In Soroca, eco bags are being produced... one of them might even be carried by you!

November 9, 2023

Elvira Benderleu

In the morning, there is a hustle in the “Interbrands Prod” production workshop in Soroca, where eco bags of various sizes, colors, and models are being stitched. There is hard work going on because, in a few days, one of this month's orders will be completed and around 1000 bags will leave the warehouse. Elvira Benderleu is working alongside the workshop employees. At 30 years old, she runs her own business, and she made the transition from an employee to an entrepreneur during her maternity leave. 

“I come from the banking sector. After seven years of working in a bank, during my maternity leave, together with my husband, we decided to try to produce something because I noticed that those who produce something are much more appreciated than those who import. So, I said to my husband: let's try to produce something ourselves,” says Elvira. 

A hand-painted tote bag from a creative workshop she attended was the starting point. Elvira Benderleu learned about the textile industry and how eco-friendly cotton or, more recently, spunbond bags are produced, quite literally on the go and through various free online lessons. 

“When we started, the room was empty, then we managed to bring in a few sewing machines, and my husband and I started sewing tote bags. My husband is a lawyer by profession, and I come from the banking sector, so first, we taught ourselves to sew. The first bags turned out very ugly, honestly, but we learned over time. We taught ourselves, and after that, we hired the first person for our team.” 

Currently, Elvira Benderleu's workshop has seven employees - women and men who produce dozens or sometimes even hundreds of eco bags daily. Among the workshop's employees are the Bosîi spouses, who are delighted to have jobs at home and no longer have to go abroad. 

“We have a friendly team. It's better to be at the beginning of a new business than in an old one. Before joining Elvira's team, I worked in this field for 20 years,” says Ludmila Bosîi. 

“It's clear that they are young people, and they started this business with a lot of enthusiasm. Nowadays, you rarely see young people doing something like this. They create jobs, there is respect in the team, and we are like a family. I've worked in many teams, from those that produced simple tank tops to brand clothing, but this is the best,” says Vladimir Bosîi. 

In 2022, Elvira Benderleu received financial support in the competition launched by the EU Confidence Building Measures Programme, implemented by UNDP. Since then, the workshop in Soroca has been equipped with several machines: sewing machines, an embroidery machine, a label printer, a steam generator, display devices, etc. 

“We bought high-performance equipment that allows us to improve the production process, specifically to increase the production speed compared to what it was before. At the same time, we can now create unique items with the help of the embroidery machine or, for example, frames for screen printing,” says Elvira. 

“Our customers appreciate the fact that we are local producers, that we can personalize their bags exactly as they want, deliver their orders on time, which is important to them. In turn, we appreciate the fact that they continue to place orders with us, which means we can pay salaries on time, the company is profitable, and we can pay taxes and duties,” adds the entrepreneur. 

Even though she is directing the business, Elvira is involved in many processes within the company she leads, from accounting to processing payments and participating in various trade fairs—even sewing when her colleagues are overwhelmed. Just as in entrepreneurship, there is no standing still, Elvira has been working on the new website for some time. It’s a platform that will further connect her customers to her company. At the same time, she is preparing to expand the production capacity and is seeking opportunities for export. 

Elvira Benderleu is one of the 13 young entrepreneurs on both sides of the Nistru River who received financial support of 15,000 euros. The financial assistance allowed young entrepreneurs to purchase equipment and obtain mentoring in the process of creating or developing their businesses. In the last five years since the “Start for Youth” competition was announced, 57 new enterprises have been created, and over 300 jobs have been generated on both sides of the Nistru River. 

The Confidence Building Measures Programme, funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP, contributes to building trust between residents on both banks of the Nistru River by involving them in joint development projects.