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Social Economy and Roma communities – Challenges and Opportunities

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The situation analysis of the social, economic and legislative environment, performed within the project, aims to provide an overview of the status of social economy within Roma communities in Romania, identifying development opportunities and main challenges in implementing specific social economy initiatives. Thus, the situation analysis report includes information regarding social economy models in Romania, strategies developed by the government institutions and civil society to increase the level of social inclusion of Roma communities in Romania, as well as the obstacles and opportunities associated with developing social economy models.
 
The main objective of this report is to perform a critical assessment of the current status of social economy within Roma communities. The report explores the legal and institutional framework, as well as Romanian social economy experiences for/within Roma communities, taking into account both positive aspects/successful initiatives and obstacles. Based on the analysis of the profile of Roma communities, current policies related to Roma and the instruments used to develop the social economy sector, the report formulates several conclusion and practical recommendations supporting the promotion and development of social entrepreneurship within Roma communities.

Chapter 1 contains a detailed description of the profile of Roma communities in Romania, derived from the analysis of social and demographic data (number of Roma, territorial distribution, age and gender structure, mortality rate). This description underlines the differences between individual and community poverty, the impact of discrimination upon Roma social inclusion and participation on the labor market and the qualification and education level of Roma communities. The chapter also contains a short description of the relevant policies at European and national level, as well as the relevant stakeholders.
Chapter 2 briefly presents social economy in Romania, focusing on the definition of this concept, the history and legislation related to the development of social economy enterprises, social economy entities and main areas of intervention.
Chapter 3 analyzes social economy from the perspective of the current economic context and the multiple vulnerabilities of Roma communities, focusing on the impact of public policies on the social inclusion of Roma, national and international experiences of income generating activities/projects, social economy financing models and the need to correlate social economy with the market.
Chapter 4 presents a number of social economy experiences identified within Roma communities in Romania, along with detailed descriptions of certain specific projects.
The last part presents a number of conclusions and recommendations necessary for a long term development of social economy structures within Roma communities.

 

Guidelines for good practices on setting-up social enterprises for Roma communities

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Why Are These Guidelines Necessary?
The main purpose of these Guidelines is to offer structured information to all of those who want to set-up or develop a social enterprise within/for Roma communities, from the planning phase to putting the idea into practice.
Our goal is to give answers to the questions which challenge anyone who wants to develop a social enterprise within disadvantaged communities:
• What are the features of a social enterprise?
• What type of enterprise can one set-up?
• What are the phases of the process of planning a social enterprise?
• What are the steps one has to go through to set-up a social enterprise?
• What documents are necessary to set-up a social enterprise?
• What is the legal operational framework for social enterprises?
 
To Whom Do These Guidelines Apply
These guidelines apply to all those who intend to set-up or develop a social enterprise within/for Roma communities, among which: members of co-operatives, non-profit organizations (associations and foundations), and mutual aid associations; social entrepreneurs; members of community initiative groups.
They can also be a useful tool for community facilitators, the local public administration, and local economic agents.
 
How to Use These Guidelines
These Guidelines are a useful tool for the steps necessary to set-up a social enterprise. Each chapter answers questions which may arise during such an endeavor, offering also short examples of good practice. In order to easier understand the features of a social enterprise, we began with a clear presentation thereof, followed by the benefits of such an organization, and by the possible impact it may have on the community development process. Planning to set-up a social enterprise means going through certain steps which are described in the simplest manner possible and which include different analysis models which can be used.

 

Business Ideas and Best Practices Compendium
The purpose of this compendium is to put together social enterprise models and best practices developed in Roma communities. The compendium also provides guidance to all those interested in starting or developing successful social enterprises with and for Roma communities, beginig with the strategic thinking and planning stage and continuing with the implementation, monitoring, evaluation and communication stages.
The compendium comprises three main sections: introduction, conclusions and recomendations.

The first chapter begins with the understanding of the definition of social economy and of social economy entities in Romania. It continues with a description of the main features of Roma communities in Romania, focusing on demographics, poverty, education and employment aspects. A significant part of the data in this chapter is based on the research and analysis conducted within the current project “Social economy and Roma communities – challenges and opportunities”.

To facilitate the understanding of the practical aspects of developing social enterprises, the second chapter provides a series of business ideas and best practice examples, as well as a number of case studies. Futhermore, the second chapter presents the challenges met in developing each type of business, the opportunities that can result and the factors that can influence the smooth running of the activities and the meeting of objectives.

To further increase the usefulness of the compendium, the third chapter advances a model for the development of a social economy initiative, a model based on a strategic approach of any initiative, from the moment when objectives are established and activities are planned, up to the moment they are implemented, evaluated and learned from. The third chapter also presents some business ideas and best practices which were less successful, as well as the factors that influenced such outcomes.

 

Social investment and social profit - Timisoara Forum Report 

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Center for Institutional Analysis and Development (CADI - Eleutheria), Government of Romania - Department for Interethnic Relations (DRI), Roma Civic Alliance for Romania (ACRR), and UNDP Romania organized in Timisoara, on 18 September 2012, the regional forum on social economy and Roma communities "Social Investment, Social Profit".

