North Macedonia starts fund for poverty-stricken Roma

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia’s government launched a 2.5 million euro ($3 million) development fund Friday to support Roma-owed businesses and job agencies to assist the poverty-stricken community.

The project aims to provide easier access to business loans, coaching and business development services to try and draw Roma community members away from the country’s unofficial underground economy.

Roma make up about 2.6% of North Macedonia’s 2 million people but their businesses are frequently denied loans due to a lack of collateral or credit history.

International organizations say North Macedonia is being hard hit by the pandemic due to a loss of employment and drop in remittances, with the Roma community disproportionately affected.

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