EBRD, EU and Sweden support popcorn manufacturer in Moldova

By Nina Tsintsadze

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The story of Sadro Ursu and its co-founder and director Simion Ursu is one of continuous development.

Formerly a chemistry teacher, Simion quickly adapted to the new reality brought about to his home country of Moldova by the political situation of the 1990s. Now he is the co-founder of a company producing popcorn, sour soups, potato chips, carton cups for hot and cold and drinks, and bucket containers. Sadro Ursu is a family company, with Simion’s wife and daughter actively involved in running the business, including its finance and development strategy.

Together with the European Union and Sweden, the EBRD has helped his company to invest in a more energy efficient future.

A time of change

“I began my entrepreneurial journey when people in commerce were no longer looked down on for their occupation. It was a time of change in the late ’80s to early ’90s,” says Simion.

He, along with his wife, Rodica, started first by importing food and gradually, step by step, expanded operations.

“We are a family business and this has not been an easy experience. Our company requires 24/7 attention, but it is also easier to be industrious and try new things,’’ he notes.

Sadro Ursu is a company that exports most of its products to countries in both its neighbourhood and the European Union also and imports raw material from abroad.

Producing carton items requires particular attention, Simion notes. His suppliers from Lithuania, Spain, Germany and Finland follow a rigorous tracking system to demonstrate that raw materials come from responsibly managed sources.

With mounting demand for their products, Simion decided it was time to amp up the volume of production, and partners such as the EBRD and its donors were there to support these investments.

For the company, this meant boosted production volumes and reduced energy consumption and bills.

Partnerships for growth

The EBRD helps businesses in Moldova, and also in Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine, to reap the benefits of investing in greener, energy-saving technologies, thus improving their competitiveness in local and external markets.

The EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line offers companies access to finance via partner financial institutions to build modern, well-equipped enterprises. Employees can learn much from state-of-the-art equipment, master new skills and become an even more competitive, skilled workforce, while also enjoying a secure working environment.

On top of that, the companies receive up to 15 per cent cashback on their investment, funded by the European Union under its EU4Business initiative. To date, roughly 350 Moldovan small and medium-sized enterprises have benefitted from the EBRD programme.

The equipment not only boosted the production volume of Sadro Ursu by a factor of four but led to significantly reduced energy costs. At the moment, the new equipment is up to 26 per cent more energy efficient than the older production lines. Moldova depends highly on energy imports, and with the current volatile energy market, every saving matters.

In addition, prior to the investment, a major study through the EBRD’s Women in Business Programme, with funding from Sweden, has guided the company on how to best introduce energy efficiency engineering solutions for the reconstruction and expansion of the existing production facilities.

“For a business such as ours, constant change and development is very important. We had small beginnings but have managed to overcome difficulties and grow in a responsible, sustainable way. Going solar is the next, big step for us,’’ Simion concludes. 

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