The Roma minority are often associated with various negative stereotypes. They tend to be viewed as lazy, dirty or even criminals by the majority of the population. At the same time, because of the disadvantaged backgrounds they often come from, there is high unemployment among the Roma people. Social enterprises of the Roma help fight stereotypes, link the minority and the majority, and give self-confidence and jobs to the minority.
An association of young Roma have launched a laundry and ironing service, United Colors. The social enterprise is run by the community centre in Valaska, in central Slovakia. In 2016, it won a prize for the best social enterprise. The laundry and ironing service creates opportunities for increasing employment and minority access to a regular income and reducing poverty and social exclusion. Through work and education, its clients discover their skills and qualities, build self-confidence and learn to take responsibility for their lives. Currently, around twenty people are employed in the Multifunctional Community Centre in Valaska, near Brezno.
United Colors do not provide their services in Valaska only; in 2016 they came to Pohoda, the biggest summer music festival in Slovakia. The visitors to the festival were surprised when they first saw the laundry and ironing service. However, as soon as the initial surprise was overcome, people went there to wash their clothes. Customers talked with the employees and were interested in finding more about this intriguing project. Some visitors to the festival even offered financial or other support. The initiative is non-conflicting, positive and connecting rather than dividing. Through social enterprises, young Roma successfully fight social insecurity. http://www.youngroma.sk/kontakt/