Winrock Moldova has offices in 6 cities in Moldova: Balti, Soroca, Chisinau, Comrat, Cahul, and, Hincesti spread throughout the country. These offices, located close to the population, aid in the selection, training, monitoring, and mentoring of new businesses.
When envisioning Moldova Mosaic, we searched hard to find a reliable partner in Moldova to function as our day-to-day presence and representative. Finding such a partner can be difficult because a) most people in Moldova do not have the skills we need, and b) not everybody is reliable and corruption is rampant. We needed an organization that would embrace our vision for the foundation and execute it in-country. Winrock Moldova is that organization. As a Moldovan non-governmental organization (NGO), Winrock Moldova is an affiliate of Winrock International, a major U.S. foundation located in Little Rock, Arkansas, with hundreds of offices in 123 countries around the world. With a special, but not exclusive, focus on development of women, Winrock International distributes expertise, training, and financial aid to NGOs throughout the world. Originally we worked with Winrock in Chisinau and now we work primarily with Winrock in Balti.
Winrock Balti also works under the name of Asociatia Femeilor de Afaceri (Business Women’s Association). In spite of the name, they train men as well as women to become entrepreneurs.
Under a Letter of Agreement between BWA and Moldova Mosaic, BWA performs a number of key functions for Moldova Mosaic in exchange for 10% of the amount of each grant awarded by Moldova Mosaic.
Among the major activities they perform are:
They search for, and receive inquiries from, potential entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a new business. Several hundred people may show up for introductory sessions.
From those who attend introductory sessions, about half formally apply for entrepreneurial training workshops. From those, BWA selects about 20 people, who are accepted into 3 weeks of six-days-a-week, all-day-long, entrepreneurial training.
Grants are always for equipment (not solely cash) for the businesses, and, by contract, ownership of the equipment is retained by BWA and Moldova Mosaic for six months before ownership is turned over to the start-up business. If a business is not meeting its goals during that time, ownership of the equipment reverts back to BWA and Moldova Mosaic.
All grant recipients (“beneficiaries”) must have “skin in the game.” That is, they must have a sizeable personal financial investment in their business to be eligible to receive for a grant or loan. Their investment is specifically identified in business plans and budgets.
Because of the business climate in Moldova, and a general lack of management and organization skills among the people, when Moldova Mosaic began, we anticipated that perhaps 50% of funded start-ups would go out of business within 3 years. Actually, however, every project funded by Moldova Mosaic is successful so far. We are rather surprised and enormously pleased – and give much of the credit to Winrock Moldova.
This partnership with BWA and Winrock has enabled us to fund projects we would not have found without their help. Our long-term goals include working with the other offices in the Winrock network. They are a wonderful group to partner with.