Bridge to Business

Bridge to Business[1] aims to strengthen and establish the middle class among the representatives of the Roma community. The Programme bridges the private sector labor market and the educated Roma striving for quality jobs in fair environment.

The main objective of the Programme is to facilitate the access to qualified young people of Roma origin[2] (aged 18-35), who have at least high school education and passed their school-leaving exams, to highly qualified positions in the private sector that correspond to their education and qualification. Statistics show that such jobs are usually not accessible to the Roma even if they meet the respective requirements.

The Programme will cover at least 150 young people with completed high school or university education of different regions of the country with a focus on university centers, rural areas and regions with predominantly Roma population. The Programme will provide participants with an integrated and customized service, including:

  • career guidance;
  • assistance in contacting employees who showed interest in the initiative;
  • various trainings depending on the needs of the participants;
  • mentorship after employment.

It will focus on building the capacity of young people to identify appropriate employment opportunities, as well as to know employees’ rights in various private companies, to develop their confidence and ambitions.

An important component of Bridge to Business is the prevention of the early school leaving of high school students. The Programme offers mentor support to students of Roma origin in the last two years of high school. Depending on the individual needs of the young people, the Programme will provide supplementary activities for them to pass the graduation exams, will organize motivating public events, meetings with representatives of business organizations, visits and meetings with representatives of universities, successful representatives of the Roma community, etc.

At the same time, Bridge to Business is going to work in close cooperation with representatives of the private business interested in investing in educated and qualified young people of Roma origin. The Programme will assist the companies participating in the initiative in developing selection and recruitment concepts for representatives of vulnerable groups, as well as rules for internal communication to integrate employees in terms of the Programme objectives.

As a result of the three-year Bridge to Business Programme recommendations will be made to the policies of the public employment services so they could adapt to the needs of the group of relatively educated employees of Roma origin. Bridge to Business will draw up proposals for such policies also to future employers who are interested in developing similar Roma employment initiatives.

For more information about Bridge to Business, please visit the website of the Programme

[1] Bridge to Business Project – An Initiative for Improving the Access of Young People of Roma Origin to Employment in the Private Sector of Bulgaria and Hungary, VS/2016/0236 funded by the EU Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) Programme 2014-2020. The project is implemented by Open Society Institute – Sofia in partnership with Autonomia Foundation (Hungary) and the Central European University (Hungary).

[2] In compliance with the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies and the National Strategy of the Republic of Bulgaria for Roma integration 2012-2020 (adopted on March 1, 2012 by decision of the National Assembly), the Programme uses the designation Roma in general both for Bulgarian citizens in vulnerable socio-economic situation who determine themselves as Roma, and for  citizens in a similar situation whom others determine as such, regardless of their self-determination.