He started a wooden toy business during his student years and so far, dozens of children and parents have enjoyed his creations. Igor Hincu is the founder of EduJoc company, which stood out on the Moldovan market for its extraordinary production vision and for demonstrating civic spirit every time the society needed.
When he founded his toy-making company eight years ago, Igor Hincu did not even suspect that his decision to produce personal protective equipment would save lives. With the COVID-19 crisis, Igor decided to re-orient his business, knowing the reality that medical workers in Moldova lacked PPEs. And so, his little manufactory outside Chisinau began to produce plastic protective screens as visors.
Four years ago, Igor received a grant through the European Union's “Confidence Building Measures” Programme, part of the EU4Business initiative, to purchase a laser cutting device. This allowed him to expand his business, and today he uses this equipment in the fight against COVID-19.
The idea of producing PPE, according to the EduJoc boss, was borrowed from Romania. His friends who produce visors there expanded their initiative and prototype in Moldova and were looking for shops with laser cutting devices.
“Then I thought, that's what we have to do,” says Igor. “This will be our contribution to doctors and nurses and for every frontline worker. I started calling all the raw material suppliers to understand how these visors are made.”
The protection screens were authorized by the National Public Health Agency, which means that they can be used in hospitals. Within two weeks, his and partners' workshops produced 24,000 visors and distributed them to 200 institutions through a partner courier service. Others have been picked up directly from Floreni.
EduJoc expanded thanks to assistance from the Eu4Business initiative, which supports SME development projects. EduJoc is one of the 10 workshops that joined an effort started by the Association of Creative Companies of Moldova. The online platform viziere.md is used to raise money to cover production costs, publishing the amounts collected each day. Igor offers visors for free, the raw material are donated, and the work, electricity and consumables are paid by his company.
In the first days, demand for visors skyrocketed to 15,000 units. Igor’s shop was able to produce eight pieces in 12 minutes, which is fairly quick. Viziere.md estimates that the total need for visors in Moldova would be 50,000 units, so they are practically halfway.
Doctors say that the visors are useful because they provide additional protection. The risk of infection is higher when doctors remove their medical glasses after examining the person who has COVID-19. Wearing visors keeps micro-particles from reaching the goggles.
Damian Gutu, the director of the hospital in Ocnita, traveled 270 km to get his 70 visors. He says, “No hospital in Moldova was ready for this infection, and no one had funds to purchase the necessary inventory to fight the coronavirus.”
Igor says that they deliver visors not only to hospitals, but also to police departments, riflemen and other employees who are on the front line of fighting COVID-19.
EduJoc also produces special boxes for patients in intensive care units. When patients with severe COVID-19 are intubated, the doctor faces a higher risk of infection. These boxes, which surround the patient on all sides, have two openings through which medical workers can reach them, reducing the risk of transmitting the virus. The boxes are under review of the National Public Health Agency, waiting for the go-ahead to start production. EduJoc is also working on the design of a disinfection tunnel for doctors.
Adapting to new needs through creative thinking and involving business and the local community gives us hope and confidence that we will succeed in the fight against coronavirus.
“There is a balance in life: good attracts more good, when you don't even expect it”, says Igor. “When I applied for financial support under the EU4Business initiative, no one imagined that their support would generate such results during this difficult period.”
EduJoc is just one of the beneficiaries of the European Union’s “Confidence-Building Measures” Programme, under the EU4Business initiative, and being implemented by UNDP Moldova.