Bringing music closer to people in Portugal

The Portuguese coastal city of Aveiro and its 78,000 inhabitants can pride themselves on two centres of music education, a conservatory for classical studies and a private school for everyone interested in pop, rock and jazz – the Oficina de Música de Aveiro (OMA). OMA’s founder wanted to reach out to everyone in the region with an interest in music, not just a talented few. But the small institution, initially located in a basement, soon needed more space.

Everything was at risk when Fernando Valente, the founder, died. Then José Rodrigues, a graduate of the conservatory known locally as ZéTó, became pedagogical director and invested in the renovation of a building in a quiet zone near the harbour area. Once a pupil, then a teacher, now the pedagogical director, ZéTó built his career in OMA. However, where should the money needed for expansion come from? Thanks to the Portuguese bank BCP MiIlennium, an EIF financial intermediary, he received an EU-supported microloan under the European Commission’s Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme, which is dedicated to microfinance and social entrepreneurship finance.

Apart from the renovation and expansion works, the microloan also helped ZéTó Rodrigues hire teachers and buy new equipment. OMA now employs 15 teachers and has about 150 regular students. Recently, the school has developed special classes for seniors and people with disabilities.