Promoting Access to Productive Employment for Marginalized Roma

June 13, 2014

A new initiative aims to help improve the socio-economic integration of Roma in Eastern Europe.

World Bank Group

An innovation lab has brought together policy makers and experts to learn first hand from the experience of the Spanish Roma inclusion program Acceder and to identify ways to improve inclusion in labor markets for marginalized Roma in seven Eastern European nations. The pilot initiative aims at creating a forum to build capacity in order to improve the socio-economic integration of Roma.

For Mabera Kamberi, a Macedonian official, and member of her country’s Roma community, education is key to integration of this traditionally marginalized group.

" Our challenges are because most of the Roma… are too often not finishing elementary school, and they are not competitive in the labor market. "

Mabera Kamberi

Head of the Department for Cooperation and Technical Assistance, and Focal Point for Roma Issues in FYR Macedonia.


Roma children

Photo: World Bank Group

Kamberi was speaking recently in Madrid, on the sidelines of a pilot initiative aimed at creating a forum to improve integration of Roma.

The initiative gathered Kamberi and other policy makers from seven different Eastern European nations, where integrating Roma populations has long been problematic.  

Representatives from Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia met with international experts, on the premises of Fundacion Secretariado Gitano, a Spanish NGO known for its successes in providing Spain’s Roma community access into opportunities in mainstream society.

The knowledge sharing event was part of the Roma Inclusion Mobile Innovation Lab, a pilot initiative funded by the World Bank’s Innovation challenge which focuses on creating and sharing the strategies that can help integrate marginalized Roma, particularly through improved access to productive employment.

At the three-day Madrid workshop, participants were presented with - and debated - the potential of applying in their Eastern European countries some of the social integration strategies for vulnerable groups which have met with success in other parts of the world, including Latin America.

" From these presentations there is a lot of good skills, a lot of good practices, and I am very sure there is a lot of things that you can apply in our country as well. "

Barbora Vavrova

Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Family, Slovak Republic


Roma family

Photo: World Bank Group

In addition to helping better design country-specific solutions for labor market integration of Roma, participants at the hands-on workshop said the exchange of knowledge had also allowed them to better identify the continued challenges - and opportunities - of Roma communities in their different regions.

" We heard and learned many useful things and for example we realized that in Serbia we must provide a comprehensive package of employment services and social services and to develop an integrated service system, especially for Roma people.  "

Natasa Ivanovic

National Employment Service in the Republic of Serbia.

Participants at the Madrid workshop agreed that this innovative knowledge sharing activity - part first-hand experience, part learning from global good practices, and part interactive work - is a good beginning to further the development of policies and programs to improve the integration of marginalized Roma.

For more about the World Bank's work with Roma, visit:

€887 million to €2.9 billion
The potential annual economic benefits from equalizing labor market earnings for Roma in Romania.
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