“RePatriot” is a repatriation project through entrepreneurship, which has been designed for the Romanians working abroad and willing to return to their home country and start a business. It has recently brought together over 100 business people in Bucharest, with the declared aim of encouraging the Romanians in the diaspora to invest in Romania. Over 30 successful entrepreneurs active in Romania support the project, providing counselling and information to those who want to capitalise on the business opportunities in this country. Dragos Anastasiu, one of the business people involved in the project has more:
Dragos Anastasiu: “We are not referring to a physical return to Romania, but rather to a mental one, so to say. First, you cease speaking badly about Romania, then you start speaking well of it, and thirdly you realize that Romania is at stake. The first step that should be taken is to strike a partnership with someone from Romania or to make an investment in Romania. And later on, why not, return to Romania physically, if need be. Let us make people understand that Romania has become again an option, that has already been taken into consideration by other people who got outstanding results or who managed to achieve something.”
“The repatriation of the Romanians in the diaspora through entrepeneurship is an important niche, and the 2018 target is to create an image of a united Romania, and not of a country divided between the Romanians living abroad and those living within the national borders”, says Marius Bostan, the initiator of the "RePatriot" project:
Marius Bostan: “This is actually a repatriation niche, an opportunity to return to the home country through entrepreneurship, but it is equally extremely important from an economic point of view, because the entrepreneurs’ return and the return of people who bring added value and create jobs make possible the return of other professional categories, such as doctors, teachers, professionals from various fields of activity. Romania needs to register economic growth several years in a row, to be able to pay higher salaries and have a better healthcare system, for people to live a better life.“
The Executive Director of the “RePatriot” project Ramona Chirila has further details:
Ramona Chirila: “All the participants have made appreciative remarks on the meeting and are looking forward to seeing the project entering a new stage, namely dividing people into groups and continuing talks on fields of interest, so that further talks materialise in business ideas, new strategic partnerships and hopefully a fruitful cooperation between the two groups of business people. There are two prevailing fields of activity. Undoubtedly, the first one is IT and technology. It represents and is acknowledged as the main opportunity provided by Romania at present. Also, a lot of the investors attending our meeting took a keen interest in the building sector, in real estate, agriculture, the energy field, the healthcare and sanitary systems. There are also some people willing to expand their businesses to Romania, too, and are considering taking concrete steps to that end. There are many examples of repatriated Romanians through entrepreneurship all around us. We can actually mention some of the members of the ‘RePatriot’ team, such as Dragos Anastasiu, Gabriel Istoc and Hildegard Brundle. Apart from them, we had at least 30 entrepreneurs who returned to Romania with the intention to invest money and they are already doing business here.”
A site has also been created for the project, www.repatriot.ro, which presents successful stories and offers details on business opportunities.
In turn, the Romanian Government also grants support to the Romanians in the diaspora who want to start a business in Romania. The Ministry of European Funds and the Foreign Ministry, through the Department for Policies on Relations with Romanians Abroad, have declared open the process of registration for the "Diaspora Start-up" Program, which receives a 30 million Euro allocation under the Human Capital Operational Program.
In a first stage, entrepreneurial scheme administrators are invited to submit project proposals worth a maximum of 5 million Euro, with their commitment to training and counselling future entrepreneurs and providing them with subsidies to start a business in this country. A prerequisite is to strike a partnership with an entity of the Romanians in the diaspora. Project proposals can be submitted by November 29.
In a second stage, eligible Romanian citizens willing to set up a company, can access funds amounting to a maximum of 40,000 Euro and can take part in e-learning entrepreneurial training programs, provided by entrepreneurial scheme administrators. Romanian citizens, aged over 18, who can prove that they have been residents or domiciled abroad for a minimum of 12 months and want to start a business in Romania are eligible.
The diaspora organizations interested in the program are invited to send their contact data, until October 30th, 2016 to firstname.lastname@example.org, to be included in a list to be made available to entrepreneurship scheme administrators.