Who We Are

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SRDI is a non-profit social enterprise with an office in London and experts based in Kyiv, Istanbul and Tbilisi. We specialise in economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainable development in rural areas. With 78% of poverty concentrated in rural areas, we believe that to achieve a positive impact at the grass-roots level we should focus on small-scale community-based groups and to adopt a more people-centered approach to rural development.  To reinforce that focus, SRDI began its in-house Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program. But, the majority of work could not be done without contributions from people like you, other partners and donor organisations. 


Incorporated in 2012, SRDI began working with a handful of dedicated volunteers and the support and seed investment from our founder and CEO, the Managing Director of Vesselka Consulting Limited. Vesselka Consulting provides its consulting and project implementation expertise developed through work in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, Georgia and Middle East for international donors and private sector.


Our Mission

SRDI's mission is to support UN Sustainable Development Goals through rural economic development that protects and preserves ecological, social and cultural heritage.


We work at the community level on a participatory basis, guiding community leaders to implement sustainable practices to improve livelihoods.

Our Vision

At SRDI, we envision a world with expanded development horizons in which social, cultural, business, and environmental needs can all be successfully met. To accomplish this, SRDI believes all economic development projects—large or small—should incorporate sustainable approaches from the planning process through implementation.  SRDI also believes in an inclusive process involving all stakeholders in a community. Through this work, SRDI makes a commitment to the future.

Our Core Values

1.  Regenerating the world through participatory approaches to sustainable development.

2.  Providing the best value and excellence for all our services.

3.  Encouraging individual initiative, hard work, team work and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Partners and Support

SRDI partnerships aim to strengthen the sustainable community movement and UN development goals.

Vesselka Consulting Ltd
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Vesselka Consulting is an integral part of SRDI. It has provided staff, funds and significant world-wide expertise in business re-engineering, sustainable development, public and private capacity building advising the private sector and the World Bank, USAID, MCC and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.  Vesselka has advised on projects in Africa, Asia and Europe in a wide array of matters since 2010.

World Wildlife Fund for Nature (Turkey) has supported SRDI's Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program since 2013. It has provided advice, implementation support and hosts the BSST Program Secretariat in Istanbul.  WWF-Turkey was founded in 1975 as the Turkish Society for Conservation of Nature and became the national office of the WWF network in 2001. Its mission is to stop the degradation of our planet's natural environment and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.

BRIDGE-Innovation and Development, founded in 2015, is a nongovernmental organization driven by its vision of Georgia free of poverty and suffering.  BRIDGE is a spin-off legacy of Oxfam with a commitment to sustaining grassroots connections and partnerships and supporting agriculture and rural development, in order to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth. It is the BSST National Office and a strategic partner with SRDI.

The Georgian Tourism Association is an organization of private tourism companies, hotels and wine companies founded in 2006 to promote the cooperation between the tourism companies in Georgia, the private and public sector, sustainable tourism development, accessibility of tourism information and country marketing, capacity building and quality management for tourism services. The GTA works on product development in incoming, domestic and outgoing tourism and is a signatory of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.  It has been awarded "Cluster Management Excellence Label BRONZE - Striving for Cluster Excellence", by  the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) establishes and manages global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, known as the GSTC Criteria. These are the guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources, while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation. The GSTC is an independent and neutral organization, registered in the USA as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that represents a diverse and global membership, including national and provincial governments, leading travel companies, hotels, tour operators, NGO’s, individuals and communities – all striving to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.


Richard A. Shepard, Founder and Director


The founder and Trustee/Director of SRDI, Mr. Shepard has more than 40 years' experience in senior management of the private sector and has led international development projects for the World Bank, USAID, the EU, and MCC and private sector clients. His technical specializations include project management in land reform, public/private governance, capacity building,  community organisational development and  sustainable tourism. Since 1994, he has worked on projects in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East.  He founded SRDI in 2012 and is also a Director of Vesselka Consulting Limited which is under the umbrella of SRDI since 2021.


Mr. Shepard holds a degree in Political Science from Drew University and a Juris Doctorate from New York Law School.  He has attended Leningrad Polytechnic Institute (1969) earning a certificate in Russian language studies and the Royal Commonwealth Society/Drew University Program in International Political Science and Philosophy in London (1968).

Nigel Edmead, Training and Development


A Trustee of SRDI since its foundation, Mr. Edmead has more than two decades of experience in the geo/land administration and learning fields. He is a member of SRDI's Board of Trustees and provides valuable support and advice in training and capacity building.  In 2020 he established the geo-spacial and land administration sector firm Enumanation in England to unlock the value of technology through education.  Mr. Edmead believes that learning practice can only strengthen the continued adoption of geo/land admin tech which is driving improved livelihoods across the globe. Working to a client’s specification the firm offers learning advisory services to new, on-going, and soon-to-launch programs, projects and solutions on land rights, earth observation, and geoinformation.


Prior to founding Enumanation, he was Director of Training and Documentation at Thomson Reuters.  He has a track record in delivering learning for land administration technologies including pro-poor land tools and is a guest lecturer at ITC, Enschede and TUM, Munich. He has worked as a business analyst and project manager on land administration projects in Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia. Nigel holds an MSc. in Land Resource Management and is based in London.