Romanians who live abroad and who want to open a business at home can enter the Diaspora Start-up programme, where winning projects will be able to access a non-reimbursable funding of up to EUR 40,000.
The non-agricultural businesses can be opened in any urban environment in Romania, with the exception of the Bucharest-Ilfov region.
Applicants need to demonstrate either experience or studies in the field in which they want to open their businesses. After applying, they will have to take part in an online entrepreneurship course which will help them develop their business plan, together with specialists in the organisations they applied through.
The programme is managed through 32 organisations which were chosen in 2016 by the External Affairs Ministry. Some of them have won the right to finance more than one project as administrators of entrepreneurship schemes.
Victoria Guta, project manager at Start Up 4 Diaspora, one of the fund administrators, says that the project will start with around 200 participants in the online course and will aim to award the funding to 24 start-ups.
Each participant has to complete 40 hours of entrepreneurial training, but they can do so at their own pace, as it is an online course which will be available for a few months, so that everyone can manage the workload even if they have busy schedules. Guta says that the most interest for the programme has come from expats in the United Kingdom and Italy, but that there are also applicants who live in other countries like Germany or Spain.
Start Up 4 Diaspora, says Victoria Guta, the organisation will offer consulting, mentorship and monitoring of expenditures by the start-ups for a period of one year after the funding is allocated to the best projects. By 2020, the 24 start-ups in Start Up 4 Diaspora should be fully functional and successful.
Every one of the 33 fund administrators will have similar processes to the one established by Start Up 4 Diaspora, but some of them will only target some parts of the country or have slightly different methods.
Another recent programme that aimed to encourage new business by targeting potential entrepreneurs based in Romania, Start Up Nation, had some issues that may make some people worry that the Diaspora Start-up programme might have the same fate. Start Up Nation had significant delays in the arrival of funds, and many start-uppers ended up in a difficult situations after having purchased resources for their business that they were no longer able to cover financially. However, Victoria Guta says that the way Diaspora Start-up is set up means it does not pose the same risks as Start Up Nation, so entrepreneurs are guaranteed to get their funds when they are supposed to.