A total of 70 municipalities at risk of becoming depopulated start these days their route to attract new dwellers through Holapueblo, a project seeking to revert the abandonment in rural Spain promoted by Grupo Red Eléctrica, Correos and AlmaNatura. The initiative, now in its second edition, supports entrepreneurs to set into motion their business and settle in rural areas, as well as municipalities with low population levels to attract new residents.
The enrolment of people interested in making a change to their lives by moving to one of the participating towns is open until 11 June and may be done on: www.holapueblo.com, where you will find a photo gallery and a data sheet including the services, resources and business opportunities each municipality offers, so entrepreneurs can choose the location that best suits their life and business project. Out of all the applications, 35 people will be selected. They will have access to individualised mentoring aimed at developing their business idea and support in the search to find the municipality.
Majors and representatives of all the villages have held today a virtual meeting with the Holapueblo team. This is the starting signal for looking for new dwellers. During the meeting, Beatriz Corredor, Chairwoman of the Red Eléctrica Group, has passed on them that “abandoning villages is not a problem for rural Spain, but a problem for everyone. A development model where population is concentrated in the cities can no longer be sustained. The fight against climate change and the sustainability of the planet rely on finding demographic balance between rural and urban areas. Holapueblo thus addresses a local, national and global problem”.
Corredor added: “From the rural areas comes an unavoidable demand: that the greater social awareness on the importance of supporting villages caused by the pandemic is not short-lived, but rather has continuity and serves to ensure that those who live in a village have the same rights as those living in the city". In particular, Corredor mentioned digital rights, “those that open the door to working from home, remote education, remote health consultations, administrative services not requiring travelling kilometre after kilometre, art, culture and even sport. Without good connection, nowadays we cannot talk about full citizenship”.
In this regard, Holapueblo joins other social innovation initiatives Red Eléctrica is developing to contribute to rural areas being able to offer life conditions that attract population to stay or move there, like ensuring connectivity, either through optic fibre or Hispasat’s satellite network.
In the event took part Juan Manuel Serrano, president of Sociedad Estatal de Correos y Telégrafos. He declared that “by joining Holapueblo, we show our firm commitment to face the demographic challenge. The public service vocation of our company and the concern for the development and progress of all our citizens, regardless of where they live, makes us an essential agent in the contribution to improving the rural area, as well as an element in territorial structuring and social and economic cohesion. We are the largest utility company in Spain with the best and greater distribution networks. We have more than 50,000 professionals, of which 33,000 are mailwomen and men and 6,000 work in rural areas. Its network consists of 2,397 offices and 4,695 rural customer service points, and a fleet of 14,000 vehicles daily covering all the corners in the country, from large cities to the most remote locations".
He further highlighted: “Our commitment to rural areas has three main axes: driving the online sales of local producers through Correos Market, adding administrative services to our office networks that save costs and time to Administrations and the movement of citizens, and offering solutions against financial exclusion such as being able to make deposits and withdrawals of cash in our offices and wiring money to any address in Spain”.
During the meeting, Juanjo Manzano, Communications and Alliances Manager of AlmaNatura, shared with the majors the importance of the municipality getting involved if they want to attract new residents: “The Commitment of town halls is essential for the project to attain good results. Supporting the entrepreneurial models bringing new residents makes this public-private alliance a unique opportunity for sustainable rural development”.
In its first edition, Holapueblo helped 30 entrepreneurs. Among them are Elena Saiz and her partner, Emilio, who changed Madrid for Tragacete, in Cuenca, where she has opened an online zero waste store and he manages a historical objects reproduction business. “Emilio and I had been after a change like this for a long time, after leaving the city, moving to the rural area, being in touch with nature, and one of the fundamental steps to achieve that geographical freedom was to develop an entrepreneurial idea. We contacted Holapueblo and they helped us to find a municipality and to shape our entrepreneurial project”, described Elena.
The municipalities of this second edition are located in Andalusia, Aragón, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Comunidad Valenciana, Extremadura, Galicia and Navarra, and may be checked on the web holapueblo.com. They all meet the most important requirements for those who want to live and become entrepreneurs in rural areas, such as having good internet connection, choice of housing, doctors' surgeries and schools, among other.