Angela Sobol produces gluten-free cereal flakes.

While some businesses are sinking because of the coronavirus crisis, others have adapted and used this difficult period to reinvent and develop. This was also the case of Angela Sobol from Varvareuca village, Floresti district. With the financial help of Sweden provided through the UNDP/AdTrade Project, she managed to access one of the largest commercial networks in Moldova, revised her marketing strategy, "baked" new offers and created an attractive visual identity for her business. Her effort has not failed: in the last three months, her business registered a 30% increase in sales.

For five years, Angela Sobol has been thoroughly growing her business with care for consumers. She is the first entrepreneur in Moldova to produce cereal flakes without gluten, sweeteners, colorants and flavoring agents. "We chose to produce healthy and nutrient-rich cereal flakes, because it was a niche in our market. In the beginning, it required substantial investments. The business was a kind of a healthy food school, to educate tastes. People are used that this staff must be sweet, colourful and packaged as attractively as possible, so they would not flock to buy our flakes. Sales were going hard because I was a small and new producer on the market,” notes Angela.

She could not convince stores to accept her product. This is because, she says, there is a wide range of imported products, which shrink the domestic producers’ chances to access retail networks. That is why she used every opportunity for direct promotion of her products – through fairs, exhibitions and online platforms.

Trade Forum: small producers' chance to access retail networks

At the end of the 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, organized by UNDP with financial assistance from Sweden, offered to Angela Sobol an opportunity to establish partnerships with representatives of large stores, to promote her products, to better understand retailers' requirements and the steps needed to get her products on the shelves and win the buyers’ hearts.

Angela Sobol participated in the Trade Forum and established a collaboration with the largest retailers in Moldova.

Two months after the event, the cereal flakes "Ronți" found their way to the "Linella" retail network, which opened myriad of opportunities for her. "This helps me to resist as a business during the Corona crisis. Over the last three months, we have seen a sales increase of up to 30%, which led us to hire three more seasonal workers in addition to the four permanent ones. Moreover, thanks to our presence in stores, buyers learnt to recognize us, appreciate us and give us more confidence in the online space,” says Angela Sobol.

In the last three months, the sales and number of employees have increased.

“Ronți” acquires their own brand and extends its product range

The workshops offered under the AdTrade Project helped her craft an effective marketing strategy online.

According to Angela Sobol, the COVID-19 epidemic became a test ground for her business and prompted her to review the visual identity and product offering, as well as distribution and sales channels. "Those entrepreneurs who will be able to adapt, be creative and innovative will resist. Therefore, with the help of Sweden provided within the UNDP/AdTrade Project, we have developed a new visual identity of the Ronți brand and the packaging design for a wide range of cereal flakes, produced from corn flour combined with that from grape seeds, pumpkin, hemp or buckwheat," says Angela Sobol. Now the entrepreneur plans to increase her production of organic buckwheat cakes and chocolate glazed flakes and launch two new innovative products.

Thanks to the AdTrade project assistance, Angela Sobol created an attractive visual identity for her business.

The pandemic is the only obstacle to export

All this brings her closer and closer to achieving an important point in her business plan, which is. accessing foreign markets. "Last year we exported a small batch of cereal flakes to Romania, but the pandemic has ruined our plans. Meanwhile, I followed some trainings organized by the AdTrade Project regarding the development of export capacities, I reviewed my offer and with the opening of borders I want to expand the geography of sales," notes Angela Sobol.

She claims that the grant and consultancy services she has received so far have enabled her to grow her business and raise her children at home, although she has had many job offers from abroad: "If it wasn't for the first grant, offered by the European Union under the Support to Confidence Building Measures Programme, to purchase the equipment for cereal flakes, I think I would not have such business now. The support and trust offered at the time made me to immerse in this project with a lot of passion and dedication."

Five years have passed, during which time she has been working zealously and learned the most important lesson in business: believe in success and turn all risks into opportunities for your growth, even in times of crisis.

The crisis caused by the coronavirus determined her to reinvent her business.

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 improve their competitiveness and promote exports.

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