Founder and Trustee - Sustainable Rural Development Int’l Ltd
Since 1973, Richard has held senior executive and legal positions in the corporate private sector and as a consultant for international development initiatives by the World Bank, European Union, Millenium Challenge Corporation and USAID. His career has covered a wide array of sectors in multiple political and social environments from Europe, Africa, Asia to the Middle East and Japan.
Beginning his development work in 1994 with a two-year assignment leading a multi-national team in the Russian Federation, Richard undertook short- and long-term projects before accepting the role of Regional Director of the Eurasia Foundation Western NIS division based in Kyiv, Ukraine. There, in 2003, he and his team first developed the idea of a regional, rural based “green tourism” program for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. The six-month small grant program produced a showcase success by creating several small businesses and at least 40 new jobs in Ukraine alone requiring less than a mid-five figure investment.
Following two years as “Of Counsel” to a London/Kyiv law firm, Richard accepted a position of Director of Legal Affairs for the Aga Khan Foundation’s University of Central Asia in 2006. As part of his mandate, he also advised on economic and tourism development in the mountainous regions of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. After four years in Africa and Central Asia, Richard founded SRDI, Ltd., in 2012 as a non-profit social enterprise based in London. Reaching back to the “green tourism” initiative at Eurasia, in 2016 Richard designed and developed a plan for SRDI to establish a self-financing social venture for a regional, rural, community-based sustainable tourism program initially covering Turkey, Ukraine and Georgia and incorporating Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria. The Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program, or BSST, business model is based on a community designed and controlled system, relying on active local participation through an established community organisation and assuring that at least 80% of the traveller spend remains within the community. Two years of initial due diligence and studies were funded by SRDI and a combined EU/Turkish Ministry of Finance grant. Launched in 2020, just before COVID and then impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, BSST has nevertheless established partner communities in Turkey and Georgia, working with strong local entities who oversee and implement the program. Despite the start-up impediments, SRDI has helped restoration efforts in the Mykolaiv region of Ukraine and will soon expand BSST in both Turkey and Georgia while planning a return to Ukraine.