Inspirational HERO Progress in Romania and The First Success

The HERO journey in Romania is marked by the confident steps of our participants and the personal milestones of empowered families through innovative housing and financial education initiatives. ​​As the Romanian counties of Bacău, Neamț, and Iași in north-eastern Romania proceed with the implementation of the HERO model, we are pleased to report the progress achieved through the dedicated efforts of our partners and participants.

Read on to learn the achievements and ongoing activities that are paving the way for a brighter future for many Roma families in one of Europe’s most underprivileged regions.

All Hands On Deck in Romania’s HERO Pilot

A cornerstone of the HERO project in Romania is its focus on capacity building through cooperation with regional actors and tight work with the local communities. Introduced in August 2023, financial education training and savings schemes (initiated in 2024) have commenced a transformative journey in how participants handle their finances, equipping them with tools and knowledge that have lasting benefits beyond the project’s timeframe.

Through the HERO approach, 71 individuals have participated in financial education sessions focused on enhancing their money management skills, supported by a proactive field worker who motivates them to optimise their income. Moving forward, more than 30 families have started savings schemes, offering a safety net and enabling them to prepare for future expenses.

Building Foundations for Independence

The impact of the financial literacy and savings schemes on our HEROes is profound, providing participants with the skills and mechanisms to take control of their financial futures. By learning to save and manage money effectively, families are laying down the foundations for a more secure and prosperous life.

Today, the participating families are planning for immediate needs and preparing for future goals, whether education, home improvements, or attending entrepreneurship courses. As more families gain financial stability in the coming months, the entire community benefits from increased economic activity.

This community effect is what the HERO project aims to amplify as we expand and refine the social innovation model. The success of the financial literacy training and savings schemes in these early months of 2024 is the first indicator of lasting change.

Micro-Lending & Housing Renovation

When it comes to facilitating micro-lending, our HERO task forces around the country are laying the groundwork to ensure sustainable and effective support for our Romanian participants. BCR Social Finance has initiated the pre-assessment of beneficiaries’ creditworthiness, concurrently developing a robust risk mitigation mechanism. This mechanism will establish the procedures governing future micro-loans, aligning with the specific needs and capacities of participants.

On the construction sites, we have completed technical assessments for 41 houses, which are essential in determining the scope and scale of necessary renovations — as the construction legislation may be tempering the participants’ initial plans, especially regarding estimated costs. Our HEROes’ efforts to improve housing conditions have seen significant planning stages and they are now equipped with everything to commence renovations.

Through each of these components, the HERO project in Romania does not just support Roma communities in building homes or learning finance planning — it builds on these efforts and creates impactful changes in the lives of our participants.

The HERO project is laying the foundations for enduring change and enabling communities to rise above the socio-economic challenges they face.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

The HERO journey in Romania has not been without its challenges. The scarcity of local employment opportunities and the need to commute for training have hindered HERO’s employment support efforts. This limitation highlights the need for more localised solutions or more tailored approaches to training.

Despite these challenges, the HERO’s trajectory toward the inclusion and empowerment of the Roma communities in Romania is foundational. The pilot stage is aimed at overcoming these hurdles, as the team and partners learn from each experience and continuously adapt the strategies to better serve the Roma communities.

We invite you to follow HERO on social media and read our blogs to continue supporting these efforts. Your engagement is crucial as we strive to refine our approaches and expand our impact.

Together, we can foster an environment where every individual has the opportunity to build a better, more secure future.