anti-discrimination.
A powerful tool to support this commitment is the direct involvement of the local community in integration efforts. An example of this is ‘Bella Milano’ (Beautiful Milan), an initiative through which asylum-seekers living in Milan reception centres volunteer together with Milanese citizens in taking care of public spaces in the city (cleaning of green spaces, emptying the bins, etc). 
In order to reward asylum-seekers for their voluntary work, the Municipality and Merits S.r.l. SB, developed a reward-coin mechanism: asylum-seekers and Italian volunteers are offered merits tokens – digital social vouchers - that they can spend in the shops participating in the initiative.

Knowing each other
The initiative serves the purpose of creating opportunities for integration and mutual understanding. It improves relationships the with local community, as asylum-seekers are better known in their neighbourhood, thanks also to the mentoring offered by Milanese volunteers that operated as “personal shoppers and city-guides”; during the simple, daily act of shopping together asylum-seekers and Italian volunteers learn a lot about each other as individuals and about their cultures: strong personal bonds are created.
Local economy
All the volunteers involved in Bella Milano spend their merits tokens to buy goods and service at local businesses that can redeem the merits for euro from a budget allocated by the municipality. We generate a double impact: a) support to local businesses that have economic and social value; b) facilitate a change in the way the shop owners perceive the asylum seeker, they now are seen as clients and active citizens that take care of the neighboroud.
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