With the help of the International Labour Organization, a family business from Cantemir district is being expanded and is creating jobs
05 July 2021
The pandemic caused by Covid-19 "closed several doors" for Aliona Secrieru, one of them being the door of her own butcher’s store in Cantemir.
The pandemic caused by Covid-19 "closed several doors" for Aliona Secrieru, one of them being the door of her own butcher’s store on the territory of Cantemir town market, where the inhabitants of the whole district do their shopping. For three years, the shop has been the only sale unit for fresh pork originated from her own farm in the village of Stoianovca.
"When the state of emergency was introduced, it seemed as if the sky fell on our head: the market was closed, together with our store, the sales stopped, and the prices for animal feed stuffs jumped up by about three times. That's how our family, formed of four persons, suddenly remained without any source of income for several months and with enormous expenses, because almost 200 pigs of the farm had to be fed everyday", the entrepreneur recalls.
The pandemic gave the entrepreneur a tough lesson, as well as a new impetus for business development and market diversification.
"There is a good saying that when one door closes, another one opens. In our case, the way out of the situation came from Cantemir Territorial Employment Agency, where we found out about a project funded by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and carried out within the Local Employment Partnership (LEP) in Cantemir district. It seemed as if the Project has been set up to meet our needs: it provides training, mentoring and subsidies for business development and employment of unemployed persons", says Aliona Secrieru. She entered the competition announced by the Project on the same day when she found out about this opportunity.
Together with other 72 entrepreneurs from Cantemir district, Aliona Secrieru was selected as a beneficiary of the Project and participated in a training on entrepreneurship.
”It was a comprehensive training course, useful and practical for myself. I have no higher education, I learned the necessary things along with the development of my business, therefore the seminars helped me to professionally deal with some fiscal and legal issues related to my business, especially during the pandemic”, mentions the entrepreneur. This is how she discovered and at present is using the digital marketing and the online sales possibilities.
With the help of her mentors, Aliona prepared a business development plan, which she submitted to the competition organized by the Project.
"During the last year, once again I get convinced that we have to produce own feed for animals and always have reserves in the barn, if we want to be successful. Thus, using the sum of 78 thousand lei received within Cantemir LEP and our own contribution, we plan to build a warehouse and procure the necessary equipment for the production and storage of pigs’ feedstuffs. This will help us save money on food, provide pigs with natural and healthy mixture and create one more job, in addition to the four existing ones. It is wonderful that there are such Projects, which, in addition to supporting women entrepreneurs, give them the opportunity to help other people who are searching for a job. This is how we develop our business at home, together with our loved ones, and we are not forced to go abroad and look for work", Aliona Secrieru tells us.
She believes that the support provided by the International Labour Organization within Cantemir LEP will not only help her overcome the consequences of the pandemic crisis, but will bring her closer to achieving her dream: to expand and modernize the farm according to the European standards. In the entrepreneur's view, the compliance with standards is the secret of a business success.
"We raise pigs without acceleration, i.e., they are fed on time with a natural mixture, without additives. The animals are kept in healthy conditions, because we have a sewerage system and we respect the hygienic and ecological norms. We also have our own animal slaughter unit. All these things give us the opportunity to sell high quality meat and to have permanent customers ", says Aliona Secrieru.
Three years ago, the entrepreneur started her business as a peasant’s household with only a few breeding pigs. One year after, she built the animal slaughter unit, opened the butcher shop, she moved on and registered an individual enterprise and now there are about 200 pigs in the farm. However, as the demand for high-quality pork is growing, Aliona Secrieru plans to expand her farm.
"However, it is not enough to wish something; you still need money, knowledge in entrepreneurship and, of course, a lot of patience to deal with all bureaucratic procedures. The only assistance that I have received so far, has been given by the International Labour Organization and the National Employment Agency, this being a valuable help for us because it is offered in the period of acute crisis", says Aliona Secrieru. The entrepreneur considers that the development of small businesses, such as hers, contributes to the well-being of the region in general, this being a tangible path to overcoming any economic crisis, even the one caused by the pandemic.