The business incubator in the Moldovan town of Nisporeni is one of the largest in the country. Funded with EU support, it now hosts 36 entrepreneurs.
In 2016, the Business Incubator Nisporeni was awarded the title of the best business incubator in the Republic of Moldova. This article explores why it deserves such recognition and what ideas its resident entrepreneurs are implementing.
Unique, hand-painted candles
Five years ago, the Carchilan family opened their own business producing decorative candles. Their originality comes from the fact that these are hand-painted, probably the only ones of their kind in the whole country.
Ion Carchilan is a professional artist from Moldova. He is a member of the country’s Union of Artists. His works have been exhibited in Austria, France, Italy, Romania and the United States.
Angela Carchilan, Ion’s wife, is a specialist in teaching methods. The candles were just a hobby at first, but soon transformed into a business into which the family put their heart and soul.
“At the Nisporeni incubator we were offered financial support from the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Development Fund, thanks to which we bought a small boiler and several moulds. Then we won a grant with which we bought a large boiler”, explains Angela, who says she asked for the incubator’s support to get started in business.
At the moment, the Carchilan family’s business is self-financed. Nevertheless, it has had success both in the country and abroad.
“The true value of the candles is appreciated by foreigners. Representatives of foreign delegations say it would be worth having our candles shown in exhibitions abroad,” says Angela, who plans to expand the business in the future by opening a subsidiary in Chisinau.
Given that it is a manual process, the candle production process is divided into different roles. Angela Carchilan pours the paraffin wax to make the candles. Her husband and their three children, Iulia, Stefan and Ion, all of whom come from a background of fine arts, paint the candles.
Ion says that candle painting “is a [method of] relaxation, a refuge from great art”. He says he sometimes takes ideas for decorating candles from his own paintings. “Many figures are from my paintings and vice versa. It may [also] be a detail in a candle from which I get the idea for working on a painting.”
Angela says she didn’t know how to manage a business at first. “I did not know anything about employment, labour protection, marketing, accounting. At the incubator we also benefited from various training courses.”
Today, Angela herself is a business mentor, and the candles she and her family create are highly appreciated.
From clothing repair shop to mini textile factory
Prior to coming to the Business Incubator Nisporeni, Irina Timbur was the owner of a clothing repair shop. Today, the young woman manages a mini textile factory and produces clothes for foreign entrepreneurs.
“At one point, I realised I had to grow. The manager of the incubator helped me a lot. He came with the idea, I came with the skills,” says Irina.
Initially, the incubator helped the young entrepreneur by offering space to rent at a better price than the market rate. Later, Irina also won a grant from the Women in Business programme, which she used to purchase modern equipment.
Irina says she has plans to expand, but also to start creating her own products. Because she has four children, Irina says she would especially like to create clothes for babies, both for the domestic market as well as for export.
“The business incubator provides beginner entrepreneurs with spaces to rent at favourable prices, business counselling and mentoring, interest-free loans, a free-of-charge conference room”, explains the manager of the incubator, Vitalie Lazar.
According to Vitalie, “all those who have participated in intensive courses to get started in business have benefited from preferential grants and loans and have developed their businesses to their full potential”. The next steps should be for the businesses to also get into the European market, says Vitalie.
The business incubators network in the Republic of Moldova have been launched by the Moldovan Small and Medium-sized Eenterprise (SME) Sector Development Organisation (ODIMM), with support from the EU-funded Budget Support Programmes "Economic Stimulation of Rural Areas" (ESRA) and "Support to DCFTA". The EU finances 10 business incubators in the Republic of Moldova, thereby contributing to the support of around 5,000 businesses and the creation of 1,500 jobs. They are located in Ștefan Vodă, Leova, Rezina, Nisporeni, Cahul, Cosnita, Sîngerei, Ceader Lunga, Cimislia and Calarasi. The purpose of these incubators is to encourage innovation by promoting start-ups and small-scale investment, which in turn creates employment opportunities for citizens from different regions of the country.
Author: Adriana Vlas