Recently, I traveled to Moldova as part of an international training team for entrepreneurs to take part in the Enable Moldova program. A huge thanks to GEN Moldova for inviting EntreLaunch to be part of the Enable III event.
First Steps – Enable Moldova
Our first stop was Soroca, home to Soroca Fortress (built in 1499 by Stephen the Great) and located across the river from the Ukraine.
We met up with our students at IAS – Incubatorul de Afaceri din Soroca , a local incubator boasting a success rate of 100%. All businesses founded at IAS are still in operation though some have moved to new communities or countries. One issue in Moldova is the fact that over 15% of Moldovans will emigrate to another country with close to 45% of Moldovans already working abroad. Low wages, economic instability and high unemployment are just some of the reasons Moldovans leave. Entrepreneurship is one way to stem the exodus and help stabilize the economy.
Dividing our trainers into teams, Silvia and myself lead a session on building community. Our audience of female entrepreneurs largely spoke Russian or Romanian resulting in real-time translation. We taught in English and would pause to allow the information to be shared in both languages. This was a new experience for me as I had previously only taught in English and am still working on learning new languages. One of our challenges (outside language) was in explaining ideas and concepts using examples relevant to our audience. Uber is a well-known concept in the US and Canada but would not be similarly understood in Moldova. These amazing women were all working on projects that will help them build strong communities. It was a pleasure to work with them.
Our next stop took us from beautiful Soroca to the other side of the country bordering Romania. Ungheni, Moldova has a population of approximately 35,000 which is just a little larger than my hometown of Orillia, Ontario. Ungheni, Moldova also shares a border checkpoint and rail bridge with Ungheni, Romania. On this day, our workshops were held at the Consiliul Raional Ungheni located close to the one of the longest Chestnut Alleys in Europe. It is also home to their version of the Canadian Muskoka Chair (shown below).
In Ungheni, our students (an audience of women ranging from mid-30s to seniors) spoke English and Romanian making the translation process a little simpler. As in Soroca, using relevant examples when explaining concepts was vital to establishing a great learning experience. Moldova has excellent internet access though many concepts and operations are outdated by North American standards. Our discussion on touch points in communication was particularly interesting as we learned how each student communicated with their audience.
Getting back to basics
After Ungheni it was time to return to the Moldovan capital of Chisinau where we would spend the next few days running the Enable Moldova programs at ASEM Academia de Studii Economice a Moldovei.
Our programs in Chisinau included a Women’s program at the Generator Hub incubator followed by additional programs held at the Academy of Economic Studies Moldova for University students, French speaking students and local high school students.
The students asked great questions and raised important discussion points. Unlike North America, when running our programs, we had to tailor the program to work without computer access. While internet is quite good across Moldova, our students did not bring laptops and the WiFi in our particular area was not very accessible. This resulted in taking a different approach in some of our teachings and, in our pitch session, emphasizing how to engage audience through stories as they would have no visual aids when itching their ideas. Again, we also tailored our courses to reflect Moldova by looking at the local economy, identifying opportunities and using relevant examples the students could relate to. When going to another country, we have to remember that what we readily know here may be relatively unknown there. Many countries lack access to Wikipedia or Facebook. Some have never heard of AirBNB. And UBER, well it doesn’t operate in Moldova.
A top notch experience
Enable Moldova, was a wonderful experience with an excellent international team built through strong relationships founded at the Global Entrepreneurial Congress over the last few years. Each one of us brought unique perspectives from our own countries and offered unique insight into entrepreneurship because of it. I’m looking forward to working more with the students through a partnership program with GEN Moldova where we will engage online and hopefully in person again soon.
Stay tuned for more information about the Global Entrepreneurial Congress that took place just prior to Enable Moldova III.
About the Author
Rebecca Palmer, Chief Catalyst – EntreLaunch
Rebecca is a serial entrepreneur, international trainer and community builder with a mission to inspire innovation, transform lives and connect communities.
A lifelong learner, she stays up to date on new trends, needs and strategies with a focus on global entrepreneurship, strategic shifts and social good.
Rebecca was recently selected as a finalist for the Startup Nations Award for Local Policy Leadership. and was a founding member of StartUp Canada Barrie community, a delegate to the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance (YEA) in 2014 and a delegate at the Global Entrepreneurial Congress (GEC) in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Rebecca also sits on the Georgian College BENT (Entrepreneurship) Advisory board, The Simcoe Entrepreneurship Ecosystem (SEE) committee and was previously vice-chair of the Barrie Public Library Board.