With the help of the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, the Freudenberg Foundation and others, the first Pakiv project developed a training program for 20 young Roma from Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. The training courses lasted two years. In the first year, the young Roma primarily studied business administration and English, Leadership and Management in Hungary, Denmark and Great Britain. They learned how to write an application, draw up a business plan as well as set up and manage a non-profit association. They learned to distinguish between business and civil-society organizations, the “third sector”. The year finished with internships in non-profit organizations and the invitation to submit a practical project proposal for the second year. Every participant was allowed to apply for up to US$15,000.00 for an income-generating project in his hometown or home region. They would receive a small fee for their work as facilitators for the organizations and projects. In addition, travel expenses were covered so that the participants could meet and discuss their experiences as well as support one another. The central project office was set up in Sofia. The Foundation Autonómia provided another office in Budapest.

Thirteen projects were called into life, for example: a cooperative for buffalo-cow breeding, a course for ten hairdressers, a small-credit program, an employment agency for tailors, a job orientation and counseling program for young people, a cooperative for pig breeding, a program to train school assistants, and many more. There were and still are many problems: for example, many Roma wanted to see the outcome of these new programs immediately and didn’t want to wait until a piglet was born or they had learned how to cut hair properly. Nonetheless, all in all, the project ideas met with considerable approval and they are still alive and running one year after the funding was stopped.

A prerequisite for receiving further funding from the World Bank was that Pakiv become a foundation and also receive funds from private persons in Europe. Thus, the Pakiv European Roma Fund was founded as a dependent foundation organized by the association of the same name in Weinheim and Sofia. The donors were seven Roma and non-Roma who donated private funds. In the meantime, the World Bank has commissioned a study about the poverty of the Roma people and organized a conference with the prime ministers of the countries concerned in Budapest. The result confirms the direction in which our projects have been heading: promotion of education, acquisition of job skills, encouraging self-initiative, training and encouraging committed, young Roma: capacity building and leadership training.

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