EU support to the economic recovery of victims of human trafficking

In the framework of the project ” Supporting economic empowerment of victims of human trafficking through social enterprise Bagel Bejgl”, conducted by the Association of Citizens “Atina”, economic empowerment of victims of human trafficking through the development of a social enterprise Bagel Bejgl is enabled. This project was supported by the European Union with EUR 82,184.46, while project implementers managed to obtain another EUR 16,405.34 through co-financing.

The Association Atina wanted this project to answer two important issues. The first one concerned the lack of adequate support for the development of social entrepreneurship in the country, and this project has served as one of the most important advocacy, but also entrepreneurial initiatives in the Republic of Serbia, especially female entrepreneurship, taking into account the free movement, lack of legislative framework, lack of support for further development. The second problem concerned the inability of women, especially those from hard-to-employ categories (including women victims of trafficking, gender-based violence, as well as asylum seekers) to more easily and better access to training in social entrepreneurship, learning specific skills, and access to wider labor market and further employment.

With the help of this grant, CA Atina managed to maintain and to upgrade Bagel Bejgl’s social enterprise. Expanding the scope of work, enhancing production capacity and facilitating better and easier access to training for women from hard-to-reach categories answered the second problem. Also, by designing and conceiving the Vocational Training Program for Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings and all forms of violence against women as a unique form of support, UG Athens has managed to develop and improve the support system for victims of trafficking in human beings. This is the first such program intended for victims of human trafficking in our country. The project has contributed the most to the development and improvement of the capacity of the social enterprise Bagel Bejgl, creating a network of various organizations and companies in support of the reintegration of the victim of trafficking through their inclusion in the labor market. (for example, cooperation with Hayat hotel, Royal kids sports club, etc.)

CA Atina regularly performs satisfaction assessments with the services it provides, which has been done within this initiative. After a training session of 30 beneficiaries, 22 stated that this was the first time they had the opportunity to see one working day. Particularly interesting were the decorating of the beagle during the catering, where they were able to express their creativity, as well as communication with customers. The specificity of working with victims of trafficking in human beings is reflected in the fact that many of them have never had the opportunity to be somewhat engaged in the work, gaining working habits, and this further reduced the motivation in the search for work. Most of them pointed out that in these trainings, for the first time, they heard some details that significantly influence the acquisition and retention of work, such as CV writing, oral presentation to employers, and leaving a good impression on the visual level.

The change expected in the future is the licensing of economic empowerment programs for victims of human trafficking and all forms of violence, which would compensate for the lack of institutional support and programs for vocational training and employment of this vulnerable category of society. Also, the adoption of the Law on Social Entrepreneurship would be of great benefit in order to improve the legal and financial framework for the functioning of social enterprises.

During the realization of the project, specific synergies, better understanding of not only this business, understanding of the work in general, catering work with the parties, were created among our beneficiaries. As most women victims of trafficking in our country are very young, many of them were the first opportunity to empower they, gain experience, work to increase their resources in an environment that is supportive, sensible, without prejudice and additional arrivals with which they often meet.

The project is implemented under the grant scheme “Development of efficient services in community areas of education and social welfare at the local level”. This grant scheme with a budget of 5.5 million euros, finances project activities for 30 beneficiaries and covers local self-government, civil society organizations, and relevant institutions at the local level aimed for the promotion of social entrepreneurship and for preventing the dropout children from the school system in Serbia. The project also aims to increase the capacities of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs in the management of the grant scheme, as well as to guide and modernize the process of drafting the Strategy for Social Welfare and other innovative regulatory mechanisms in the field of social policy.