Soroca: A city of promising startups and a brighter future

A close partnership between Finland and Moldova has lasted for the past eight years, and has consisted of a variety of projects. Guided by the common principles of community cohesion, social justice and belief in gender equality, two NGOs, Filantropia (Finland) and Soarta (Moldova) felt compelled to be part of meaningful change in the local communities of Soroca and Moldova.

Soroca is a city on the Dniester river. Its history goes back to the sixteenth century. It has beautiful nature and landscapes, and everything needed to lead a peaceful life. Nevertheless, life in Soroca is hard. Corruption and the socio-economic and political situation constantly threaten people’s well-being and stability, forcing people into looking for jobs in Russia and the EU.

Behind the statistics and a great variety of data on poverty and society easily accessible online, stand real people and families with different stories, lives, sorrows, and happy moments. When you are young, you struggle with anxieties. There is no one to turn to, because you family is forced to work abroad. It is so easy to be misled and to lose yourself.

Human trafficking and exploitation is one of the present dangers in the region. The danger of being trafficked is one reason why it is so important for the most vulnerable people in society to have a place where they can receive consultation and share their concerns.

Youth clubs organize different activities and gather the young people of neighboring communities. Involving children and teens in sports, social events, and cultural events is done not only for the sake of entertainment, but for the sake of creating strong bonds and friendships so important&nbsp for the future.

In Șirăuți community families, living below the poverty line, were given an opportunity to change their lives for the better. In an encouraging and supportive environment, a project was begun to strengthen community cohesion and render support for starting businesses. After weeks of trainings, meetings, and peer feedbacks, 10&nbsp family businesses&nbsp – small, but filled with hope and belief in them – were started: nut and raspberry orchards, rabbit, chicken and cattle farms, greenhouses, and apiaries. A store that first focused on books now sells icons and church plate.

These businesses may sound simple, but each meets a need. Of course, there are everyday obstacles to overcome: not everything goes smoothly, someone falls ill, someone urgently needs a car. However, these challenges are a part of the experi-ence of starting a business.&nbsp Participants have been sharing their joys and sorrows with each other, and have come to see that others are eager to help them, and people are always eager to help their partner.

The Women Entrepreneurs Network (WEN) was founded for this purpose. It holds meetings, provides business coaching, consulting and trainings, along with charity events, in which hundreds of people have taken part and from which many have benefited. WEN is also responsible for maintaining contact with the governmental District Council and discussing future community development prospects.

It is important to underline that the project is meant to be self-sustaining. Every year 10 percent of income generated by the businesses is invested in new businesses. The Finnish-Moldovan cooperation provides families with school supplies and food, organizes summer camps, and the new enter-prises it has started provide jobs for others. Through these efforts, the dangers threatening the region have begun to be addressed. With a lessened need for people to go abroad to find work, the danger of trafficking has been reduced. Soroca is on its way to becoming a successful community which is able to set an example for its neighbors. No one is neglected. No good deed is left unnoticed.

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