Moldova’s Europlastgrup is one of many businesses active in the sector and employs 70 people in Ulmu, not far from the Romanian border. Their final products – mainly protective work clothing – are destined for Italy. While the business has grown over time, it ran into the problem of how to expand further.
“For any company, the internal infrastructure of the place where it operates is very important,” Tudor Coşleţ, Europlastgrup’s director, explained. “We produce for the export market where competition is tough, so every cent is important for our production costs.”
Different factors add to the bill. Dilapidated roads are one of them, although the EBRD has started to address this problem in a comprehensive modernisation programme together with the European Union and the European Investment Bank.
However, other variables, such as electricity and energy costs, can be controlled by company managers themselves.
In the case of Europlastgrup, these were very high – up to half of total production costs. Furthermore, power disruptions frequently brought production to a standstill. So Mr Coşleţ called in the EBRD to help the company tackle this challenge.
The project benefitted from funding from the Swedish government and a specialised energy audit revealed great scope for improvements. The EBRD connected Europlastgrup with a local consultant who developed engineering designs for the company and helped Mr Coşleţ’s business obtain the necessary permissions for changes from the relevant authorities.
Europlastgrup then modernised its power supply and introduced more energy efficient lighting, motors, production and pumping systems.
Such measures have had a significant impact on the company’s performance and translated rapidly into increased competitiveness, said Ion Serbusca, Senior Programme Specialist for the EBRD’s Small Business Support team in Moldova.
“Many small businesses in Moldova have a great potential for expansion,” he said. “External advice from an expert consultant can often help adjust the existing business strategy. This, in turn, results in more productive processes and a more profitable enterprise.”
Such changes are good for business – and for the environment. Following an investment of only €48,000, Europlastgrup now uses 33 per cent less energy per year, amounting to a total saving of €24,000 per year.