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The global organization Ashoka selected 3 Romanians to become part of the biggest social innovators network in the world

Paul Radu, Dorica Dan and Florin Stoican are the first Romanians to become part of the Ashoka Fellows community of more than 3600 changemakers in 90 countries. The three Romanians bring systemic solutions in the fields of journalism, healthcare and environmental protection and they will be financially and non-financially supported by Ashoka to implement their social-economic development ideas, for life. The selection process lasted over 14 months, including dozens of interviews and a Global Ashoka Board analysis. The Board elected the Romanian social innovators in August, in Washington D.C.

Every Ashoka Fellow helps on average 230.000 people per year on a global scale. Therefore, the Ashoka Board saw in Paul, Dorica and Florin the potential to transform complex systems in their activity fields. Today we celebrate the achievements of these people that proved to have a creative, entrepreneurial and ethical spirit comparable to the significance of their ideas that transform investigative journalism, the care system for rare diseases and environmental protection in Romania”, said Corina Murafa, Country Director, Ashoka Romania.  

Who are the three Romanians?

Paul Radu is a global pioneer in investigative journalism at an international level. He has travelled across the world to track down corruption and organized crime and at the same time to create a decentralized network of over 400 journalists. Since 2009, his organization’s investigations have led, among other things, to seizing assets amounting to $5.7 bn, the launch of dozens of criminal investigations, 147 arrest warrants issued, 20 major resignations and over 1.400 company closures, indictments and court decisions.

“Organized crime doesn’t have a natural enemy and that’s why the ones left to fight it are investigative journalists. The police, secret services and all the public institutions that should deal with organized crime stop at the country’s borders and, again, investigative journalists’ networks are the only ones that can search and follow money where the criminals, corrupt politicians and others are hiding them: across borders,”  said Paul Radu, Executive Director, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting (OCCRP) and RISE Project.

Dorica Dan is revolutionizing the field of care for rare diseases by creating a new integrated care system combining medical and social services. Moreover, she shaped the social assistants’ case manager role, one that has the purpose to identify possible patients and to guide them towards specialists and services that they need. Among approximately 1 million Romanian citizens that might suffer from one of the 8000 rare diseases, under 1% are diagnosed. In 2014 Dorica managed to convince the government to establish a consultative council for rare diseases and to increase the allocated national budget by 46%. Dorica is the founder and the President of the National Alliance for Rare Diseases, board member in the biggest European organization in the field and advisor for different governments in Europe.

“I represent the over 1 million Romanian patients with rare diseases. The most important project we implemented until now is the opening of the NoRo center in Zalău. The centre is certified as an expertise model for rare diseases and it is part of the European network as well. Moreover, it is the first center in Europe run by a patient association. Because of our struggle, other rare diseases expertise centers have been certified, but it is important that they collaborate and try to improve together the diagnostic rate for rare disease patients,”  stated Dorica Dan, President, Centrul NoRo, National Alliance for Rare Diseases, Prader Willi Association Romania.

Florin Stoican is catalyzing a citizen-driven movement for the creation of a functional system for protected areas in Romania. He successfully established Buila Vânturarița National Park and Vacaresti Natural Park, both citizen initiative driven. Moreover, with the help of the Buila community he managed to have a 30-million-euro local economic impact, protecting at the same time the area’s cultural and natural values. The number of tourists in Buila increased in a few years from a few hundreds to over 25.000/year. Florin wants to transform National Park Vacaresti into the main Bucharest attraction and an Embassy for Protected Areas in Romania.

“15 years ago, I established the first national park in Romania run by a non-governmental organization. We realized though, that we can’t preserve the nature without being aware of the local community’s needs. Therefore, we converted our project in one that aids the development of the Oltenia mountain area. We brought 300.000 euros into the community, money that shaped into dozens of millions of euros. We replicated the project into the Văcărești Natural Park and we established the first urban park in Romania where we also want to develop an embassy of protected areas and a center for environment education,” Florin Stoican, President, Kogayon Association; Founder Buila Vânturarița National Park and Vacaresti Natural Park.

What is Ashoka’s support involves?

  • An individual grant for the first three years of fellowship, adapted to their needs in order to allow them to focus on their ideas for social innovation;
  • Interaction with other social entrepreneurs from the network of over 3,600 Ashoka Fellows;
  • Access to development opportunities especially designed for Ashoka Fellows;
  • Access to financing opportunities, partners and pro bono advisers;
  • The Ashoka Fellowship means community and support for life. Ashoka ensures that every Fellow benefits from the best experience: personalized coaching and consultancy needed to reach their solutions potential and to strategically solve the identified challenges.

Social entrepreneurs are people with innovative and systemic solutions for society’s biggest challenges: social, cultural, economic or environmental. Ashoka is the organization that pioneered this concept by building a social entrepreneurs’ network since 1980.

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