• office@redi-ngo.eu

REDI NGO REDI is the first network of non-profit organizations with a unique focus on facilitating access to finance for Roma entrepreneurs in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

It is currently formed from 3 distinct non-profit organizations: REDI Romania, REDI Serbia and REDI North Macedonia. REDI Romania is the oldest organization (registered in 2016) and in the same time is themain project applicant and coordinator of the REDI Network.

REDI as an Organization

REDI network consist in a highly dedicated team of 9 professionals, out of which 66% are Roma.

The strategy of REDI is supervised by the Board of Directors which has currently 3 members:

  • Petrica Dulgheru – executive board member;
  • Lucian Dumbravieanu – executive board member;
  • Ileana Glodeanu – non-executive board member. Ileana is a reputable lawyer, partner at Wolf Theiss, a leading law firm in the Central and Eastern European region. She has extensive experience in Merger and Acquisitions.

In order to reach our vision, the management team has assigned representatives to be accountable for developing and driving progress on each of the four pillars supporting our strategy:

Investment vehicle: Lucian Dumbravieanu. Lucian, 41 years old, is a founding member of REDI NGO Romania and member of the board. He has a master’s degree in European Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Banking. Lucian is an experienced banker with over 15 years of experience in both commercial and multilateral development banks. Lucian is a Romanian citizen, based in Bucharest, which allows REDI to have a good level of understanding of the regional environment.

Community work & Building cadre: Nadire Redjepi. Nadire is a 29 years old Roma ethnic and North Macedonian citizen. She has a master’s degree in Economic Policy and Global Markets. Nadire has over 10 years of experience in working with different Roma focused organizations but in the same time she has relevant experience with a microfinance institution and in a fund management company.

Advocacy: Petrica Dulgheru. Petrica is a 36 years old Roma ethnic, actively involved in shaping the Roma movement.  Petrica has Romanian and Belgium citizenship. He is a founding member of REDI and the force behind the organization. Petrica holds a PhD in heterogeneous catalysis and he is Innovation Program Manager at a well know automotive Belgium company. Petrica is located in Bruxelles, which allows REDI to have an active relationship with European institutions and with the other Roma focused organizations

1              REDI Economic Development S.A. – Pillar I

REDI’s vision started from the belief that microfinance institutions are still uneasy about l ending to entrepreneurs in Roma communities. This belief has been reinforced after close market analysis and after running during 2015-2016 a pilot in 2 out of 4 of our countries of operations.

REDI observed that the mainstream microlending market is normally avoiding lending to Roma entrepreneurs and we realized that in the absence of a new approach nothing will actually change.

The idea to establish the first Roma focused investment vehicle emerged at the end of 2017, when, after several years of working with mainstream microfinance lending products, we became fully aware that no one else would represent the interests of Roma communities in providing business support services and financial guarantees in those communities.

The Open Society Foundations are a strategic supporter and investor in the investment vehicle, REDI Economic Development S.A. Luxembourg, providing USD 1.2 million grant to be used as first loss equity and to support the registration costs of the investment vehicle.

Primary objectives

  • Build a strong institution capable of partnering with key investors that have a strong social mission, in order to provide access to funding (debt and equity) to entrepreneurs in Roma communities;
  • First closing of REDI Economic Development S.A. targets € 5 million; the second closing (planned for 2022/2023) should target € 20 million.

 Provided that the primary objectives are attained, achievement of secondary objectives would significantly increase our impact.

2              Community Work & Building Cadre– Pillar II and III

In 2016 REDI was set up as a provider for technical assistance, to enable access to finance for entrepreneurs in Roma communities. Initially, we invested in maintaining and growing a network of business facilitators who would identify Roma entrepreneurs and business owners in Roma communities (Roma and non Roma owners) and provide a broad range of business development services.

Because the services were diverse, we found it was difficult to capture and enhance the knowledge of the business facilitators and provide supporting pieces of training across the industries as well as across geographies.

Thus, REDI has reconsidered its operational model and starting with 2019 has become more of an ecosystem builder and connector between Roma entrepreneurs operating in their communities and the mainstream business environment.

This new and improved concept comes from the fact that a prosperous business needs a fully functioning ecosystem: stable access to equitable finance, access to high-risk capital (venture and grants), a strong network of mentors, access to information, access to business tools, and networking opportunities.

The activities in this cluster are aimed at enabling REDI to identify communities where Roma are entrepreneurs by building a map and evaluating their potential within the framework of the tools that we have.

In 2018 and 2019, REDI piloted several methods of outreach and provided technical assistance to Roma entrepreneurs through (1) partner organizations (business accelerator programs, EU funded projects on entrepreneurship, training, and courses); (2) events (info sessions and meetings with Roma entrepreneurs, and networking events); (3) Roma Loan Officers (internship program in MFIs); and (4) online media.

The implementation of the Community Investment pillar was significantly changed in January 2019, when REDI’s chart (see annex 1) was revisited to include a Director of Operations.

The Director of Operations introduced a new way of performing outreach to Roma communities: using information sessions rather than door to door mapping.

In November 2019 REDI implemented a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) solution with the intention of providing a more efficient and accurate way of operating within the field.

Primary objectives

  • Build a pipeline of creditworthy entrepreneurs to demonstrate to microfinance institutions that there is sufficient demand in Roma communities to support the idea of developing specialized tools;
  • Build a process to identify communities and a ranking methodology to determine the appropriate allocation of REDI resources for an effective proof of concept.

