photojournalist Diana Savina
WOMEN - catalysts for the Moldovan economy
"In the daytime, I’m the general manager here. In the evenings I do the designs, and I’m still a mother of three!”
Learn more about some of all the successful female entrepreneurs in Moldova – how did they build their business, what challenges do they face and what are
their future plans?
Read my article: http://www.swedenabroad.com/en-GB/Embassies/Chisinau/Current-affairs/News/Women--catalysts-of-the-Moldovan-economy-sys/
Sweden is a strong advocate for gender equality in Moldova and supports European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's (EBRD) programme for small and medium sized businesses, with a focus on female entrepreneurs. The Women In Business (WiB) programme aims at encouraging Moldovan women to pursue a career in business and to become catalysts for their local economies. Assistance is offered to enterprises run or owned by women, start-ups by women and enterprises where most employees are women.
During the spring, Ambassador Signe Burgstaller visited several companies run by women, whom have all received support through the WiB programme. Women from the capital Chisinau, Comrat in the Gagauzian region and the village of Sadaclia told stories about how they became entrepreneurs. They described their achievements, challenges and future plans as well as the impact of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement that Moldova has signed with the EU.
Higher quality and less wasted material in a shorter time
In a white building in central Chisinau, we meet the General Manager of Velitextil Plus SRL, Veronica Pentelei. The company produces clothes for children, women as well as specialized uniforms for companies working with chemicals. It is also responsible for pattern drawing for Armani Group and Max Mara group among others. In 2011 the company launched its own brand and in the beautifully decorated boutique "Créme Brulee" dresses, shirts, skirts and other pieces od clothes for children are hanging neatly.
– From the beginning I didn't plan to make garments for children. The idea was to make garments that I like and would love to wear myself. That's why the fabrics are not very childish. I like fabrics that are all natural.
EBRD assisted Velitextil Plus in the development and implementation of the automated design information system Geminicad.
– Before, we did all patterns by hand, on paper. You make one, check if you like it or not and then do the same for each size. For women it is S, M, L and XL. For children it is 14 sizes – it takes too much time! Now everything is much easier, I don't even know how we managed it before.
Veronica Pentelei says access to Geminicad led to better quality and less wasted material in a shorter time. Today the company has two persons who master the Geminicad software.
– One is pregnant. The other one already had her second child. It's good that they don't have children at the same time, Veronica says laughing.
Due to the lack of childcare in Moldova, the company's employees take turns to take care of each other's children.
General Manager at day – designer and mother at night
Silvia Lazu from the small village of Sadaclia remembers the difficulties of raising a child in Moldova in the 1990's. When she had her first child, the family barely had money to survive. Therefore, she started making her own clothes for her child.
– Even though my child was crying the first three years, everybody else was amazed by the quality and design. That's why we started our own business within four years, in 2004.
Her whole family gathered all available resources and invested these into a small enterprise. It started with a few people working in the village in 2004, grew till 17 in 2007 and in 2009 the company Silvia Bombonici SRL as it is known today was established. 2010 the company first met with EBRD, which helped them create a web page.
– Through financial support from the government of Sweden in 2012 through EBRD WiB Fund, we got the software Geminicad. That's when we really started to grow!
In 2012 the company opened its first store and today Bombonici have several branded stores all over Moldova. Since 2012, the number of employee's has grown with 75 percent to 92 and the company's turnover has increased five times.
Silvia Lazu is the General Manager and the management team of the family business consists of her brothers and their wives.
– In the day I work here and in the evenings I do the designs, still being a mother of three, Lazu says proudly.
Salaries for more people – an effect of DCFTA
In a 1000 square meter complex with a view of Comrat city, Ridiager-SV SRL has its main office and production facility. In addition to the one in Comrat, the company has also production facilities in three other towns, with a total of 250 employees, of which a vast majority is women. The Company is working on a subcontracting basis and produces women's clothes for international clients like Max Mara Group, Miroglio Group, GELCO and BIZNIZ.
– My children wanted to stay here in Comrat, and I thought in that case, I will develop the business here, we will find our clients from here and develop our country, Executive Director Svetlana Camilciu says.
A dream she has is to open a house of fashion in Gagauzia. Not only for their own brand, but also to promote traditional Gaguazian clothes. The remaining EBRD funds are going to be used to develop the brand's marketing strategy towards potential European customers.
When asked whether the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) has made any difference in terms of export, Svetlana Camilciu says:
– I cannot describe how much it has helped. Without it, only producing for Moldova would be a disaster. I cannot keep 250 people employed only producing for the Moldovan market, because the local market is very small. It gave us the possibility to pay salaries to more people. She adds it also made trade much easier.
– If you speak about working with customs in Russian and the EU, it's a very big difference. When I work with EU countries, I can make three or four export deals per day. It is very simple. But with Russia I can make one per month.
Environmentally friendly company exporting all around the globe
Another company highly active in terms of exporting is ADD-Production SRL. Starting with production of low-speed modems 1992, it gradually developed their own products. Today, ADD-Production produces and exports electronic measurement devices and metering systems with data transmission, all designed and produced in-house. The products and solutions are used for energy metering and control all around the globe.
The company's first European markets were Sweden and Bulgaria. Between 2005 and 2009, the company delivered 300 000 measurement devices to Sweden, which equals around ten percent of the Swedish market at that time.
Elena Ziborova, Quality Management Director, describes how the company has used the total of 10 000 Euro provided in support from Sweden through the EBRD programme.
– Before, in each department we used to have a small system of accounting and keeping records. In 2007 we merged all these into one single information space. It includes the work of all divisions of the company; the sales, purchases, manufacturing, shipments, human resources as well as accounting. This system allowed us not only to plan our activities, but also to follow up on results, costs and to find bottlenecks within the company.
Through a second EBRD supported project in 2014, the Company implemented an environment management system according to ISO 14001:2004.
Why do you need this certificate?
– Nowadays, all tenders we participate in require the company to be certified according to this standard. We became more responsive to environmental issues and we started to save energy, save more water and became more attentive to our waste management activities.
A third project consisted of development and implementation of a system of key performance indicators for the company in 2015, to improve the overall management.
Photos and text: Diana Savina