Cătălina and Victor Pascal from the Village of Zîrnești, Cahul district, turned their passion for working with iron into business. Victor is one of the few blacksmiths who still forges this metal using a coal furnace. The craft is nothing like easy, requiring lots of dedication, attention to detail, logic, and sense of beauty. His spouse, Cătălina, handles the creative part of the work as well as the management and promotion of the workshop. Their work is appreciated not only in Cahul and the neighboring districts of Cantemir, Leova, and Vulcănești, but also overseas. Some pieces even reached as far as France and Russia, being ordered by Moldovans settled abroad. This year, the Pascal family have won a European grant worth €15,000. With this money and their own contribution of €2,330, they purchased four high-performance equipment that will help them to optimize production and create original items.
The grant was awarded with the European Union’s financial assistance as part of the EU4Moldova: Focal Regions Programme, implemented by UNDP and UNICEF.
“Not everyone who welds metal parts is a blacksmith”
In a workshop full of tools and equipment, Victor Pascal crafts gates, fences, railings, entrance doors, and other pieces of ironwork. He starts working early in the morning and puts lots of dedication and passion into his craft.
“Not everyone who welds metal parts is a blacksmith. This work requires precision, attention to details and aesthetic taste,” says Victor. He learned the craft of forging iron in childhood, from his father, who grew up among the Roma community and learned this art from them. His spouse, Cătălina, has been with him for almost ten years, eventually taking over the management, design, and marketing parts of the business. “I take orders, do customer relations, set delivery deadlines and handle the financial part of our business,” says Cătălina.
The woman—a teacher by profession—admits that it took her several years before she decided to venture into this business: “Ironwork is considered to be a craft for men, rather than women. It wasn’t easy, but now I can say I love it, and I am ready to bring the business to a new level.”
“We've never received anything for free before”
A few months ago, the Pascals became confident that this craft could become a real business: “For two years we’ve worked under a business license, and in February 2021, we incorporated our business as a limited liability company. So far, we worked only with individuals, but now our customers include legal entities too,” Cătălina says proudly.
In 2021, the couple became one of the beneficiaries of the EU4Moldova: Focal Regions Programme, winning a €15,000 grant. “One evening a friend came to visit us and told us about this program. I couldn’t believe there was such a thing! We’d never received anything for free,” Cătălina explains.
As a beneficiary of the business grants program, under the start-up category, they received a grant, and adding €2,330 of their own contribution, purchased four modern equipment, namely a cold metal stamping machine, a bending machine with wrought-iron rollers, an electric tube bending machine with a die, and a three-phase air compressor. The equipment will increase the precision and quality of the works and will also optimize the cost and time of production. “These machines will save us time. If previously it would take two weeks to make a gate, now we can complete the same work in just one week,” explains Victor.
The new equipment - provided with the EU financial assistance - has recently arrived at the workshop in Zîrnești and makes the family optimistic and confident of their potential to grow. The couple wants to open a small store to sell stamped and twisted-metal items to other blacksmiths. They also plan to enter the market with a new product - entrance doors.
A Moldovan settled in France has entrance doors produced in Cahul