Young women entrepreneurs from Moldova support the local market with healthy lifestyle promoting businesses

Date: Thursday, August 12, 2021

On the eve of the International Youth Day, two young women entrepreneurs from the Republic of Moldova spoke to UN Women about how they managed to start and run their businesses, promoting local, healthy products.

Women entrepreneurs increasingly succeed overcoming outdated gender stereotypes pose obstacles for them over the years.

This story is about two young women entrepreneurs who started their own businesses in the Republic of Moldova, promoting a healthy lifestyle, and using local products. One of them is Nadejda Hadjivu. The young entrepreneur, founder of the business “Moft Dulce”, came back to the Republic of Moldova after living in the United States of America for a while. That experience inspired her to establish her own enterprise in her home country. She produces peanut butter and healthy chocolate, which does not contain beet sugar, gluten or milk.

Nadejda Hadjivu, founder of “Moft Dulce.” Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obrej
Nadejda Hadjivu, founder of “Moft Dulce.” Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obrej

“When I came back to Moldova, I noticed that we don’t have a large product assortment. There were just peanut butters containing palm oil, different additives and sugar. Thus, I started producing healthy snacks. I use healthy ingredients, stevia, coconut sugar, products recommended even to children. There are too many low quality food products on our local market”, Nadejda says.

Nadejda mostly uses local products, especially hazelnuts. Besides finding raw materials, she undertakes a lot of activities in her company.

„I use to buy hazelnuts from a woman who has ecological, very sweet peanuts. I import some cashew nuts and peanuts but the majority of products are local ones. (...) I undertake technological activities, being a production manager, a head of office and an accountant, tracking my business. As the workload increases, a young food technologist helps me. A while ago, we used to produce 50-70 kilograms of peanut butter per hour but the new mill which was bought along with other equipment using the grant from The Organization for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprise Sector (ODIMM) and UN Women, can produce up to a tonne”, she says.

The young entrepreneur says that at the beginning she made a lot of mistakes, as she didn’t have knowledge in business administration. Moreover, she had to make more effort to be taken seriously when she decided to start her business.

Nadejda Hadjivu, founder of “Moft Dulce.” Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja
Nadejda Hadjivu, founder of “Moft Dulce.” Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja

“I think 80% of my actions were wrong. I started working without necessary knowledge and I learned from my mistakes. I have burned over 100 kilograms of nuts while testing. Many people don’t take you seriously when you are young, especially when you need to have an official business. It is necessary to be very persistent, and follow your dreams. At the begining, many people said that it is impossible, that we would close our business but it’s been a year”, Nadejda said. At last, the entrepreneur says that she has the ambition to reach romanian market. She believes it is achievable, as she has analysed the experiences of other local business which managed to do this.

Victoria Sobol is another young entrepreneur running a family beekeeping business. Besides promoting a healthy lifestyle, she wants to contribute to mental wellbeing of people who visit the resting place from Braviceavillage, Calaras district. An innovation promoted by „Stupina Codrilor”, the business managed by Victoria, is buzzing therapy, which, according to her, has a beneficial impact on mental wellbeing.

Victoria Sobol, manager of “Stupina Codrilor.” Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja
Victoria Sobol, manager of “Stupina Codrilor.” Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja

“We started this activity together with my husband who was a student at the department of apiculture, and myself at the department of finance and economics. Then we decided to start a business with the aim to have a resting place for people interested in bees’ activities and life. We wanted them to have excursions outdoors, to taste agricultural products, to learn about their benefits, and to undertake buzzing therapy tested by a few entrepreneurs from the Republic of Moldova. It is a successful one, and we decided to start such a business, especially because we have a very good environment for bee development”, the entrepreneur says.

Victoria Sobol, manager of “Stupina Codrilor.” Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja
Victoria Sobol, manager of “Stupina Codrilor.” Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja

“Besides buzzing therapy, we have accommodation places for our visitors and excursions to apiary with protection equipment. We explore the hives together, and if there is some honey, we extract it together, testing the products we have besides honey. Also, we have little houses for apitherapy. There are places for 2 people who lie down on the bee bed and get relaxed in those little houses. It is a very important moment to forget about all worries, letting the vibrations created by bee buzzing to work on our health and nervous system, as we are all having a stressful period, full of worries”.

Victoria and her husband work on equal terms. She said she was encouraged to continue, especially by grant opportunities.

Victoria Sobol, manager of “Stupina Codrilor.” Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja
Victoria Sobol, manager of “Stupina Codrilor.” Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja

“People often ask me how difficult is it to work in an apiary as a woman. I prove every day that a woman can be a beekeeper.We hope to employ more people in the future and extend our business. I should come to fairs and excursions. Sometimes it is quite difficult to manage our time but we try to. We equally share our responsibilities with my husband. We don’t get bored. We both are excited”, Victoria said.

The young entrepreneurs are beneficiaries of the UN Women’s regional project ‘Responding to the urgent needs of women and girls in marginalized and vulnerable situation exacerbated by COVID-19 in Europe and Central Asia’ (June 2020 to May 2021), implemented by ODIMM and the financial support of Japan.

According to a research conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics from the Republic of Moldova in 2018, supported by UN Women Moldova, UNDP Moldova and Sweden, the potential of women entrepreneurs is not harnessed, especially in the fields where women may come with technological innovations which could improve the way we develop the society, in all aspects of life. However, having ambitions to develop and be well-known on local and international market, women who decide to enter this field are sure that efforts made by them are essential for the development of local and national economy.