In the words of Natalia Efros-Bujor: “Never forget to excel through passion, creativity and action”
Natalia Efros-Bujor, co-founder of AlterEgo boutique winery and the host of the podcast #WinederfulWomen, is a woman entrepreneur and a passionate winemaker who masterfully combines the tradition of viticulture with innovation to produce exceptional wines. She is also among the 100 women entrepreneurs representing Moldova’s key agri-food industries at the upcoming Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO 2023 satellite event on 21 – 22 October 2023 in Chișinău, Moldova.
With a smile on my face, I remember how my passion for the world of wine was born. The seed of this idea came from childish romance, mixed with the right context and a touch of courage. Since my adolescence, I had nurtured a dream of driving a pickup truck in my vineyard, but time and life’s choices led me in a different direction.
In 2020, amid the pandemic, after a successful experiment with homemade wines, I revived my dream and found the time, energy and courage to turn it into reality. Moreover, I found support and partnership within my own family. My father, a viticulturist for over four decades, provided his wealth of knowledge, and my husband Andrei, with his insider understanding of the field, contributed with discipline. So, as the brand’s designer and motivating force behind it, I teamed up with two professional men and hit the road.
My journey as a woman in this field has been rife with challenges, and it continues to be so. Balancing multiple roles, including that of a mother to three children, is a taxing routine. Juggling these responsibilities with entrepreneurship adds another layer of stress. Access to resources and funding was also challenging and being a woman in a predominantly male-dominated field added to the complexity of the situation. Upon entering the industry, I discovered that Moldova has a lot of #WinederfulWomen. It's more of a misconception that it's solely a male-dominated industry, but it's true that it's full of men here.
I am passionate about wines. Alongside my journey, I earned a master's degree in the profession, attended sommelier school, and launched a podcast where I prioritize women in the wine world. I try to highlight not only the wines and their creators but also the winemakers themselves. The charm of local wines is intertwined with the stories of their creators, and I am passionate to uncover stories and people. When you have a circle of people you inspire, you have to promote authenticity and beauty. I think this is somehow part of my mission, and that’s why I promote winemakers with the greatest delight. I firmly believe in the power of community. Internationally, I've tried to promote local wine everywhere I’ve been, and I aspire to do even more in the future.
In the meantime, I have learned to see crises as opportunities for growth and change. They are an integral part of entrepreneurship. I don't want to avoid crises; I aspire to navigate them creatively. The challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the energy crisis presented multiple challenges, but we have learned to plan for risks and look for creative solutions.
For women entrepreneurs at the beginning of their journey, I recommend cultivating two essential attributes with unwavering perseverance: curiosity and courage. Foster curiosity to discover what you really like to do and courage to act towards achieving tangible results and profit. I also want them to create a support network, because in entrepreneurship you grow into a leader, and leaders need people to follow them. Another piece of advice is never to cease investing in your own education. Lastly, don’t give up on authenticity, for everything else will eventually fall into place: money, power and creative ideas. In search of financial and technical support, persevere and persist, as perseverance is the key to success. Never forget to excel through passion, creativity and action, as these are the qualities that will guide you towards achieving your entrepreneurial goals.”
Launched in 2021, the Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO is a unique partnership platform to promote women’s entrepreneurship ecosystem building in the Europe and Central Asia region. EXPO provides an interactive space for women entrepreneurs, investors and private sector representatives for networking and collaboration, peer learning, ideas generation, capacity building and business development. EXPO 2023 is organized by UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia in partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Yıldız Holding as part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator supported by Mary Kay.