WISE is part of the largest Work Integration Social Enterprise in Romania

About us

WISE is part of the largest work integration social enterprise in Romania, being declared "Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2016" within Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year world competition. Throughout time, we provided social aid to over 150.000 beneficiaries, created over 100 jobs, out of which at least 40% are dedicated to disabled people.

WISE is developed by us, Close to You Foundation (ADV), a non-governmental organization and a work integration social enterprise, established in February 2002 by Holt International Children’s Service USA, whose mission is the integration of people with disabilities or other vulnerable groups.

Its national headquarters is in Iasi and it is registered as a Romanian foundation, independent from state authorities, not conditioned by any certain ideologies, doctrines or religions.
Close to You Foundation has developed over 75 projects/programmes in the last 15 years, financed by international bodies, local authorities and from its own funds. The programmes of the foundation carried out at a local, national and regional level and at the cross-border/transnational level, are in the domain of social services and social economy, innovative services targeting the inclusion and employment of vulnerable groups, particularly young people. In parallel, the lobby and advocacy component for the NGO sector has been developed by the promotion and defense of the direct beneficiaries - people from vulnerable groups and a development assistance component - granted to NGOs from the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, and Nigeria.

Close to You Foundation is currently providing the following services:

  • Specialised social services for people from vulnerable groups, particularly teenagers and young people: psychosocial assistance and vocational therapy - within day centres / Youth Club (Decision of accreditation as provider of social services 641/19.05.2014, issued by the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and the Elderly);
  • Protected employment for disabled people looking for a job: assessment, counselling and professional guidance, qualification, internships and employment within UtilDeco work integration social enterprise, certified as protected establishment by ANPD (Certificate no. 1318/11.06.2013);
  • Employment services for young people from vulnerable groups looking for a job: assessment, counselling and professional guidance, qualification, internship within UtilDeco social integration enterprise, mediation, employment on the labour market and job coaching. These services are provided through JobDirect, the Employment and Work Assistance Agency - an internal department of the foundation (Certificate of accreditation as employment provider, issued by ANOFM Iasi, series IS/no. 25/00037 as of 23.06.2014);
  • Prevention services in the community: mobile caravans in schools and high-schools, information campaigns on sexual education; prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS; domestic violence; abuse; trafficking in human beings; drug consumption etc;
  • Defending the rights of people with disabilities or other social issues, including those infected with HIV;
  • Lobby and advocacy for the NGO sector, contracting social services and developing the social economy in Romania through FONSS, RISE, Social Economy Coalition, FOND, Coalition for structural funds etc, to which Close to You Foundation is founding member.
Executive Council

ANGELA ACHIȚEI - CEO

Educated as a social assistant, with a Master's degree in integrated education at Al.I. Cuza University of Iasi and currently a Ph-D. candidate in `strategic management of social economy businesses`, during her 15 years of activity with Close to You Foundation, Angela has carried out the management of more than 75 European projects

ANA DRELEA - MEMBER - THE EMPLOYEES REPRESENTATIVE

Ana Drelea has started her activity with Close to You Foundation in 2004, as a volunteer. She became very attached to the foundation's values and in 2006, she applied for the position of financial assistant, being, as a result, employed within the organization.

PETRISOR OSTAFIE - MEMBER - THE BENEFICIARIES' REPRESENTATIVE

At the beginning of 2004, I came into contact with Close to You Foundation, as a beneficiary. I found people determined to help for the better those in need. I was fascinated by the way they helped the beneficiaries with the problems they had and I decided that I wanted and could do more for those around me.

ANA VASILACHE - HONORARY MEMBER

Ana Vasilache is an architect and town planner, with a vast experience as trainer and facilitator of participating processes of strategic planification in communities and organizations. Ana is founding member of FPDL - Partners for Local Development Foundation, a non-governmental organization

OLIVIA BACIU - HONORARY MEMBER

Olivia Baciu is working in the field of local and international development, being consultant and trainer in the development of organizations/institutions and transition governance for the representatives of civil society organizations and of local and central public administrations and their partners, as well as for the coalitions and federations

Awards received by Close to You Foundation

”Social Entrepreneur Of The Year” Prize in 2017

”Social Entrepreneur Of The Year” Prize granted to Angela Achitei for the establishment of UtilDeco as a social enterprise within Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Programme, the only global entrepreneurial competition taking place in more than 145 cities from 60 countries, covering over 94% of the global economy.

