In recent years, tourism has become an industry of growing importance for Moldova’s economic health. Moldovans eager to contribute to this development have taken advantage of EU programmes to launch of a number of unique businesses: an Asian-style yurt village, scenic route through a historical region of Moldova, a salt grotto, and even SUP tours on water.
Two EU-funded programmes, PARE 1+1 and Women in Business, providing support to SMEs and start-ups in rural areas via ODIMM and EU4Business encourage Moldovans to return home to put their original tourist-oriented ideas into use.
Larisa Ambrosii, from the village of Leordoaia in Calarasi County, came back from working in the EU and laid the foundations of a sustainable business in rural tourism. Her story started with collaboration with a friend from Kyrgyzstan, who helped Ambrosii bring to life to an exotic place by combining local and Kyrgyz culture. They built 12 authentic yurts, where visitors to Moldova can learn about Central Asian history and culture. The business venture was financially supported by the EU through PARE 1+1 as part of EU4Business Initiative. An MDL 250,000 (USD 14,000) grant allowed Ambrosii to build the yurts and buy kitchen utensils.
In the village of Vorniceni in Straseni County, Elena Lazareva put together a business plan for a scenic route that connects four neighbouring settlements in the historical area called “Vatra Dumeniului” or the Hearth of God. Lazareva was able to build a museum in Vorniceni, gathering antiques and craftwork locals had inherited from their parents, grandparents and older ancestors. According to legend, Vatra Dumeniului got its name because, during the reign of Alexander the Good, settlements were called "dumenii.” Lazareva wanted to promote the history of the area. Her dream came true with support from the Women in Business Programme, through a grant that allowed her to buy a modern laser engraving machine, a 3D printer and a paint compressor, which will be used to make and sell souvenirs.
Irina Bordian launched a saline business in Rezina in 2018. With the support of the EU, she obtained a grant worth MDL 139,000 (USD 7,795) to build a salt grotto, something unique in the country. More than 200 visitors have so far benefited from saline treatment services in Rezina.
Another great business idea came from Mariana Iliescu of Chisinau. She set up a company promoting tourism, leisure and, last but not least, water sports, such as stand-up paddle-boarding or SUP. During the summer, Iliescu organizes SUP trips on the Nistru (Dnister) and Prut Rivers, and on a number of lakes. With money provided by the Program, she purchased the necessary equipment for tours on these inflatable boards. The grant also made it possible for her to promote these new activities in Moldova.
One of the priorities of EU support through the EU4Business initiative is business development in rural areas by assisting the SMEs and generating jobs. These objectives are being achieved through the PARE 1+1 Programme, which operates under the "1+1" algorithm—every leu invested from remittances is supplemented by one leu as a grant— and the Women in Business Programme, which promotes the economic and social empowerment of women in rural areas by reducing gender inequality, developing businesses, changing innovation perceptions, and increasing access to resources, services and technologies. Both programmes are financed by the European Union as part of EU4Business Initiative and the Moldovan state budget and implemented by the Organization for the Development of SMEs in Moldova.