The Yeast grows, the business thrives: How Dragana’s baking business supports her returnee family reintegration | WeBalkans | EU Projects in the Western Balkans

The Yeast grows, the business thrives: How Dragana’s baking business supports her returnee family reintegration

How Regional Returnee Reintegration Project, implemented by UNDP and funded by the EU is helping vulnerable returnees build a better future back home.


In Novi Sad’s Night Bazaar, Dragana, a Roma baker, and her mother work at their stall, making sourdough bread. This market happens twice a month, where local people like Dragana sell their goods.


Dragana didn’t plan to start a business. She learned to bake to support her family when they couldn’t find jobs. “Baking sourdough is like doing maths. It needs careful planning and the right conditions,” Dragana explains. Her skills in making bread are helping her family.



The bakery brought hope when moving away from Serbia felt like the only choice. Many people in the Western Balkans move to other countries for work, including Dragana’s family members.  But after a time in Germany, her family came back.  Her family’s return experience made Dragana want to build a future in Serbia, a future that would also welcome her family  back to their hometown.


The Regional Returnee Reintegration Project has helped Dragana a lot. Thanks to the project, Dragana is making her bakery official and hopes to involve her whole family.  This regional project is run by the UNDP with the EU’s support is active in three WB countries: Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia.  In Serbia,  in three partner municipalities, this project is helping vulnerable returnees build a better future back home.

“I want to include my family in the business,” she says with hope. “My mother will join first, and maybe my brother later. It’s more than just making money; it’s about working together as a family.”


Dragana’s bakery is setting an example in her community. It shows how a family can use their skills and work together to succeed.


The Night Bazaar in Novi Sad shows the importance of local markets. They help people sell what they make, grow their businesses, and bring people together. Dragana’s bakery stand, with its fresh bread, is more than just a place to buy food. It stands for hard work, new starts, and a better future for people returning to Serbia.


The EU and UNDP’s Reintegration of Returnees project is a big help. It’s making it easier for Dragana and others to get the training and support they need to grow their businesses. This is helping Dragana to not just run a bakery, but to bring her family into it. They hope to make a successful business that can offer jobs to other people coming back to Serbia, too.


Dragana and her relatives have a vision. They want to turn their love for baking into a business that supports the family and shares their tradition.


The bakery has brought hope to Dragana’s family. It’s a chance for them to stay in Serbia and be part of their community. The UNDP and EU are helping them to do this.


Dragana is excited to work with her family. Starting with her mother and maybe her brother later, they plan to grow the business. It’s not just about selling bread; it’s about making a life they can share.


Dragana’s story is about never giving up. Her bakery is becoming a symbol of hope for her community, showing that a family’s history and goals can come together and succeed.


Novi Sad’s Night Bazaar is a place where people like Dragana can share what they make. Her bakery stand, with its fresh bread, is a sign of hard work and new beginnings. It shows that people who come back to their country can make a good future for themselves.

About the project

The Reintegration of Returnees in the Western Balkans project is focused on addressing key barriers for socio-economic reintegration of vulnerable returnees in the Western Balkans.  The project is part of the EU Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) II Multi-Country Action, EU support to Fundamental Rights of Roma Community, and Reintegration of Returnees, entrusted to UNDP, World Bank, and the Council of Europe.   In all Western Balkan economies, the project assesses policy and institutional gaps and facilitates a dialogue on mechanisms for implementation and monitoring of reintegration policies and programmes. In Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia, the project implements local level programmes and tests innovative solutions for sustainable socio-economic reintegration of returnees.


Find out more:

Reintegration of returnees in the Western Balkans project

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