On 19th November 2013, MCIC, the Municipality of Shuto Orizari and Roma Business Informative Center have organized the Conference for Use of IPA Funds for Roma Communities and the Eight Roma Economic Business Forum.
There are many possibilities, programmed funds and government programs that can be used as a support for the Roma Community. Unfortunately, the implementation of the programs is slow and the funds are not effectively used by the Roma people. It is also arguably if those that are used go directly for the Roma community. These were part of the conclusions of the Conference and the Business forum. The discussions resulted in several suggestions. There is a need of better inclusion of the Roma people in funds management, improvement of the competitiveness and the collaboration of the civil society organizations and participating in the state budget as systematically as possible. Apart from that, the entrepreneurs on local level need facilitation by the local self government.
On the opening of the Conference attendees were addressed by Fatmir Besimi-Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, Robert Liddell of the Delegation of the European Union, Ibrahim Ibrahimi-Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy and Srdjan Shajn-member of the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia.
Besimi said that Macedonia is the country that supported the Decade of Roma and it is a part of it and also reminded of what is programmed in IPA funds for Roma and supported projects. Robert Liddell of the Delegation of the European Union noted that the support for Macedonia from EU is about 100 million euros per year or 2% from state budget. He also added that one part of these funds are earmarked for Roma.
On the Conference there was a discussion about the funding of projects for the Roma community through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), and the use of other available funds including the state budget of the Republic of Macedonia. Also there was a discussion about the involvement of municipalities in the programming of IPA and the capacity and role of Roma organizations in this process, not only in Macedonia but also in the region and the EU.
Aleksandar Krzhalovski, the first executive director of MCIC in his presentation said that there is a need of a greater coordination for Roma civil organizations, greater participation of Roma in the programming of funds and a greater focus on state budget. Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy- Ibrahimi noted that have been made great strides for the Roma community, but there is still a space for new activities. According to him, there is a need of bigger inclusion of Roma in active employment measures. "Roma should accept to work against receiving social help (welfare)”-he said, "that's one of the ways to get out of poverty."
For Nadir Redzepi, Project Manager at the Open Society Foundation in Budapest, requires a greater focus on small businesses. According to his opinion, soon will be made available eight billion euros at the European level designed for youth employment. "Roma need to organize and they should use these funds," he said. For Redzepi, the output is in the strengthening of human resources. "There are Funds, maybe even too much, but our performance must be greater. We need new contents, new ideas and greater responsibility from everybody, "said Redzepi.
In the second part the focus was on social entrepreneurship and the possibility of social enterprises to include Roma in labor market. Ivana Stoshik-the director of business incubator in Vranje shared the experience of her work in this business incubator which operates since 2006 and has already yielded results. Also the Mayor of Shuto Orizari spoke for business opportunities and perspectives of the municipality in this regard. The audience was addressed by the President of the International Union of Roma-Dorin Chaba from Romania.-”You must be happy that you have representatives in Parliament and Government ”- he told his colleagues from Macedonia, “You should learn us how to achieve it”.
The objective was to contribute to the definition of the next programming period IPA 2 for the period 2014-2020 and to actualize the issue of Roma integration, particularly economic integration.
The Conference is a part of the initiative -Making the most of EU funds for Roma (MtM), supported by the Open Society Foundation, Budapest. The initiative is active in nine countries involved in the Decade of Roma, and is implemented with the help of local partners (in Macedonia local partners are MCIC and InSoC ).