Crafting Future Communities — HERO in Romania

Despite their rich cultural background and diversity, Roma communities still face significant obstacles in Romania — home to approximately 1.85 million Roma. There, one in three Roma lacks access to basic water facilities, one in ten has no electricity, and hunger is a daily struggle for many. The Housing and Empowerment of Roma (HERO) aims to rewrite these daunting statistics.

Already in its pilot stage, HERO is empowering 120 individuals from Bacău, Neamț and Iași, counties in Romania. Through micro-loans, financial literacy, home renovation training, and employment coaching, our participants are already shaping a brighter future for their families.

HERO is not just about improving housing — it is about crafting the future of entire communities.

HERO Partners: United for Sustainable Change

The journey toward inclusion and empowerment is a challenging one, but HERO’s partners in Romania — BCR Social Finance IFN S.A., Resource Centre for Roma Communities (CRCR), Habitat for Humanity Romania, and local authorities — are already demonstrating how effective cross-sectoral cooperation can be when combating socio-economic exclusion.

Financial empowerment

BCR Social Finance leads the charge, offering micro-loans and essential financial education. As one of the instructors notes:

The financial education training reveals the large diversity [of backgrounds] within Roma communities and the need to tailor the information accordingly. We meet people from very traditional communities and people fully connected to modern life. Therefore, we have to adapt.

The goal of HERO is clear: to enhance not only the living conditions of Roma families but also their long-term financial stability, skills and knowledge.

Housing management

Habitat for Humanity Romania have proven to be crucial team players, particularly when it comes to their team of construction specialists tasked with identifying those who would benefit from learning about self-construction and home renovation. To date, HERO teams have already assessed 41 homes, bringing change to the vulnerable communities in Romania’s northeast regions.

HERO facilitates access to simple housing solutions as a catalyst to promote new skills and social empowerment. Only a joint effort can address the deep-rooted challenges faced by many Roma families.

Synergy across sectors

This combined effort by HERO partners from different sectors and participants from Roma communities aims not just to provide immediate relief, but also a sustainable transformation, as highlighted by one of our coaches:

The smiles on their faces at the end of the training session and the feedback received were important, and we are looking forward to seeing them start to change the way they manage their financial resources.

Through this innovative and collaborative approach, HERO offers a comprehensive programme designed to equip its participants with crucial financial and construction skills, provide access to micro-loans, and pave the way for gainful employment. 

Our HEROes Are Empowered

There is no doubt that the key element of the HERO journey lies in the experiences and growth of its participants. More than half of our HEROes in Romania have already participated in the first financial education training sessions to learn about:

  • Strategies for managing limited funds
  • The importance of financial planning for their families
  • The power of saving schemes

These lessons go beyond mere financial literacy — they are life skills that empower individuals and families to envision a more stable and prosperous future. The impact of these sessions is best understood through the voices of our participants.

Our HEROes often report on a newfound awareness and a sense of hope. Every step our participants take marks a milestone on a journey toward financial independence and stability.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m leaving with more knowledge. I understand how much money I could lose every month, and now I think that I can set aside some money, even if we have significant expenses with the children. I’ll start saving every month!

– HERO participant, Comănești, Bacău County, Romania.

The next phases of the HERO project in Romania involve continuous personalised support from social workers. They will be instrumental in helping families create and adhere to family budgets, and in encouraging the initiation and maintenance of savings schemes. This ongoing support is essential in building a foundation of trust and ensuring that the housing ambitions of our HEROes are met in full.

HERO Project — Catalyst for Change

HERO’s empowerment extends from individuals to entire communities and systems. While benefiting the local Roma communities, this project also aims to influence the overall prosperity of the respective regions.

The HERO project stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and the enduring impact of empowering marginalised communities in society, or as CRCR underlines:

The HERO project boosts Roma people’s capacity to do the best for their families.

 — Florin Moisă, Executive President of CRCR

And it is not only in Romania. Explore the HERO stories from Slovakia and Bulgaria in our next blogs and follow the HERO updates on social media.