Provided that the primary objectives are attained, achievement of secondary objectives would significantly increase our traction.

Secondary objectives

  • Decrease the resource expenditure in the mapping process;
  • Identify a way of maintaining contact with Roma communities covering a wide region;
  • Develop a facilitation process where the decision to support a specific entrepreneur is objectively taken by the Director of Operations.

2.1          Community Outreach

Starting from January 2018, REDI was focused on reaching out to 70 Roma communities from Romania, North Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria. Since the team acknowledged the lack of capacity in covering Bulgaria, the objective was downsized to cover Romania, Serbia and Macedonia (50 communities).

REDI mapped and assessed the needs of a total of 461 Roma entrepreneurs from Romania, North Macedonia, and Serbia and reached out 42 new Roma communities.

Our staff mapped 236 Roma entrepreneurs in North Macedonia (Skopje, Tetovo, Gostivar, Bitola, Prilep, and Kocani), 80 Roma entrepreneurs in Serbia (Novi Sad, Belgrade, Nis, Valjevo, Zrenjanin, and Kragujevac) and 145 Roma entrepreneurs in Romania (Targu Mures, Craciunesti, Sangeorgiu de Mures, Alba, and Deva).

2.2          Entrepreneurship Support Services

In 2019, a new process of delivering technical assistance and business support was implemented as it includes a detailed analysis of needs before engaging resources. Additionally, the new process relies more on identifying the appropriate service provider under REDI’s supervision, in order to allow us to focus on filling the gaps.

REDI piloted several methodologies to provide support and technical assistance to existing entrepreneurs using partners:

  • Business Accelerators can provide access to know-how, skills, learning resources and networking opportunities. We signed MoUs with two business accelerators – CEED, and CEU iLAB – where Roma entrepreneurs recommended by REDI are now welcome to attend events and trainings. Another MoU with Impact Hub is expected to be signed in 2020
  • In Romania, REDI identified EU funded organizations which deliver entrepreneurship training and courses. REDI signed five MoU and partnership agreements: with Start-up Centru, Start-up Nord, NeSST, FDSC and Fundatia PACT
  • Internship program for young Roma in MFIs (Roma Loan Officers). With the support of 19 Roma Loan Officers placed in microfinance institutions, we facilitated the access to finance by assisting a total of 1,032 loan applications in the MFIs.

Advocacy at national and EU level – Pillar IV

REDI’s advocacy strategy was designed in June 2018 and it included several key components at the countries of operations level and international level.

REDI has grown its ability to advocate for more effective methods, tools and programs targeting vulnerable communities in the EU and the Balkans. We have focused on building partnerships with a wide range of Roma and non-Roma organizations.

REDI is a key member in stakeholder consultations organized by DG NEAR, DG EMPLOYMENT and DG JUSTICE as well as being one of the key organizers of Roma Week in the European Parliament.

Empowering members of REDI Business Clubs to be able to advocate for their own rights became REDI’s strategic focus in 2019.

We enrolled in several fact-finding projects to build advocacy tools:

  • Mind the Gap (funded by the OSF) enabled us to understand the challenges young Roma face in accessing Youth Guarantee in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Czech Republic (2018–2019)
  • Another Entrance (funded by Erasmus+) is enabling us to identify challenges faced by social enterprises set up in Roma communities (2019–2020)
  • Youth Roma Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Development (funded by Erasmus+) aims to identify missing links in the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, and Spain (2019–2021)
  • REDI’s own mapping of entrepreneurs’ projects (funded by Council of Europe Bank and OSF) in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia (2015–2019)
  • Capacity-building of Roma NGOs (funded by Visegrad Fund) (2019–2020)

Primary objectives

  • All work undertaken at EU level was aimed at one or both of the following primary objectives:
  • Increase awareness regarding the challenges faced by Roma entrepreneurs when accessing financial guarantees and capital backed by the EU programs;
  • Influence the post-2020 EU agenda by including Roma as a target group for the financial instruments.

Secondary Objectives

  • Empower Roma entrepreneurs supported by REDI to attend stakeholder consultation meetings for EaSI, COSME and EASME programs;
  • Identify the relevant stakeholders involved in the development of programs supporting entrepreneurship and community development and targeting specific measures which defend the rights of Roma entrepreneurs and communities;
  • Build coalitions with various Roma and Roma friendly institutions.

3.1          National-Level Advocacy

 In order to increase the impact in the context of limited resources, REDI decided to focus its advocacy activities in only two out of the four countries of operations:

  • Romania: within the framework of the Mind the Gap Project (funded by the OSF), REDI performed a field study to determine the impact of Youth Guarantee. The results of the study have been disseminated at local and national level
  • Macedonia: proximity to Romalitico and Avaja enabled us to join some of the high level advocacy initiatives. RIO facilitated several high level meetings with the Minister of Social Affairs within the framework of empowering Roma informal waste collectors. Another set of events was organized within the framework of the programs launched by the Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs which aimed at providing grants for entrepreneurs and for which REDI organized public information sessions.

The REDI staff and leadership team is frequently invited to key events organized by the European Parliament (ie.EU Roma Week), European Commission (DG NEAR, DG JUSTICE, DG EMPL), Council of Europe, the Croatian and Romanian Presidencies of the EU, national and international conferences.