Who We Are
SRDI is a non-profit social enterprise with an office in London and experts based in Ukraine, Turkey and Georgia. We specialise in economic, social, cultural and environmentally sustainable development focusing on 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 adopt a more people-centred approach to 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 in England & Wales, SRDI began working with a handful of dedicated volunteers with the support and seed investment from our founder and CEO, who was also the Managing Director of Vesselka Consulting Limited. Vesselka Consulting has now become a part of SRDI so that we can now provide extensive consulting and project implementation expertise from its work for international donors and the private sector in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.
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.
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.
Vesselka Consult (formerly Vesselka Consulting Ltd.) is an integral part of SRDI. Founded in 2010, it has advised on projects for the World Bank, USAID, MCC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe in a wide array of disciplines. Since 2012 it has provided staff, offices, funds and advice to the newly established SRDI.
Merged into SRDI in 2021, Vesselka Consult brings its significant worldwide expertise in business re-engineering, land reform, sustainable development, and public and private capacity building to SRDI.
Partners and Support
SRDI partnerships aim to strengthen the sustainable community movement and UN development goals.
Planeterra and the Planeterra Global Community Tourism Network is the leading non-profit using community tourism to change lives. There are forms of tourism where local businesses and communities do not benefit and nothing reaches the hands of local people. Planeterra aims to change that so communities are the beneficiaries of tourism.
SRDI is a Strategic Partner with “The Global Community Tourism Network”, a growing community tourism network that seeks to provide resources to community organizations worldwide and a place to share knowledge, with the aim of growing social and environmental impact through livelihood creation in tourism.
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 organisation 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.
Terra Mudurnu is an investment platform created for the ‘Historic Guild Town of Mudurnu’ (a UNESCO World Heritage candidate and a Cittaslow, in Bolu province, Turkey), with a vision for a sustainable economy and quality of life, based on conservation of local culture and nature. Terra Mudurnu aims to make Mudurnu a high-end tourism destination, and a community where young people would want to live.
It is the Community Organisation partner in the Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program and specializes in the repair, adaptive reuse and operation of historic buildings for culture and tourism purposes; organizing culture-art-education-tourism events, film production, publishing, development of local products, supporting social-tourism governance in the community.
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, business process restructuring, 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 Director of Vesselka Consulting Limited (now Vesselka Consult)which was merged into SRDI in 2021 and is now Vesselka Consult.
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, ongoing, and soon-to-launch programs, projects and solutions on land rights, earth observation, and geoinformation. In 2021 he became a Partner, Learning at Place, a Washington DC non-profit data trust that creates and stewards hyperlocal mapping data in the public interest.
Prior to founding Enumanation and joining Place, 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.
Advisor to the Board
Dr Paul K. Dezendorf, Advisor to the Board
Dr Dezendorf is an accomplished academic and practitioner with twenty-five years of university teaching and staff work including Fulbright Scholar and Specialist awards and twenty-seven trips to Russia as well as to England, Germany, Armenia, and the Kyrgyz Republic, Grand Turks & Caicos Islands, and Slovenia. Professor Dezendorf has authored or co-authored over fifteen journal articles, eight book chapters/case study publications; four teaching manuals and forty-eight national and international presentations. His prior work includes ten years of general management and divisional staff positions with major cable television companies and five years as coordinator of state and local planning for cable television in New Jersey, USA.
He holds a PhD in Public Health in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, a Master of Social Work, and a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology from the University of South Carolina as well as an MBA from Rutgers University and a BA in Economics from Drew University.