While some businesses are adrift due to the coronavirus crisis, others have adapted and used this difficult time to reinvent and grow. With the financial help of Sweden provided through the AdTrade, a UNDP project, Angela Sobol managed to access one of the largest commercial networks in Moldova, revise its marketing strategy, come up with new offers, and create an attractive corporate identity for the business. Her efforts led to an increase in sales by 30 percent.
For five years, Angela Sobol, a resident of the Varvareuca village, Florești district (north of Moldova) has been growing her business with care and concern for consumers. It is the first entrepreneur in Moldova to produce gluten-free cereal flakes, sweeteners, dyes, and flavorings.
“We chose to produce healthy and nutrient-rich cereal flakes because it was a free niche on our market. At first, that cost me financially. The business was a kind of school of healthy eating, taste education. People did not crowd to buy our flakes, because they were accustomed to such foods being sweet, colorful, and packaged as attractively as possible. We were a small and new producer on the market, so it was difficult to sell, we had small sales,” Angela says.
She failed to convince the markets to accept her product because the markets had a wide range of imported products, which reduce the opportunities for domestic producers to access retail networks.
That’s why she used every opportunity to promote her goods directly – at holidays, exhibitions, and online platforms.
Trade Forum: The Chance for Small Producers to Access Trade Networks
At the end of last year, Angela Sobol participated in the Trade Forum, a platform that brought together over 80 producers from both banks of the Nistru River and representatives of the largest trade networks in Moldova. The event was organized by UNDP with the financial assistance of Sweden. The event gave Angela Sobol the opportunity to establish a partnership with representatives of department stores, to promote their goods, to better understand the requirements of traders, and the steps her business should take for the products to reach the stores and have success.
Two months after the event, Linella chain of stores introduced in its stores the Ronți cereal flakes. The owner of Ronți cereal flakes felt that the way was opened for opportunities.
“This helps me to survive as a business in this time of crisis generated by the coronavirus. Over the last three months, we have seen an increase in sales of up to 30 percent, which has led us to hire three more seasonal workers in addition to the four permanent ones. Due to our products placed in the stores, shoppers began to recognize and appreciate our products,” says Angela Sobol.
Ronți Becomes a Brand and Product Range
The seminars offered within the AdTrade project helped Angela Sobol to efficiently build an online marketing strategy.
According to Angela Sobol, the COVID-19 epidemic became a cornerstone for her business and make her rethink her corporate identity, distribution, and sales channels.
“Entrepreneurs who will be able to adapt, to be creative and innovative will resist. Therefore, we developed a new corporate identity of the Ronți brand and the packaging design for a wide range of cereal flakes, produced from corn flour combined with grapes, pumpkin, or buckwheat seeds, with the help of Sweden offered through AdTrade, a UNDP project,” says Angela Sobol.
Now the businesswoman intends to increase her production of organic buckwheat cakes and chocolate glazed flakes and to launch two more innovative products.
The Pandemic is an Obstacle to Exports
All this progress brings her closer and closer to achieving an important point in its business plan – accessing overseas markets.
“Last year, we exported a small batch of cereal flakes to Romania, but the pandemic ruined our plans. In the meantime, I followed some trainings organized by the AdTrade project for the development of export capacities. I reviewed my offer and with the opening of the borders I want to expand the countries where I sell my products,” says Angela Sobol.
Although she has had many offers to go abroad to work, Angela Sobol claims that the grants and counseling services she has received so far have led her to grow her business and children at home.
“I believe that this business wouldn’t have existed now if it wasn’t for the first grant offered by The European Union in the framework of the Confidence-Building Measures Program, for the procurement of grain flake production equipment. The support and trust offered then determined me to dedicate myself to this project with a lot of passion and dedication.”
Five years have passed since then. During this period she persevered boldly and learned the most important lesson in business: to believe in success and to turn all risks into opportunities for growth, even in times of crisis.
Angela Sobol’s company is one of the 23 companies on both banks of the Nistru River that were consulted by the AdTrade project to identify their needs and provide them with the necessary assistance to increase competitiveness and export development.
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