September 14, 2016 – The first annual Donors Forum for Business Development in Moldova and Upcoming Opportunities was held at the Codru Hotel in Chisinau, Moldova. The conference was organised by DevelopmentAid to enhance relationships between local stakeholders, bilateral and multilateral donors and private-sector companies from Moldova and around the globe.
Dignitaries present at the conference included: HE Pirkka Tapiola, European Union Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova; HE Daniel Ionita, Romanian Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova; Tudor Copaci, Secretary General of the Government of the Republic of Moldova; Veronica Vragaleva, Deputy Minister of Finance; Vitalie Tarlev, Deputy Minister of Information Technology and Communication; and Vasile Luca, Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
The Donors Forum conference began with panel discussions on how to better assist Moldova on its path to becoming a full member of the European Union. The panel opened with remarks from Ambassador Tapiola, who spoke about structural challenges to the formation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to foster growth in the middle class. He also addressed the use of returning emigrants’ financial and knowledge capital to improve Moldovan society.
‘It is essential for Moldova to integrate with the greater European family, including agencies present here such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank, to better address financial and structural reforms,’ said the ambassador. ‘Over 99% of EU enterprises are SMEs, while in Moldova the figure is around 97%. Although this figure is encouraging, unfortunately, many of the SMEs in Moldova are not generating a lot of income and are barely surviving. We need to work together to promote these businesses to help grow the middle class, the backbone of every healthy and prosperous society.’
Ambassador Ionita then spoke about the special relationship between Romania and Moldova and emphasised how Moldova needs continuing assistance to maintain forward momentum on its path towards membership of the European Union. ‘Healthy and profitable businesses are essential for the sustainable development of Moldova,’ said the ambassador. ‘Indeed, business is the blood and brains of the economy.’ Ambassador Ionita spoke about how Romania is Moldova’s principal partner in economic and business development and described several recent bilateral projects financed by Romania valued at more than €200 million in total aid volume.
Following Ambassador Ionita’s remarks, Tudor Copaci, representing the government of Moldova, spoke about recent progress made by Moldova in improving economic indicators and relationships with stakeholders on every level in order to further promote development. ‘The Moldovan State Chancellery is developing new methods and standards in order to improve coordination with foreign donors,’ said Copaci. ‘Business development is an important priority for the government of the Republic of Moldova and that is why we have made it part of our national strategy to bring scientific, technical and other experts together to collaborate with foreign donor agencies and organisations via an accessible e-government online platform.
Other stakeholders speaking at the Donors Forum conference included Antonio Castillo, Head of Office in Moldova for the European Investment Bank; Narine Sahakyan, Deputy Representative in Moldova for the United Nations Development Programme; Elena Corman, Procurement Specialist for the World Bank; Valentina Badrajan, Executive Director of the Sustainable Development Account in Moldova; Dimitri Gvindadze, Head of Operations in Moldova for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Gerhard Schaumberger, Head of Office in Moldova for the Austrian Development Agency; and representatives from the European Commission, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit and UN Women. The representatives spoke about past development projects completed in Moldova as well as ongoing and future projects aimed at improving living standards, income and equity for all members of Moldovan society.
Sergiu Casu, Director of Business Development for DevelopmentAid, spoke about the significance of cooperation between stakeholders. ‘The private sector has an immense amount of expertise to share, and the public sector has an immense number of projects they can offer, but the process is a little bit like dating to get married. You need to put a lot of effort in at the beginning, and you need to get to know each other to find that common interest, and that takes time and patience. Which is why involvement at all levels, from donors, local public administration, NGOs, business support organisations and the private sector, which we are seeing here today, is so important,’ said Casu. The highlight of Casu’s presentation was a live.