  • 2016 - The prize for the first 50 specialised groups registered in 2016 with the Unique Registry of the Transparency of Interests - RUTI, implemented by the Romanian Government, granted by Violeta Alexandru, minister for Public Consultation and Civic Dialogue.
  • 2016 - The prize for “Development of the NGO sector” awarded to Mrs Angela Achitei by Star of Hope Romania Foundation.
  • 2015 - The prize for “Business with social impact” granted by Business Days.
  • 2014 - Bucharest, Structural Funds Gala, First Prize, section “With INCLUDED impact”, for the results obtained by developing the project “Alliance for the Development of Social Economy” by Close to You Foundation, partnered with General Department for the Protection of Individuals with Disabilities, MMSF, Motivation Romania Foundation, D.G.A.S.P.C. Iasi and Social Cooperative “ll Poliedro” Italy and co-financed by the European Social Fund through POSDRU 2007-2013, priority axis 6 “Promotion of social integration”.
  • 2014 - Bucharest, Civil Society Gala, Dan Manoleli special prize for the development of civil society.
  • 2014 - Iasi, Young Values Gala, special prize for social involvement granted to Close to You Foundation as a recognition for the contribution to the promotion of the authentic values of Iasi.
  • 2014 - Iasi, Feminine Models Gala,” Entrepreneur in social economy” prize for UtilDeco's activity.
  • 2013 - Excellence prize as a model of good practice within the initiative ENWHP “Promoting health at the workplace for employees with chronic diseases - Work and Public Health (work PH)” in Brussels.

In September 2013

the European Commission published us on its website as a good practice model representative for Romania on the disabled people's protected employment.

  • 2011 - Special prize from the Trade and Industry Chamber of Suceava as a recognition on behalf of the business community of Suceava of the quality of its involvement in civil society and of the fundamental values it supports.
  • 2011 - Diploma of merit for promoting the social economy by developing UtilDeco initiative from the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection.
  • 2011 - Honorary diploma and Excellence Trophy granted by the Trade and Industry Chamber of Iasi as “a recognition from the business community of Iasi on the quality of its involvement in civil society and of the fundamental values it supports.”
  • 2010 - Prize for Model of involvement in civil society given to ADV Centre of Constanta within the Radio Awards Gala of Constanta.
  • 2010 - First Prize for the Most visible NGO and first prize for the best relationship with the media at ONG Fair of Tg. Mures.
  • 2009 - Prize for “organization of the year” at the Volunteers' Gala in Iasi.
  • 2009 - Honourable mention at Civil Society Gala, section “Defence of individual/collective rights for the project “Consolidation and replication of the information, counselling and legal assistance service”.
  • 2008 - Honourable mention at Civil Society Gala for the campaign “I get involved for you”.
  • 2008 - Special prize of 5.000 euro and specialised business counselling for 3 years for establishing the work integration social enterprise within the Competition of Social Enterprises NESsT - ABN-AMRO 2007.
  • 2007 - Second prize on the partnerships developed with the decentralised institutions, granted by the Prefecture of Iasi County.
  • 2007 - Second prize on the involvement of the foundation in the community of Iasi by the Iasi City hall - Department of Community Assistance.
  • 2007 - Nomination of the campaign “I get involved for you” for the Carol Davila prize.
  • 2007 - Nomination for the best annual report - Romanian Donors' Forum.
  • 2007 – “The best volunteers' coordinator prize, awarded at the Volunteers' Gala of Iasi, organized by Bethany Foundation of Social Services.
  • 2007 – “organization of the year” prize granted at the Volunteers' Gala of Iasi, organized by Bethany Foundation of Social Services.
  • On 10 May 2007, Petrisor Ostafie, member of the Executive Council of Close to You Foundation and, at the same time, beneficiary, was awarded by His Royal Majesty, King Mihai I, the financial component of `Hanno R. Ellenbogen for Citizenship`Prize. The prize was given to His Majesty the King by The Prague Society and Global Panel Foundation.
  • 2007 - Prize for “The youngest volunteer” at the Volunteers' Gala of Iasi, organized by Bethany Foundation of Social Services.
  • 2006 - Prize for “Volunteer of the year at the Volunteers' Gala from Iasi, awarded by Bethany Foundation of Social Services.
  • 2006 - Nomination of the component “The talkative Corner” within the campaign “I get involved for you!” at the People for People Gala.
  • 2006 - Special mention at the Civil Society Gala for the project “Right to health, right to education for all children”.
  • 2004 - Prize for the best reflection of the volunteering activity awarded by Pro Vorbis within the competition “The best annual reports”.
  • 2003 - National recognition as a model of good practice on child protection for “Service of Maternal assistance for HIV-infected children” awarded by USAID, W.L. and ANPCA.
Testimonials