Over the last ten years, various forms of social investment have grown significantly, in Romania. This growth reflects the appearance of a new generation of social entrepreneurs, as well as new opportunities for the provision of social services. However, a similar progress in promoting investments, providing tax incentives and other measures in support of social economy was not recorded.

The Timisoara forum offered the opportunity to create a platform where practitioners, community leaders, policy makers and the business community can interact and share experiences on social profit, economic benefits, investment in social economy, and social enterprise development. The event aimed to discuss one of the fundamental challenges that social entrepreneurs, especially those seeking to work with disadvantaged communities, such as Roma communities, face today: how to persuade investors, who normally invest in profit-oriented businesses, to invest in social ventures that are valuable for the community. Therefore, the forum agenda included two plenary sessions that addressed topics such as the socio-economic profile of the Roma communities from Romania's West Development Region, the advantages of investing in rural and urban disadvantaged communities, what constitutes social profit, what are the main economic returns of a social enterprise, and the main challenges and opportunities in developing social economy at the local level.

The forum also hosted the launch of the "Compendium of Business Ideas and Best Practices". The purpose of this compendium is to put together social enterprise models and best practices developed in Roma communities. The compendium also provides guidance to those interested in starting or developing successful social enterprises with and for Roma communities, beginning with the strategic thinking and planning stage and continuing with the implementation, monitoring, evaluation and communication.

Over 70 actors and promoters of social economy from Romania's West Development Region, representing the governmental sector, civil society, business community and local media, attended the event.

 

Entrepreneurship and Local Development - Tulcea Forum Report 

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Government of Romania - Department for Interethnic Relations (DRI), Center for Institutional Analysis and Development (CADI) and Roma Civic Alliance for Romania (ACRR) with support from UNDP Romania organized in Tulcea, on 21 July 2012, the regional forum "Social economy and Roma communities - entrepreneurship and local development". Over 80 key players in social economy and Roma communities from the South-East region, representing the governmental sector, civil society and business community, attended the event. The forum offered the opportunity for debates and discussions on supporting the local development of disadvantaged communities such as Roma groups from the South-East region of Romania.

The national experience in developing social economy models can contribute to the local development process by replicating good practices and providing direct technical assistance. Therefore, the forum agenda included two plenary sessions that addressed topics such as the socio-economic profile of the Roma communities from the South-East region, the implementation and the optimization of public policies focused on social inclusion of Roma, and the main challenges and opportunities in developing social economy at the local level.

The meeting also hosted the launch of the Report "Social Economy and Roma communities - challenges and opportunities". The study aims to provide an overview of the status of social economy within Roma communities in Romania, by identifying development opportunities and main challenges in implementing specific social economy initiatives. Thus, the report includes information regarding social economy models in Romania, strategies developed by government institutions and civil society that aim to increase the level of social inclusion of Roma communities in Romania, as well as the obstacles and opportunities associated with developing social economy models.

 

Taking social economy for Roma to the market – Bucharest Forum Report

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The Government of Romania – Department for Interethnic Relations (DRI), the Center for Institutional Analysis and Development (CADI) and the Roma Civic Alliance for Romania (ACRR) with support from UNDP Romania organized in Bucharest, on April 11th, 2012, the forum “Taking social economy for Roma to the market”. The event took place within the framework of the project “Social Economy – a solution for the development of Roma communities in Romania”, POSDRU/69/6.1/S/34922.
 
The forum offered practitioners, community leaders, policy makers and the business community the opportunity to have open discussions on the state of social economy for socially disadvantaged groups from Romania (especially the Roma) and the measures needed to pave the way towards future prosperity.
 
Aiming to address the relevance of social economy for the improvement of the socio-economic status of Roma communities from Romania, the agenda included two plenary sessions that addressed topics such as market partners of social enterprises, the relationship between social capital and community development, pricing policies and the replicability of good business ideas. Over 100 participants interacted and shared experiences on developing the market chain for social products and social services, as well as on developing social franchises and a social stock exchange.
 

Rethinking socio-economic policies addressing Roma communities in Romania – Cluj Seminar Report

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The Government of Romania – Department for Interethnic Relations (DRI), the Center for Institutional Analysis and Development (CADI) and Roma Civic Alliance for Romania (ACRR) with support from UNDP Romania held in Cluj-Napoca, on the 26/27 October 2011, at the Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities, the regional seminar on “Rethinking socio-economic policies addressing Roma communities in Romania”.
 
Over 40 participants, including actors and promoters of social economy, civil society organizations, community leaders, researchers, donorsand government officials attended the seminar.
The discussions focused on social economy models for Roma communities in Romania, the success factors in developing social economy models and challenges encountered in the implementation of social initiatives. The llong process for a well-developed legislative and administrative infrastructure to support sustainable socio-economic development were also discussed, and the need for a permanent dialogue between local and national authorities, private sector, civil society and affected communities, clearly emerged from the discussion.
 

Other resources

Strategy of the Government of Romania for the Inclusion of the Roma Citizens belonging to Roma Minority for the period 2012-2020
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