Pizza Laganizza – Pizzeria, the Working Space for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers

The project supports refugees and asylum-seekers in Serbia, including refugees and the internally displaced from former Yugoslavia to integrate in Serbia through employment.
Technical & Vocational Education & Training (TVET)

Pizza Laganizza – Pizzeria, the Working Space for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers

The project supports refugees and asylum-seekers in Serbia, including refugees and the internally displaced from former Yugoslavia to integrate in Serbia through employment.
A chef standing with his hands up and smiling, while others clap.

The project in brief

Implemented by

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Balkan Center for Migration and Humanitarian Activities (BCM), Belgrade, Serbia - a local partner. 


Serbia, Europe


October 2019 - Ongoing


The project supports refugees and asylum-seekers in Serbia, including refugees and the internally displaced from former Yugoslavia to integrate in Serbia through employment.

Project aims 

  1. Opening of the pizza shop in Belgrade to hire/train eligible asylum-seekers, refugees and displaced persons
  2. Organizing the training program
  3. Provision of jobs/employment


VIDEO: Beograd: 'Pizza Laganizza' zapošljava izbjeglice i tražioce azila

After the closure of the Balkans route in 2016 and closure of the Hungarian border in March 2017, a large number of migrants and asylum seekers found themselves stranded in Serbia, with minimal or no chance at all, to continue their journey towards Western Europe. According to the Government of Serbia, around 4,000 migrants will stay for long-term in Serbia.

Through this project, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in partnership with the Balkan Center for Migration and Humanitarian Activities (BCM) established a pizza shop to grant beneficiaries an opportunity for additional training and possible employment.

BCM with assistance of UNHCR and The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) organized employment training. The training enables the beneficiaries to widen their skills and improve their position on the job market.

In addition to training, the project brings the possibility of long-term employment for the beneficiaries that completed the training and gained the legal right to work. Formal employment protects refugees and migrants against exploitation such as forced labor, abuses, etc.

Employment brings independence, which is one of the fundamentals of social integration. Large numbers of migrants have been staying in Serbia for a long period (some more than two years) and meeting their basic needs such as food, medicine and accommodation is not enough. The lack of daily tasks evolves into a state of depression, which has negative effects on migrants’ sense of self-worth and the interaction with their family.

The project also aims to overcome prejudices against migrants. Through promoting mutual understanding at the workplace between refugees, IDPs and migrants, the project reduces the risk of discrimination. By encouraging them to develop original recipes typical for their country of origin, the local population gets the opportunity to taste new and exotic foods, learn about traditions of different cultures, which will help change their perspective on migrants, while contributing to a social cause.

Target groups:

  1. Migrants
  2. Refugees
  3. Asylum seekers
  4. Internally Displaced Persons

Resources used 

  • Local law enabling refugees to work in Serbia.
  • Funding from the Government of the United States of America, Latter-Days Saints Charites (LDSC) and the German government.
  • Access to a good location. The pizzeria is located nearby local coffee shops who serve only drinks. The owners of these local coffee shops have an agreement with the pizzeria and order pizzas for their customers.
  • Media. Media provided visibility to the initiative and attracted customers at the start-up phase. The opening was broadcasted by several TV stations.
  • High interest of host community in social entrepreneurship.


  • Balkan Center for Migration and Humanitarian Activities (BCM)
  • Government of the United States of America
  • Latter-Day Saints Charities (LDSC)
  • Deutsche Gesellschaf für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • Belgrade Center for Human Rights
  • NGO Atina – Civic Association for Combating Trafficking in Human and Gender-Based Violence
  • Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

Challenges and how they were overcome

Challenges included administrative procedure for hiring refugees and migrants such as obtaining working permits, training delivery, securing salaries for the staff in the start, etc.

CRS and NGO Balkan Center for Migrations and Humanitarian Activities worked together to secure additional funding to cover necessary running and equipping expenses. Good relationships with the Government facilitated access to work permits.

Results of the Good Practice 

1) Access to employment:

  • Training for 17 people (pizza, equipment and payments).
  • Employment for 4 people. After one month of accompaniment by a senior pizza-maker, all beneficiaries are able to manage their own shift. They produce pizzas, run the cashier and serve clients over the counter. BCM volunteers take turns to monitor and support as needed.

2) Social interaction:

  • Refugees and migrants are no more considered as beneficiaries of humanitarian assistance but active contributors to the local economy.
  • Sense of open community which contributes to changing the perception of Belgrade.

3) Increase in revenues and social interaction facilitate the integration of target beneficiaries.

How the project meets the GCR Objectives

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

This project aims to provide employment opportunities to refugees and migrants. Migrants stay in asylum or refugee accommodation centres in Serbia, fully relying on the support and services provided by the host community – the local government and/or charities or international support organizations. As they find jobs, refugees and migrants find purpose in their lives. With their salaries, they are able to move out of these temporary shelters, they pay their own rent and are able to provide for their family. One beneficiary stated “I can now live on my own place and pay my bills. I have my dignity”.

Why ‘pizzas’? It is a transferable skills and refugees can find jobs in any other locations.

As they work, people start to pay taxes and are less dependent on external assistance.  They become productive members of the society and contribute to the social effort.

Projects as this one help the society become more open. They encourage a culture of respect through building linkages across cultures. They contribute to changing perceptions about refugees and migrants, and creating social links between communities which would have limited interaction otherwise.

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

Improving self-reliance is a gradual process. In this project it starts from day one of the training. Through the training, refugees and migrants gain the technical skills to engage in a productive activity which helps them connect with the host community. Immediately they feel more confident. Instead of waiting countless hours in an asylum or a refugee shelter, they learn a new job, they get access to regular source of income, and they interact positively with host community.

Having a regular work is crucial to getting anybody’s dignity back. Project participants now rely on their own work to provide for their family. They are able to interact with other people, either their colleagues or the customers. This gives them the opportunity to start learning the local language, and the confidence to expand their social network. Through becoming more confident, they are able to engage in positive interactions with their family, friends, and with people they would normally not talk to. They progressively find a place to ingrate in the local community and they get back the sense of ‘normal life’ they lost when they left their country of origin.

Next steps 

The project will continue for the next two years minimum. It is expected that Pizza Laganizza will become sustainable and start making profit within this time frame. Meanwhile BCM is managing the place and recording income, profit and expenses. Production and working hours are based on clients’ preference. The team adapts the production to what people buy the most. Working hours are based on opening of the businesses in the surrounding areas, so that pizzas are ready when people leave their work place. The success of the approach is based on promoting a social entrepreneurship model as well as understanding the preferences of the regular customers.