"For us, Close to You Foundation is a trendsetter through what they have been doing for years in the social economy sector, fighting for the interests of social organizations at a national level so the work of the sector is respected and recognized."

"They prove each day that organizations outside Bucharest can successfully promote public policies at a national level."


Ionut Sibian - CEO FDSC

"I'm a big fan of Close to You and of Angela Achitei (and not because she is my namesake). What Angela Achitei has started in Iasi is in fact, a way of believing in people and in their power, sometimes still undiscovered. The network she has created within the social services and the social economy structures constitutes a vivid demonstration of what it means to be a person of the citadel, for the community of Iasi and more. It is a model to be followed for both local and national public policies."


Angela Cristea - Chief of the European Commission Representation in Romania

"During my 15 years of activity in the non-governmental sector, I have had the opportunity to witness many projects develop and I have watched them with the care of someone who knows how serious are the challenges with which they will be faced in order to ensure their continuity. Close to You Foundation has managed to find, quite naturally, because the foundation's programmes are really the expression of the local needs, a way of efficient development by establishing UtilDeco. I was impressed by the evolution of UtilDeco, going from the stage of an idea, several years ago, to the stage of a truly effective social enterprise and, at the same time, a model of the involvement of the beneficiaries - people from vulnerable groups, in various activities, turning to advantage their talent and dedication. It can be done! Close to You Foundation is showing, thanks to UtilDeco, that this can be done in Romania as well! Not only by knowing the beneficiaries' real needs, but also through clear management abilities and a lot of dedication, extraordinary longstanding projects are born, both in the capital city and in other locations in the country."


Violeta Alexandru - Minister for Public Consultation and Civic Dialogue (2016)

"The visit to UtilDeco has provided me with a lot of information and has deeply impressed me. I appreciate the efforts made to improve social services and to influence and change the way in which social services and social enterprises are regarded. I would like to come back because here I have discovered an overall thinking and a concrete system of providing improved services, including to people in rural areas."


Tove Bruvik Westberg - Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway in Romania
Affiliations

“Close to you” Foundation is involved at national and European level into advocacy endeavors aimed at improving and regulating some aspects related to social services, social economy, the rights of disabled people, the development of the NGO sector, European funds, transparency and social equity. In this sense, as the founding member, it has laid the foundations of several national platforms and networks.

  • FONSS – Federation of Non-Governmental organizations for Social Services;
  • NGO Commission within the Social and Economic Development Council of Iasi county;
  • RISE - Romanian Network of Social Integration enterprises, member of ENSIE Europe;
  • FOND - Federation of Non-Governmental organizations for Development, member of TRIALOG Europe;
  • NGO Coalition for Structural Funds;

We are the member of the National Committee of Integration and Fight against Poverty attached to prime minister Dacian Ciolos' cabinet.

Close to You Foundation is registered with the Unique Registry of the Transparency of Interests, RUTI, implemented by the Romanian Government.