The EU4Moldova: Focal Regions Programme has a total budget of €23 million, The total value of grants for the business sector from Cahul and Ungheni regions that will be offered during 2020-2024 in the framework of the EU4Moldova: Focal Regions Programme is about €1.7 million. By assisting enterprises in buying equipment and services, the grant programme is intended to help them expand, to promote models of circular economy, to generate new jobs, and to generally increase the appeal of the two regions to investors. As part of the support package, grantees are also provided with mentorship, training and coaching in entrepreneurial culture.
One of the beneficiaries from the first SME call, Serghei Bajenov, founded Interstepcom, a Cahul-based furniture maker. A €30,000 grant allowed Bajenov buy woodworking equipment, an investment that increased automation and digitization in the company’s assembly process by over 60% and generated 10 new jobs.
"With the help of this equipment, we can improve our quality to be able to enter the European market," says Bajenov. With some of the furniture-making process automated, the Moldovan hopes to export his furniture to Romania.
In Pascani, a village in Cahul, Casa Bunicului is a farm-based B&B founded in 2018 by Dumitru and Lidia Lazar in southern Moldova. With the grant they received, the Lazar family were able to quickly add all the necessary amenities. A lot of enthusiasm, dedication and hard work turned a cold, abandoned house into a colourful, modern guesthouse that can attract international guests. Today, Casa Bunicului, meaning Grandfather’s House, is as warm and welcoming as its name and offers amazing travel experiences. What’s more, the Lazar family has been able to set up a sustainable business that can contribute to the development of local agritourism.
“Casa Bunicului is a rustic tourist resort located in an area full of breathtaking natural views,” says Lidia Lazar, beneficiary of LAG “Lunca Prutului de Jos”. “Here in Prutul de Jos, there’s a natural lake, Manta, and a number of wineries that attract regular tourists and wine lovers.”
The city of Ungheni has its share of success stories, too. Marina Cladicov founded a company called Colmirand, which specializes in handmade noodles, dumplings and pancakes that are sold frozen. With a grant of €14,547, Cladicov was able to top up her own savings to invest in modernizing the business. She bought a steam convection oven, a dough mixer, a noodle maker, and freezers.
Ten years ago, Cristina Scutaru launched a family business in Ungheni. Unfloria provides services in cleaning and washing textiles, including carpets. The Scutaru family was able to add a €30,000 grant to its own financial resources, to buy an automatic carpet-cleaning machine and other equipment. By increasing the quality and speed of the services Unfloria provides, the company was able to reduce water consumption by up to 30% in the process of cleaning carpets, and reduced energy consumption by up to 20%.
The idea of developing her own brand came to Cristina Lupu's while she was on maternity leave. The desire to make toys for her children and to bring something new to the local market motivated Lupu to launch the Bubulino brand. The young woman actively looked for ways to develop her idea and obtain some funding, so she put together a business plan, identified the niche market, and left room for a lot of creativity, in order to give life to unique toys. She added her own savings of €2,257 to a €18,367 grant and purchased some new equipment. This allowed her to diversify and partly automate her production process.
“The EU4Moldova: Focal Regions Programme allowed us to purchase a zigzag sewing machine that makes decorations on clothes, as well as equipment for maintenance and equipment to stuff toys,” Cristina Lupu explains. “So far, we have been doing this by hand and it is very meticulous.” These acquisitions will take her business to a new level by streamlining the production process and expanding the range of toys.
From Negurenii Vechi in the Ungheni region, Irina Caraus, beneficiary of LAG “Movila Magura”, has a farming business with 18 ha of orchards and 18 ha of sunflower, corn and wheat. Following her childhood dream, she started the business in 2006 to express her passion for growing fruits and vegetables, and producing wine. With a grant of €4,680 and her own savings €2,647, Caraus was able to purchase an irrigation system for her orchards, something that is especially important in dry seasons.
“Farming is not easy and you see your results only at the end of the year—September, October, November,” says Irina Caraus. "Agriculture is really a business for people who love the land and love farming."
EU4Moldova: Focal Regions Programme (2019-2024) supports smart, green, inclusive and sustainable development in Cahul and Ungheni, to ensure better life quality for citizens. The Programme has a total budget of €23 million and is financed by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).