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Bullying: MaBasta, the youngest startup in Italy, tackle the issue

Daniele Manni, the mentor professor – entrepreneur of the social impact startup MaBasta, winner of Open-F@b Call4Ideas 2018, the open call promoted by BNP Paribas Cardif, describes the value of the award for the young company against bullying set up by students. “It’s a great time for growth”

14 May 2019

Concetta Desando

Redattore


A competition that’s worth more than an exit. Daniele Manni has no doubt: winning Open-F@b Call4Ideas for MaBasta’s guys is a great opportunity. “Not just a springboard to the business community, but a real opportunity for my students to meet with experts and be trained by them,” said the professor who led his students to win the call launched by BNP Paribas Cardif. 

MaBasta (that means ‘That’s enough’) is the Apulian startup that has developed a system to fight against bullying and cyberbullying: this project has won first place in the call launched by the insurance company focused on positive impact innovation. An opportunity that will give the founders of MaBasta the opportunity to be supported by BNP Paribas Cardif in the development and implementation of this project. 

MaBasta is a startup born at the Galilei-Costa Institute in Lecce and its founders are 17-year-old students led by the only adult member of the team: the professor of computer science Daniele Manni. A name now known both at school and in the Italian ecosystem. Daniele Manni is a “Prof-entrepreneur”: in addition to standard courses, he dedicates 40-50% of his teaching time to unconventional subjects such as innovation, creativity and change, to encourage his students in the innovative design and management of micro and small business activities. An insight that led him to be nominated for the “Nobel” for teaching in 2015, the “Global Teacher Prize” and last year he was the only Italian among the 12 finalists worldwide at the “Innovation and Entrepreneurship Teaching Excellence Awards“, the award dedicated to excellence in teaching in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship. 

In addition to the tangible implications, for some students, of a possible job created with their own hands (“some startups born at school have become small businesses that hire people,” he said), this particular teaching method with a focus on self-employment under 18 helps to establish in its students a greater awareness of themselves and their abilities, greater resilience and a more rooted confidence in the future. 

How MaBasta, the anti-bullying startup, was born 

MaBasta was born after a news story: “Two years ago in Pordenone a bullied girl committed suicide leaving a note to her classmates. “Now you’ll be happy,” she wrote. I was very shocked by this,” said Manni. He talks to his students at school about it, inviting them to report any violent actions they knew about. An idea that takes shape in an enterprise that is founded on February 6, 2016, not a random date: February 6, in fact, is the national day against bullying and cyberbullying. On that occasion, the students presented a real protocol made up of several points aiming to enter all Italian schools, from primary to high school, to defeat bullying and cyberbullying. 

In the first point, the students of MaBasta propose the choice in each class of a reference teacher for bullying. The Ministry of Education had already proposed the same idea but asked for the choice of one teacher per institute. “The students ask, instead, for the choice of a professor to be made in each class as a figure closer to them can help them in reporting bullying,” said Manni. The second point concerns the completion in each class of a questionnaire through which the teacher can assess the presence of bullies and bullied students. Then there is the introduction of a Bulli-Box in each school, where students can leave reports anonymously (the same possibility is offered on the site of MaBasta with a digital Bulli-Box); the identification of a “bully-cop”, students (boys and girls) who within the class are responsible for reporting any bullying to the reference teacher. “The ultimate goal is to allow each class to achieve debullized class status,” explains Manni. 

The pilot project started in some secondary schools in the district; now it has already been approved in two schools in the province of Lecce. 

The social impact of MaBasta and the success at Open-F@b Call4Ideas 

The social impact of a startup like MaBasta is clear: it is a social business that operates mainly through the conscious and positive use of the Internet and technology, whose mission is to concretely fight a phenomenon of widespread hardship among young people. A project born from the bottom, i.e. from the students, and addressed to the students: for the first time bullying and cyberbullying are dealt with by the same students, i.e. those who are directly involved (from the victims to the bullies to the viewers). 

A detail not overlooked by the jury of Open-F@b Call4Ideas. “The topic of Open-F@b Call4Ideas is particularly important to us – said Isabella Fumagalli, CEO of BNP Paribas Cardif and Coordinator of BNP Paribas International Financial Services (IFS) for Italy – since innovation is no longer just a technological issue for us. We want to innovate to better prevent, assist and protect our customers by improving people’s living standards. 

MaBasta participated in the BNP Paribas Cardif contest only to “exercise”. “I invited the students to answer the call so that they could learn how to become familiar with calls for proposals and tenders,” said the teacher from Lecce. Who emotionally recollects the phone call his guys made to him to report the winning. “I thought it was a joke. I understood that it was true from the voice broken by tears,” points out Manni, without hiding a touch of pride: “They did something good recognized outside the school environment, even by experts in an international contest. 

The students of MaBasta, indeed, left alone, without their teacher, to go to Milan, on the occasion of the call’s final event last November: “They were nervous, afraid. Basically, they’re just students used to dealing with other schools. This is an international contest open to real companies. We already thought it was a great achievement to be in the top ten,” said Manni again. 

Why Open-F@b Call4Ideas is important to MaBasta 

The startup founded by Daniele Manni’ students at Open-F@b Call4Ideas is linked to the social commitment that BNP Paribas Cardif has attributed to the 2018 call. “Last year, public and private entities started proposing contributions to MaBasta. We were at an important point in the history of this startup: deciding whether to create an association or a social enterprise. We opted for the latter,” said Manni again. An important choice as MaBasta is not a voluntary association but “a company that must guarantee a salary to those who work there and the profit that comes from it must then be invested in the social cause that is the very essence of the company. In such a transition, the support of BNP Paribas Cardif is crucial: who better than them will be able to explain to my students how to move on the market?” concluded the teacher. 

All rights reserved
Concetta Desando
Redattore

Due menzioni speciali al premio di giornalismo M.G. Cutuli, vincitrice del Premio Giuseppe Sciacca 2009, collabora con testate nazionali. Per InsuranceUp ed EconomyUp si occupa di startup, innovazione digitale, social network.

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