RS-MK cross-border initiative on opportunities for economic empowerment tailored to 5 municipalities in Serbia and North Macedonia

In order to contribute to economic empowerment and employment opportunities for the rural population of the municipalities of Lebane, Vlasotince and Surdulica in Serbia, and Kumanovo and Staro Nagoričane in North Macedonia, NALED - in partnership with the “Ruža” Women's Association from Lebane, "MIR" Foundation for Management and Industrial Development from Skopje and the Civil Center "AktivUm" Association for Activism, Education, Culture and Art from Kumanovo, is implementing the “Fit for the needs - Raise opportunities for underdeveloped areas” project.

With the support of the European Union (IPA II Serbia-North Macedonia Cross-Border Cooperation Program), NALED and partners, in cooperation with key stakeholders on both sides of the border (representatives of municipalities, business community, civil society and rural populations), will map the municipalities’ resources and potentials, identify sectors that have development potential and households and individuals from rural areas in order to map their needs and potential for preparation and/or better positioning in the (labor) market, on the basis of which the following will be defined:

- a set of financial and non-financial incentive measures for (self-) employment from the local budget, and

- direct project resources (professional, educational and study support), tailored to selected individuals from rural areas (with a focus on women and youth).

NALED and their partners Ruža, MIR Foundation and AktivUm, initiated consultations with management and employees from departmental units of 5 municipalities relevant to the project, and consultations with key stakeholders - representatives of tourism organizations, associations in the field of cultural heritage and tradition, agricultural production and processing, traditional crafts and handicrafts, rural/agro tourism.

Between June 29-30 and July 1, 2021 - representatives of NALED and the “Ruža” partner organization, held introductory and initial consultations with the mayors of Surdulica (PhD Aleksandra Popovic), Vlasotince (Bratislav Petrović) and Lebane (Ivan Bogdanović) on which the strategic directions of development of municipalities and sectors, as well as local products with potential for (further) development for which it is (potentially) necessary to define measures related to (self-) employment opportunities were considered. More detailed consultations were conducted with the management and employees in the municipal units and consultations with some representatives of key stakeholders regarding mapping of resources and potentials of municipalities, resources and potentials of the sectors and local products, and potential target groups from rural areas.

At the same time, representatives of the MIR Foundation and AktivUM partner organizations held introductory and initial consultations with the Mayor of Kumanovo (Maksim Dimitrievski), and the management of the Sector for European Integration and Local Economic Development (June 29, 2021), where they also discussed strategic directions for the municipalities’ development, needs and potential.

During the summer, NALED and partners will continue the mapping process and consult with representatives of the three sectors (key stakeholders) and representatives of households and individuals in potential development sectors, which will be a prerequisite for the next phase of defining incentives and selecting and providing direct support to rural populations on both sides of the border.

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