SOFIA (Bulgaria), April 14 (SeeNews) - The European Commission said that it is backing an initiative to provide 4.65 million euro ($5.1 million) in financing to bolster entrepreneurship and spur job creation in Roma communities in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and North Macedonia.
The funds, which will come from the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI), will be channelled under a guarantee agreement between the European Investment Fund (EIF) and Luxembourg-based organisation REDI Economic Development SA (REDI), the EC said in a statement on Tuesday.
Through what is the first EU financial instrument designed to directly support Roma communities, funds will be made to finance over 300 small businesses and aid the creation of at least 1,000 jobs. The eligible recipients will be micro-enterprises operating in marginalised Roma communities and which could get loans of up to 25,000 euro each.
"The EU-funded EaSI programme will help address persisting discrimination in the European Union, and allow entrepreneurs from marginalised Roma communities to fulfil their business ambitions," Nicolas Schmit, EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, said.
Under the guarantee agreement, REDI will also offer technical assistance to entrepreneurs to support outreach to Roma communities and assist with specific business development needs.
The instrument is seen as a potential tool for generating a new market segment for specialist financial institutions.
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