Sida is supporting a project for small start-up businesses to encourage socio-economic empowerment among vulnerable groups and minorities.
To create greater access to the labour market for vulnerable groups, Sida is supporting a project through the German non-governmental organisation Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe. The project started in 2014 and is supported by Sida in collaboration with ten towns and municipalities in Serbia.
The goal of the project is to encourage socio-economic empowerment through providing assistance towards self-sufficiency, thus sustaining policies for integration and inclusion of vulnerable population groups in Serbia. The project has a specific focus on Roma youth and women since their participation in the formal labour market remains very low.
Participants are supported through in-kind grants, meaning that they receive equipment for their businesses rather than cash grants. In addition, participants obtain training, mentoring and advisory services to achieve sustainability and create new perspectives. Consequently, the project will facilitate poverty reduction and the implementation of local sustainable development strategies.
In Pozarevac, one of the small-towns Sida cooperates with, the municipality is fighting high unemployment rates and limited capacity for creating job opportunities. The municipality has a local action plan for the inclusion of vulnerable population groups aligned with the national strategy on Roma. Representatives of the municipality say that one of the biggest priorities is to integrate marginalised groups in the labour market through self-employment.
A business plan led to a new hair salon
Lidija Mihajlovic gives evidence of a tough labour market, where municipalities outside of bigger cities suffer from unemployment and poverty. Lidija’s husband Slobo Mihajlovic lost his job as a hairdresser of 18 years and the couple depended on benefits to support their family. When Lidija first heard about the project in spring 2015, she submitted a business plan and received the essential equipment for opening a hair salon.
Since June 2015 she runs a small salon where her husband provides his services to a growing number of satisfied customers. Within the project, Lidija attended business training and she is determined to expand her business.
- We are a big family of eight people. Our living conditions have improved a lot through the project, but I would like to involve my family in the business to increase profit and make our financial situation more stable, Lidija says.
Another participant in the project is Dragan Jevtic, a dog-loving 30-year old pet groomer. He was working as an assistant in a groomer’s salon in Belgrade for three years, but his earnings were not sufficient to support his family. After finishing groomer’s training in 2014, he returned to Pozarevac and learned about the Sida funded project for start-up businesses. Through the project Dragan could combine his two interests and open a groomer’s salon for dogs.
- The opening of the salon has changed my life. I have been given a chance to work with my passion and can finally support my family, Dragan says.
Dragan’s idea was unique, interesting and clearly defined. Through the project, he completed an additional three-months training to become a certified pet groomer. Dragan’s business idea really met the market needs in Pozarevac as he is booked for weeks in advance. He even had to employ his brother to meet the demands.
With Sida’s support Help can continue their work with the inclusion of Roma and other marginalised and vulnerable population groups into the labour market, contributing to reduced poverty and improved living conditions.