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Economic Development - Key Issue in Local Development


Many of the existing social problems affecting children and their families, from poor housing conditions to early school leaving or health issues, are linked, directly or indirectly, to poverty. Thus, it is difficult to imagine that we can solve, on long term, the social problems in a community without working also on its economic development.

Unfortunately, most organisations and people working in the social field lack the skills or expertise to address economic issues, the general mentality opposing non-profit social work to for-profit economic activities.

In reality, both are sides of the same coin: the well-being of people. On long term we cannot have social development without the economic one, while economic development always lags when there is no social development.

As such, Terre des hommes Romania introduced in 2016 a new economic development component in the „zefiR” programme which it coordinates. „zefiR” is an integrated programme dedicated to Roma inclusion in 12 small communities from three counties from the South of Romania – Dolj, Olt and Gorj and has already included education, health, community development and housing components. „zefiR” has started in 2013 and is co-funded by a grant from Switzerland through the Swiss Contribution to the enlarged European Union.

While it is impossible to alleviate poverty at community level in a few years, zefiR will create models of economic development by supporting 28 entrepreneurs from Roma and other vulnerable groups by means of trainings, consultancy, facilitation, mentoring and grants. Thus, the project will show how small businesses can grow even in small and vulnerable communities, but also uncover the existing challanges and explore how they be countered.

Following a complex selection and training programme, 28 entrepeneurs were selected from over 150 applications and received over 130.000 CHF in financial support from the three project partners: Terre des hommes Foundation, PACT Foundation and NESsT Foundation Romania. Most supported businesses are in the agricultural sector due to the profile of the communities in the programme, but the programme also supports businesses in the fields of metal work, construction or lumber production.

More information is available in Romanian on project's website and Facebook page Facebook at