The First Incentive Fund for People with Disabilities in Serbia was established in Kragujevac

Today in Kragujevac, the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation, the City of Kragujevac and the Regional Agency for Economic Development of Šumadija and Pomoravlja, with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), established the first Incentive Fund for the economic empowerment of persons with disabilities in Serbia. The launch of the fund will enable financial support for people with disabilities who want to start their own business, but also for employers who employ people with disabilities and want to improve their business with quality staff.

“Today, together with the City of Kragujevac, as part of the "Job Fit" project, we established an incentive fund from which people with disabilities, employers and companies that employ people with disabilities will be able to use more than 2 million dinars to start or improve their business. In the next 12 months, it is planned to establish another such Fund in Serbia, in which USAID will invest funds. Together with the local governments, through the project we will provide support worth over 4.3 million dinars for the empowerment of persons with disabilities and their employers," said Đorđe Boljanović, project manager at the USAID mission in Serbia.

The fund with a total value of $20,000 was established by investing $12,500 from USAID through the Ana and Vlada Divac Foundation and $7,500 from the City. Users will be able to apply for financial support through a competition that will be announced in June 2024.

"As a city, we are really aware of the importance of this topic and in recent years we have worked a lot in this field. Through all the measures we have implemented in the last few years, we can boast that almost 700 people with disabilities have been removed from the records of the National Employment Service, through self-employment or through employment in certain companies. We really owe a lot of gratitude to the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation for recognizing the need for this fund and for being ready to establish this first incentive fund in Serbia with the Regional Agency and the city of Kragujevac, and I am really sure that other local governments will also recognize the importance of this," said Dejan Ružić, Deputy Mayor of the City of Kragujevac.

The funds are designed so that the users return the funds to them within a period of 3 years, which makes them self-sustaining.  That way, in the future, other users will also have the opportunity to apply and improve their businesses with the help of these funds.

"Through the four-year project "Job Fit", together with our partners we are successfully working to encourage the employment and self-employment of persons with disabilities, through campaigns, various trainings, workshops, programs of work practices and providing support in employment through the portal for employment of persons with disabilities This innovative Fund is another step towards a more inclusive society and the creation of equal opportunities for all citizens, and all users will receive significant mentoring support in addition to financial resources," said Ana Koeshall, director of the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation, adding that the Foundation, with the support of of USAID, has been establishing such Funds for various target groups for years, and this mechanism has proven to be very successful and, above all, necessary.

"It's always a pleasure to start planning something new and innovative. The city of Kragujevac promptly responds to all initiatives, and what is happening in connection with employment and support for people with disabilities is not an ad hoc matter, but a strategic decision of the city. The creation of the fund itself has the potential for a multiplying effect, so that what is being created today can be increased," said Nenad Popović, director of the Regional Agency for Economic Development of Šumadija and Pomoravlje.

The incentive fund was established with the support of USAID as part of the "Job Fit: Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities" project, which aims to create equal access to employment for persons with disabilities and encourage a more open and inclusive labor market in Serbia. It is conducted by the Forum of Youth with Disabilities with partners Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation, Caritas of Serbia, Smart Collective and the Center for Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities of Serbia.

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