"The commercial gateway of Europe" has opened for pots produced in Moldova

March 13, 2024

They are stylish, smart, catch the eye with quality, modern appearance and bring a splash of colour and originality to the space they occupy. We're talking about the self-watering Happy Plants pots made by Santino company in Chișinău, which have won over many nature lovers, not only in Moldova, but also abroad. Why are they called smart? Because they are based on an innovative concept that ensures automatic watering of the plants, reducing the time needed for their care. 

"In such a pot, a plant can be watered much less often than usually and can be supplied with water at the root, if it doesn't like surface watering. In addition, our system helps identify the amount of water poured into the pot and when it should be watered again," explains Andrei Ursu, the company's sales manager. 

Thanks to the quality of the products, the company competes with major international manufacturers. Some even ended up copying the product, but this has only motivated the team to continue working with inspiration. The manager states that Santino is well anchored both in the Eastern and Western markets and enjoys sales on Amazon. 

The collaborations so far are just a few of the company's steps towards development. One of the major sales objectives was to become a trusted partner for Germany, considered the "commercial gateway of Europe". Thanks to the UNDP project "Advanced cross-river capacities for trade" (AdTrade), funded by Sweden and the United Kingdom, Santino managed to position itself on the German market.

In Germany, 80 percent of the networks sell in retail, which means that by distributing products there, you export throughout Europe. "We always wanted to access the German market. To get there, it's not enough to be good; it's very important to show that you are a reliable partner. Previously, exhibitions we attended helped us to be seen, but due to the pandemic, we couldn't do this, which complicated our launch”, says the company's sales manager. 

Thanks to the UNDP/AdTrade project, Santino managed to promote exports to Germany, participate in training sessions, exhibitions, and find partners.  "AdTrade helped us identify a list of potential clients in Germany. Working with them helped us understand the needs and specifics of the market. After five years of trying, we managed to have a vision of this market, a good presence on Amazon Germany, find a partner with whom we signed a contract this year and we will participate together at 'Spoga Gafa 2024', the largest international exhibition in gardening,” says Andrei Ursu. 

The export quantity and the quality of the pots were achieved thanks to the closed production cycle, starting from designing and manufacturing the molds to casting and packaging the pots. The company has a philosophy of sustainable business. Santino has the ability to reuse materials after processing the product, owning a recycling plant. Moreover, standardizing boxes according to European parameters is very important to establish and maintain relationships with foreign partners.

"Thanks to AdTrade, we managed to overcome the difficult stage caused first by the pandemic, then by other crises, becoming visible to foreign partners and developing our export capacities. Thus, the company grows with much more safer steps, at an accelerated pace. Sometimes, developing export capacities doesn't depend on machinery or production processes, but on the relationships established with foreign partners and the image a company has in their eyes. This case is proof that, in any situation, even under the conditions of multiple crises currently affecting us, external support is a solution and can give wings to a company to achieve its goals,” says Andrei Ursu from Santino. 

Now, Santino has just one thing to do: to deliver smart products made in Moldova all over the world map, bringing comfort to people and adding colour to homes.

Santino is one of the 32 companies from both banks of the Nistru river that have increased their export capacities and established international collaborations within the Export Accelerator, a component of the UNDP/AdTrade project. The companies have benefited from assistance in implementing quality management systems, developing online stores, websites, or product presentation catalogues, establishing business partnerships, and other services necessary to increase competitiveness and access foreign markets. During 2024, at least 26 more companies will benefit from assistance under this component.