Social Economy and Roma Inclusion: the Current Situation and Development Perspectives

Coperta-CRPE-Ale-212x300CRPE Policy Memo 72, Authors: Alexandra Toderiţă, Oana Ganea.

Over the last 27 years, numerous initiatives supporting the development of Roma entrepreneurship have been funded in Romania with the stated aim of reducing socioeconomic disparities between the majority and the Roma minority. In 2011, data collected from a regional survey, conducted by the European Agency for Human Rights, UNDP, the World Bank, and the European Commission, shows that one in three Roma are employed and paid. It is crucial to take into account that approximately 90% of the Roma live in households where the income per household member is below the national poverty line. In terms of education, study data shows that almost 25% of Roma children aged 7 to 15 living in Romania do not go to school and less than 15% of 20 to 24-year-old Roma have completed their secondary education or Vocational school, a key condition for accessing higher education and the labour market. Thus, the Roma encounter the combined coercion of two vicious circles that reinforce each other: on the one hand, the low level of education and poverty, and on the other, social distance and segregation.

Therefore, measures related to social economy and social entrepreneurship can constitute a source of development for any community, especially in those where poverty and social exclusion are leading components, labour market integration opportunities often being reduced. The expansion of marginalized communities is the threat that these social enterprises face. They need opportunities and appropriate measures in order to provide the economic subsistence of the community and social development. Social entrepreneurship plays an important role not only in the professional (re)integration of people from disadvantaged and discriminated groups, but also in connecting these people to the community and vice versa. Also, raising community awareness regarding the valuable resources that can be capitalized and integrated in its socioeconomic life is for the mutual benefit.

This report aims at summarising the process of “mapping” the social enterprises set up in Romania. Also, it evaluates the sustainability and the prospect of welfare in these communities. Going beyond the economic subsistence of these disadvantaged communities, it is the development of the community, and the values and aspirations of people that must constitute the purpose of social enterprises. We have had some successful cases in this field and a substantial number of social enterprises that have failed. Thus, based on fieldwork and interviews with both SES representatives and central authorities, the report provides a first accurate picture of what has been done in Romania in this field, offering the opportunity to transfer knowledge and best practices and, at the same time, to improve unsatisfactory results.


This policy memo is published within the “Social Economy and Roma Inclusion: Current Situation and Development Perspectives” project, funded by the Open Society Institute.