Supporting Covid-affected entrepreneurs in MoldovaPublished: Nov 23, 2022 Reading time: 5 minutes
COVID-19 brought difficulties for entrepreneurs all over the world, and Moldova is no exception. Not only has the pandemic bankrupted existing businesses and significantly burdened the development of new ones, but it has also completely changed the rules of the labour market. Skill level is one area particularly impacted. In the context of a shrinking space for Moldovan small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs), and an increasingly volatile business environment, People in Need (PIN) has made efforts to cover this capacity gap through a partnership with the local Socio-Economic Policy Centre, called “CONSENS.”
With PIN’s support, CONSENS has helped 75 entrepreneurs impacted by the pandemic. The organisation has helped in adapting their business plans to the new market while providing them with the digital skills necessary to become more competitive. The aim of these actions was to contribute to the economic recovery of profit-making activities in Moldova, which were severely impacted by the crisis.
Covid-19 pandemic hit Moldova hard
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Moldovan economy is facing a considerable decline. Aliona Gurau experienced it herself. She established a tourist destination called “Moșia Ciuhrii” in Gordinesti village. Visitors can enjoy a beautiful lake and a place to serve or eat food. She organises various events, such as festivals showcasing local crafts. When the pandemic began, she had to shift her focus to local tourism and online presentations. The organisation AO Centrul de Politici Socio-Economice CONSENS (AO Centrul de Politici Socio-Economice) offered assistance. “We attended the digitisation workshop,” says Gurau. “With their help, we applied to a project where we could also benefit from a 20,000 lei grant for purchasing equipment. They help us to develop a business plan and to promote our business online.”
All entrepreneurs working in tourism had to adapt to a new reality. “We bought a traditional house in 2004 for us, for our children,” explains Victoria Culicov, who is renting a rustic house in Naslavcia village. “Since last year, we decided to rent it for tourism. Everyone coming here really likes it and wishes to come back.” Culicov says she benefited from trainings on social media marketing organised by CONSENS.
PIN project manager Cristian Slobodeaniuc explains the initiative’s main goals: “We tried to build a sustainable, competitive, and crisis-resilient business environment in the Northern region of Moldova. In total, CONSENS was able to support more than 75 entrepreneurs and administrators of micro- and small-enterprises. Our first objective is to adapt the business solutions to the new realities. The second objective would be to strengthen the business efficiency of rural entrepreneurs through digital communication tools. The third objective is to create a favourable local ecosystem for business development through sustainable local partnerships.”
CONSENS, funded by PIN through the COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership, offers its services to entrepreneurs in five areas of North Moldova. “We’ve chosen the entrepreneurs that have encountered difficulties because of the pandemic,” says Ludmila Prociuc from CONSENS. “We offer them private consultations, work on their problems, and find solutions. We use a tailored approach and help them see the problem from a different perspective. Thus, we help them sustain themselves while staying in the country.”
Many people are leaving Moldova to find a job and improve their living conditions. Dmitrij Birladeanu had an opportunity to go abroad, too, but instead, he started to do business in his home country. He wants to offer jobs for people in the region. Five years ago, he started to work in agriculture and needed to find a solution for irrigation. He decided to build big pools and pump the water to his orchards, inspiring a new business plan: “We are the first trout farm in our country. We started with 200 fish, only selling them to friends. Now we have a solid supply chain,” he says. Dmitrij says that the trainings and coaching provided by CONSENS have been very helpful for extending his business.
EU support for the Republic of Moldova
CONSENS is one of the civil society organisations (CSOs) supported by PIN within the EU-funded COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership. CSOs are trained and financially supported to be more prepared for coping with pandemic situations. Since July 2020, 10 Moldovan CSOs received funding to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 through service delivery and strengthen operational capacity. To extend the scope of its action, PIN Moldova has targeted both grassroots and well-established CSOs.
The project has a twofold approach, covering the urgent needs of the local communities on one hand, and contributing towards longer-term socio-economic resilience of vulnerable groups on the other. To achieve this overall goal, the consortium recognises the critical role local CSOs play in service delivery, community mobilisation, awareness-raising, policy engagement, and advocacy for the protection of human rights and civic freedoms during and after the pandemic. The project supports these key actors to achieve the overall goal via a set of interrelated activities that aim to address the short to medium-term needs and longer-term institutional barriers to their development.
The COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership is implemented by PIN in partnership with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and AFEW International. The project includes interventions in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
This article was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its content represents the sole responsibility of the “COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership” project, financed by the European Union. The content of the video belongs to the authors and does not necessarily reflect the vision of the European Union.