Network A Facilitating access and return to the labour market for those who have difficulty in being integrated or reintegrated into a labour market which must be open to everyone.
Project name Initiative for the Development of Roma Entrepreneurship Partnership – Kxetanes
Project number A0211

Project description

The objective of the Partnership is to ensure social integration and equal labour market opportunities for the Roma community in Poland. The Partnership is administered by Małopolska Higher School of Economics and is composed of partners who possess various complementary hands-on knowledge: they are aware of specific nature of the Roma community, have a good knowledge of the needs of the local and domestic labour market and have previous experience in development and implementation of similar projects.

Direct beneficiaries of the Project are two groupings of the Roma population in the area of Nowy Targ (Polish Roma) and Nowy Sącz/Maszkowice region (the Carpathian Bergitka). The Romas are a dysfunctional group in social and economic terms. Due to a low level of education (primary school drop-outs, primary and vocational school graduates), a lack of vocational skills and poor knowledge of the Polish language they are seriously exposed to the risk of long-term unemployment. A long-term reliance on welfare benefits as a chief source of income leads to learned helplessness, demanding attitudes and inheritable unemployment.

Roma performance on the labour market is further hampered by public prejudice (the "Gypsy" stereotype). As a result, employers are reluctant to hire them. Roma people complain about discrimination at public institutions and everyday intolerance. Mental attitude of the beneficiaries themselves is another problem: they are not accustomed to one type of business activity, a single workplace, while traditional patriarchal family model does not encourage occupational empowerment of women.

Project partners have drafted a Local Partnership Model to ensure involvement of local institutions into development of occupational integration methodology that would take into account specific needs of the Roma community. Counselling methodology was worked out and tailored training events proposed, including vocational training and self-employment courses (in marketing, accounting, business management and computer literacy).

According to surveys carried out under Activity 1, the Roma people possess a huge potential to be drawn upon: household services and artistic talents in the case of women, while men are potentially excellent construction/repair workers, caterers and musicians. They are competitive in traditional crafts (tailoring, zinc coating, metal craftwork, music performance, embroidery and commerce). These goods and services are much sought after today and may well prove useful for highlighting the region's local colour.

The Partnership is addressing its activities to those beneficiaries who have declared their will to participate in the Project and signed a declaration of access. The offer includes counselling, vocation training, self-employment and information technology courses (with Internet as a source of information and communication channel), as well as training in lobbying for improvement in the status of Roma people. Upon expiration of Partnership term, the group of active members will continue to perform on the labour market and mini-enterprises will be established providing jobs for other members of the Roma community. New or improved skills are likely to motivate the beneficiaries to adopt a new lifestyle and enhance their self-reliance, while business activities may improve the image of Roma people as employees, entrepreneurs and neighbours.

A Roma Centre of Occupational Integration and Development will be established under the Partnership to serve as enterprise incubator, providing advice on accounting, information technology, marketing, distribution and logistics to Roma people and the entire local community. At the same time the Centre will be their first employer: it will survive the Partnership and its staff members will receive training in fund raising methods. Furthermore, the Roma Occupational Initiative for the Development of Roma Entrepreneurship Integration Forum will be established to lobby for the Project, provide technical advice, promote social dialogue, coordinate local, national and international cooperation and undertake promotional activities. The concept of the Project will be disseminated using a website that will facilitate exchange of information with foreign partners. A Project Base presenting good practice, case studies and methodology guidelines will be available. International profile of the Partnership will encourage cooperation with Roma minorities abroad. Potential employers will receive a brochure with pertinent information, while lessons learned and achievements of the Partnership will be the subject of a publication headed Solving Roma Minority's Labour Market Problems.