Business for Better Life
Country/ Town: Košice – Olšava region, Slovak Republic
Topic: Industrial Ecology




One of the most vulnerable aspects of Roma youth communities can be seen when they need to get a job, mainly because, more often than not, Roma youth lack the employable skills needed nowadays. As a fact, this group of people needs a reliable centre of motivation and reinforcement that can provide them with the means for self-activation and entrepreneurial thinking, thus leading towards a transformation of their community as well. This is true even more when we speak about rural areas, such as Košice – Olšava region, where the projects developed by the Association for a Better Life are located.

The aim

Association for a Better Life was founded in 2004 and its mission is to strengthen the development of Roma marginalized communities in eastern Slovakia. The Association supports rural development in these communities, with an emphasis on personal development such as raising the educational and employability level. Being an active presence in the region of Košice and Olšava since 2004 and also a member of the international network YEPP (Youth Empowerment Partnership Program), the Association for a Better Life is well-aware of the challenges and disadvantages that Roma youth have to face on daily basis. Setting up business initiatives and enabling Roma and non-Roma youth leaders to engage in their community development has thus became their aim and strength, leading in this way towards maintaining a healthy convergence of different cultural and social groups among the present communities.

More precisely, the above mentioned problems are tackled through projects already developed, such as Romani SUV, ROCKS, Wall Art and ECOstorye, all of them enabling young people to discover their own talents while developing products such as: eco – briquettes, embroidered linen bags, herb bags and a tailor workshop – all of them created by Roma youth.



”Business for Better Life” project started in Košice – Olšava region, providing a needed method within the community to motivate skilled young people with the necessary means to start and develop their own business ideas. With the help of collaborating entities, such as municipalities, NGOs and schools, the project created small social enterprises, thus setting the basis for community development. From then on, the Association, which includes Roma youth, can provide those interested with training in creation of business plans and counseling with the implementation of experimental projects, as well as with developing specific business objective. 

Romani SUV project started, also known as Gypsy needle. This project aimed to improve the skills of female students in the craft seamstress, to teach them new techniques, focusing on elements of Roma culture that could be incorporated in evening dresses and costumes. This is how students created a collection of traditional costumes and modern dresses that could be presented in fashion shows.

Business Development strategies caught roots within the community, and two major projects were implemented:

  • Rocks aims to develop the stonemasonry skills of youth who majored in this area. Precisely, a group of students detached from vocational schools in Košice and Rankovce, guided by the experienced mason Ondrej Samel, work with natural stone and produce sidewalks, plinths, mosaics, firestones, fireplaces and benches.
  • Wall ART brings together, under the guidance of the artist Helmut Bistika, a group of artistically gifted girls and boys who create exterior and interior wall paintings that can embellish public and private spaces such as bus stops, school, shops, and private rooms.

Eco-briquettes, stoves and needlework products were developed and now Business for Better Life can proudly offer them and the complementary services to the interested public.

Important people

and resources

Alina Șerban ERSTE Foundation Roma Partnership Coordinator

Helmut Bistika, the guiding artist for the Wall Art program

Julius Pecha, the coordinator of ECOstorye project

Ondrej Samel, the master mason who guides the ROCKS and the ECOstorye project

Municipalities, local NGOs and experts such as ERSTE Foundation, Foundation for children of Slovakia and International women club of Bratislava alongside cooperating organizations including YEPP IRC, Človek v tísni, n.o. Roma media- ROMED, Projekt DOM.ov, Útočište, o.z.


The Association for a Better Life was nominated for the Roma Spirit Award, category of non-profit organizations (December 2016);

Establishing a workshop for the production of eco-briquettes that enables a constant production and assures the development of the product as well as providing work for the interested youth from the community;

Establishing a needlework workshop for the Romani SUV project, which comes to compliment the expansion of products, the business creation and the marketing plan;

Building a community garden which became a public space for Roma people;

Enabling Roma and non-Roma activists, youngsters, who are independent in their small businesses to be active and involved inside and outside of their communities represents one of the biggest and dearest achievement of the project, so far;


Instability of partners involved in projects

For example the availability of proper spaces to rent in order to assure a healthy and constant project development;

The process of creating a separate social enterprise

Is seen as an ongoing route that has to be permanently fueled with work and involvement, despite the initial success of the business initiative.


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