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What the community is saying about the AIW

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Press Conference of Roots opening. April 2022



The Association for the Integration of Women was born when our founder, Caroline, met Ella, a 25-year-old refugee from Nigeria.  Ella left Nigeria to further her education and find work, but factors beyond her control prevented her from achieving her goal. Learning about Ella’s experience inspired Caroline to start the AIW. Within a few short days, Ella was connected to her first work opportunity. From this experience, Caroline identified a huge gap in the marketplace, and a need for a more holistic program that would offer training, social support, and job connections for migrant women like Ella. Wanting to do more, she set out to make that program a reality. 


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our community, we seized an opportunity to think more broadly about our services. We had to shift our plans in order to support our women and their families, while providing something that would benefit the Modenese community as well. Many of the women in our network were seamstresses in their home countries, and thanks to the support of Maria Vittoria Atilier and Jucca, all of the materials we needed to get us started were graciously donated to us! We began training and employing women to sew double-layer cotton face masks from home, and have since produced thousands for our community.


Starting in 2018, the AIW team began researching food-based social enterprise models all over the world; we gathered what we identified as best practices, and brought those learnings to our community in Modena. ROOTS is a social enterprise, food-based integration project designed to change the opportunities of migrant women. Together, with a network of partners and individuals in the private and public sectors in Modena, we developed our own unique model to help create a more inclusive future for our city. 


ROOTS is unique because it leverages the cultural and human capital of migrant women living in Modena who are passionate about food and want to share their flavors with the community. We offer holistic training that provides the technical and nontechnical skills and self confidence they need to succeed in the industry, while, at the same time, creating a platform to showcase their skills and share their food culture with the people of Modena. Functioning as a coworking space during the day and a restaurant at night, ROOTS will be a central part of the training we provide as we teach our program participants: the professional, culinary, and people skills they need.


The AIW has intentions to expand and offer its programs in many sectors. Our woman-led team has diverse backgrounds that we are leveraging to provide exciting and relevant events, trainings, and programs that can meet our women where they are at, showcase their potential, and make our community a more diverse and inclusive place. Keep a lookout on our social media for what is next!

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