Photo: Laszlo Potozy
25 %
are protected areas that, if used sustainably, could contribute to local economic development and to preserving the natural and cultural heritage.

Together with national partners and local leaders, the Romanian-American Foundation is working to develop and test market-based solutions for local economic development that will contribute to jobs, unleash economic opportunities and empower communities. RAF also concentrates to foster the scaling for the field-tested solutions that demonstrated small-scale success.

Most of RAF’s investments focus on two niches that we identified as vectors of economic development: support for small farmers and ecotourism.

Today’s rural economy is far from being a prosperity generator for either rural people or their communities. Agriculture is still the basic occupation, but 98% of the farms are very low productivity, subsistence and semi-subsistence farms. Value-added services or other economic activities are scarce to none and poorly connected to the market. At the same time, rural education is not adjusted to the current labor market needs and perpetuates the vicious cycle of long-term poverty by limiting young people’s access to development opportunities.

Alternatively, rural areas have a great ecotourism potential: almost 25 % of the country is covered by protected natural areas that, if used responsibly, may contribute to local economic development while preserving natural and cultural heritage.

RAF programs work and contribute to create conditions for local farmers to become more efficient, be able to associate and contribute to the prosperity of their communities; to develop a network of ecotourism destinations that capitalize on local traditions, nature, gastronomy and customs; and to contribute to the development of a new generation of rural professionals through quality education.



Creating Opportunities for Small Farmers

Piloting possible solutions for rural economic development in agriculture.

Food Hub Development
A group of Romanian NGOs develop and pilot Food Hubs as sustainable economic alternatives that can ensure fair market access to small local food producers and individual small farmers.
Agricultural high schools – educating the next generation of farmers
Agricultural high schools education helps students acquire the necessary skills to become small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in agriculture.
The program provides a framework for RAF rural development partners to support more interested parties in developing new cooperatives in Romania by accessing public funds based on the methodology tested in four locations by RAF partners.
Rural Education

Developing educational opportunities for rural youths.

Teach for Romania
Attracting, selecting and contributing to the professional development of young graduates willing to teach in schools situated in vulnerable areas, and support them to become leaders in Romania’s education using the Teach for All model.
Local Development through Ecotourism

Capitalizing on natural and cultural potential through responsible and economically viable means.

Development of Ecotourism Destinations
Accelerating the establishment of ecotourism destinations and consolidating a country-wide ecotourism network will make a major contribution to the development of Romanian ecotourism.
Education for ecotourism
Education can contribute to the long-run development of the ecotourism destinations, building up the needed skills and attitudes of the young generations.
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