March 9, 2015

ADRA Gets $2 Million to Turn Young Romanians Into Business Owners

ADRA has received a European Union grant of 2 million euros ($2.16 million) to help young Romanian adults open their own businesses, part of an effort by the Adventist-run organization to give people the tools they need to improve their lives.

Romania’s branch of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency was awarded the non-refundable financing, its first from the EU, for its plan to promote a entrepreneurial culture among 400 young adults.

“This was a breakthrough and a first for ADRA Romania,” said Robert Georgescu, director of ADRA Romania.

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“We rejoice when we think of the many beneficiaries who will gain not only financial support but also advice in choosing and developing a business, benefiting both families and society,” he said in a statement released by the Adventist Church’s Inter-European Division.

The Romanian project will target university students from the ages of 18 to 25 and provide them with counseling, professional training, and assistance in opening independent businesses.

ADRA, which has three local partners in the project, is expected to help establish about 40 companies and create at least 80 new jobs in two regions that the East European country has set aside for business development: South-West Oltenia and Bucharest-Ilfov. The latter region encompasses Romania’s capital and an outlying district.

ADRA submitted its proposal, “Step-by-step in business - Entrepreneurship for youth from the areas of South-West Oltenia and Bucharest-Ilfov” last November and received 83.5 points out of the possible 100. It signed the contract for the financing with the organization SOPHRD (Sectoral Operational Program on Human Resources Development) in February.

“It is an important moment for our agency,” said Valentina Cozorici, project manager for ADRA Romania. “We have been capitalizing on public and private funding opportunities, but European funding had been left unexplored. … We appreciate the trust of the experts in the partnership, in the team, and in the project.”

ADRA may make headlines for its disaster relief efforts such as feeding and clothing people affected by the Ebola virus in West Africa. But its work entails much more.

ADRA International, the organization’s parent organization, has been involved in economic development programs for more than 20 years and headed projects in countries such asMozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Chad in the past five years. ADRA’s country offices have overseen such programs in Peru, Nepal, Bolivia, Philippines, Rwanda, and, most recently, Romania.

“We recognize that when ADRA begins a project, it’s not going to last forever,” said Sonya Funna Evelyn, director for program technical support at ADRA International. “We work directly with communities to help them sustain their own growth. We do this by teaching skills like improved farming practices that can be passed on from farmer to farmer. We increase the access farmers have to buyers and markets and work with farmers groups on how to market their products and best use the income they earn to continue to grow.”

The ADRA network managed 154 economic development programs worth some $20.9 million in 2013, the latest year for which figures are available. The programs assisted 1.2 million people.

“We know from experience and research that people, and women in particular, are more likely to reinvest their earnings into their homes,” Evelyn said by e-mail on Friday. “This increases chances of improved well being for the entire families and by consequence for entire communities. We want to help people reach their full potential.”