Businesses that keep vulnerable families on their feet: Maria from Condrătești, a mother of five, raises chickens in an incubator

September 25, 2023

Maria Caraman with her son Chiril and grandson Matei

Maria Caraman from the village of Condrătești, Ungheni district, has been raising chickens since childhood, an occupation she inherited from her parents and grandparents. In 2021, Maria started a business venture to generate income for her family. Thanks to financial support and mentoring through the “EU4Moldova: Focal Regions” programme, funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP and UNICEF, her family has a decent life at home.

From second-hand incubators to high-performance equipment 

Maria is 50 years old and has been working as a carer for older people in Italy for almost a year, but recently a longing for her five children and two grandchildren brought her back home. Here she decided to start her own business, investing the money she had earned abroad.

“When I started the business, I invested a lot of money in old, used incubators that weren't very productive. The costs were too high and the income was too low. At one point, I thought about giving up everything and returning to Italy,” Maria recalls. 

She decided to participate in trainings about small business creation organised with the support of the “EU4Moldova: Focal Regions” programme, organised by the Civic Education Association “Future Starts Today”. During these trainings, Maria developed a business plan, which she submitted to a grant competition announced by the EU and UNDP. She was very happy when she learnt that she had succeeded.

The grant enabled Maria to purchase a large, high-performance incubator with a capacity of 300 eggs, which now helps her achieve higher productivity and save on energy consumption. Whereas with the old incubators she could only breed 350-400 chickens, the new incubator allows for 700. 

“I am very satisfied with this incubator. Compared to previous incubators, this one is much more economical. I pay less for electricity now. Before, when I worked with three small incubators, I used to pay about 500 lei for electricity. Now I have a larger hatchery and I pay about 300 lei per month. Thanks to it, I have more chickens,”
Maria adds with a smile.

An electric shredder and a forage cutter were purchased with the funds from the mini-grant. 

Eco-friendly conditions for chickens and an expanding farm 

The chickens are raised in ecologically clean conditions and are fed on grain, wheat, barley and soybeans, without any other feed additives. She now has more than 700 healthy chickens, which she sells in villages in the Ungheni district. Her son Chiril and grandson Matei help her with her daily chores. 

“My chickens have complete freedom and are raised in eco-friendly conditions in an open field. This is the secret of an eco-friendly business: the birds need water, feed and natural light to grow healthy. I sold all the chickens I had raised and used the proceeds to start building a house where I would raise chickens in the winter.”

Assistance to low-income families

Another 12 low-income people – disadvantaged people, single-parent families and families with three or more children – from Ungheni district, Cula sub-region, received financial support and counselling to ensure a decent life. The assistance was provided by the EU and UNDP through the Civic Education Association “Future Starts Today”.

“We have endeavoured to develop this area. We focused on people's ability and willingness to get involved, to act, to do something to change their lives,” says Constantin Stratulat, the association's president.

According to the study “Labour Market in Ungheni District”, developed with the support of the programme “EU4Moldova: Focal Regions”, about 30% of the district's population aged 15-64 is neither employed nor involved in migration processes.

The Civic Education Association “Future Starts Today” is one of four non-governmental organisations in Ungheni and Cahul to receive an EU-UNDP grant of up to €20,000 to help communities address a range of challenges they face. 

The “EU4Moldova: Focal Regions” programme (2019-2024) supports smart, inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development of the Cahul and Ungheni regions to ensure a better quality of life for citizens. With a total budget of €23 million, the program is funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). 

The Russian version of the success story is available for access here.