“Things change and you have to adapt. When you are lucky enough to build your life around your business and your business around your life, you want to choose the right partner for financial matters,” says livestock farmer Ilie Tricolici, who managed to grow his business by borrowing from Microinvest – a micro-finance organisation with funds from the European Fund for South East Europe (EFSE) and EU4Business.
“From greenhouses to goats. A perfectly logical progression,” Ilie Tricolici muses as he closes the gate to a lush green meadow where his prized goats graze. “At least in my case,” he adds.
When Ilie made a go of his own small greenhouse farm in 2007, the future seemed bright and the market a friendly place. That was not counting the glut of produce as a result of so many agricultural entrepreneurs in the region building greenhouses. Prices plummeted and costs soon got the best of him.
“I could blame the market and the competition and all sorts of things, but the truth is that my heart wasn’t in it,” Ilie admits. Then he and his wife Valentina heard of a small goat farm that needed a new farmer and soon they were back in business again.
Growing their business
That was in 2011. It turned out to be a good decision: gradually they grew their business, first selling livestock at the local markets and then expanding into dairy products. “Valentina is the star at the Sunday market. Everybody loves her cheeses!” Ilie smiles proudly.
Since 2011, the farm has nearly doubled in size to two hundred goats, and Ilie regularly meets with his advisor at Microinvest to discuss investments and cash flow. “We agreed that it would be sensible to acquire a tractor as well as some land so we can grow our own forage for the animals. Besides giving us more independence, it would also give us more control over the quality of our livestock,” he explains.
European Fund for South East Europe
Part of the EU4Business initiative, the European Fund for South East Europe aims to foster economic development and prosperity through the sustainable provision of additional development finance, notably to micro and small enterprises (MSEs) and to private households, via qualified local financial institutions like Microinvest MFO in Moldova.
Under the EU4Business initiative, EFSE has disbursed almost 14,000 sub-loans to small businesses like Ilie’s in Moldova, with an average loan size of €9,500.