Cutting the economic costs of prejudice: microfinance services in Roma communities in Bulgaria
Ethnic division, discrimination and poverty are among the factors that prevent marginalized members of the Roma society from fully integrating in Bulgarian society. Microfinance is a tool that can be used to empower these marginalized households to develop a greater sense of solidarity within these communities. Long-term success, however, depends on intentional partnerships with other civil society and government actors who can influence social change. This article describes the experiences of the Alliance for Inclusive Business Development of Roma Communities in Bulgaria project that was implemented by Catholic Relief Services, USAID, USTOI AD and Mikrofond EAD. The project provided microfinance services to Roma community members and showcased their successes. This project was able to demonstrate how certain stereotypes can be overcome for an ethnic group that has suffered years of discrimination throughout Europe, and especially in Bulgaria.
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