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Stories From The Field

This is a section for real entrepreneurs running real business in Moldova to share their experience, frustrations, lessons and insights with the community at large.

Category contains 27 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Stories From The Field
Bank Loans in Moldova

quick note: don't forget our site has a comments function. With something as complex as banking and loans / many of the topics we cover there is a very good chance that you know more about some element of it than we do. Share your thoughts!! Comments are at the bottom. 

Introduction - funding a startup

So here we have an interesting post detailing the last month and a half we've spent trying to get to a "happy spot" regarding startup capital. There are many ways to fund a startup (as this nice article explains) but for something brick and mortar like a BBQ restaurant many options aren't as available as they would be if, say we were starting a scaleable tech company. With that reality the most common way for people in the US to start a small business is by "bootstrapping" it with their own capital, either in the form of cash, a 2nd mortgage, personal credit or help from friends and family as loans or in exchange for equity. In our case we are a very "bootstrapped" company. We have our own assets on the table and have approached lots of friends and family for investment. All told this just isn't enough so we started looking to other options. This is when we began to investigate the possibility of a Moldovan bank loan.  

 

What type of loan we need

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The DMV or "to do without money..."

This short post is a bit of a departure in that it does not directly pertain to business in Moldova. That said it a) discusses a proces that any expat needs to go through to stay here (aka - registering with the DMV if you have a car) and b) exemplifies a prevelant mindset here reguarding bribes or "to do something with money" 

So... anyone who has ever gone to the DMV (the "Department of Motor Vehicals" for non-drivers) in the US is aware of what a "fun" process this is. I can't speak to any other countries in the world but I suspect that this is a universally hated institution. I once called the DMV helpline in Virginia and after 30 minutes on hold was told that "there was a higher than normal call volume" and I should call back on Wendsday. It was Thursday. So with the background of having once been put on hold for a week in the US here is the tale of the Moldovan DMV - МРЭО. 

 

After finally achieving my visa to live and work in Moldova it was time to re-register my car. I drive a 1986 Lada Жигули named Надя (Nadia - "hope" in Russian). Nadia and I have been on many adventures together but have had to take a prolonged break while waiting for my visa as her tags expired. So it was with spring in my step that I grabbed the tags off the car and took a marshrutka (mini-bus) out to where google told me the DMV was. It was my figuring that I would have to pay some fees and do some paperwork but that this would be fairly straight forward. In Virginia you do this by mail. Sadly (but predictably) in Moldova things are more complicated. I was turned away from the DMV because they needed to see my car as well. I asked them "am I allowed to drive here with expired plates?" This was met by a blank stare which I took to mean "yes sir we will personally vouch for you in the event of trouble and go so far as to expound upon your great personal character should the police have doubts." I drove in the next day. 

 

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Posted by on in Stories From The Field
On Menus...

Picture above from Listen 2 Uncle Jay and apparently taken in Tatarstan Russia. Good to know that "business launch" is not just a Moldova phenomenon :)

 

If you live in Moldova or have ever traveled here one question sticks out above the rest in terms of how constantly it is encountered and how frustrated it is bound to make any westerner.

 

Why does every restaurant have a 50 page menu with hundreds and hundreds

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Tagged in: Bureaucracy Cafe
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Posted by on in Stories From The Field
Visa Denial and Appeal

Read Me First: I wrote this originally while this process was ongoing so I imagine a fair amount of frustration and anger comes through. I've edited the post to reflect the fact that we did eventually get our visas but I have tried to keep the tone the same. This was an incredibly terrible process and I have no desire to sugar coat it just because we got through it. I've had to put a little distance between the events and my posting to even look it over because the whole thing is mostly a mess of bad memories for me. So, without further ado please enjoy...

 

Well folks you're in for a doozy with this one. I apologize in advance. If you're the kind of person who doesn't want to see things about Moldova that make you sad, depressed or enraged I recommend stopping now. 

That picture you see there is my whiteboard's countdown. It was a countdown from the moment my visa got rejected to the day I needed to get myself out of this fine country I've called home for over 2 years. It reflects the fact that for almost a month our living room became a war room dedicated not to our business but to fighting a corrupt and confused visa process just in order to stay in the country. At the end of this process our appeal was accepted and we managed to get visas. Before it did though that whiteboard counter hit zero and went negative. Read on to follow the tale... 

 

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Tagged in: Bureaucracy Visa
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Posted by on in Stories From The Field
On Stamps

So here's a topic that will look very familiar to anyone who's lived in the post-Soviet space but seem totally nuts to everyone else. Stamps - what are they for? Well in Moldova the answer is "literally everything." I first came in contact with this when I went to Kazakhstan as an English teacher and my packing list included "stamps for grading papers." My first thought was "I thought I was going to be teaching high school - why do I need smiley face stamps?!" The reasoning is because no matter how silly looking the stamp they make things "look official."

To understand this you need a little background on how things become "official" here vs. in the states. In America your signature is your bond. Furthermore your word can be your bond in contract law if it is deemed a verbal contract. I am not a lawyer but the gist is that in the US agreements can range from silly-informal to super formal. In Moldova they are always super formal. In theory this is to "control" the process ("control" being a translation from Russian for something like "oversight on steroids") and to prevent fraud and forgery. In practice this is a system of red tape unrivaled by even the darkest fears of government fearing anarchists. It is literally like buying shotguns to kill flies. 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_maRvhD-OFkRCvshAIUrLGXw.jpg

not only is this a real product but you too can be killing flies
with a shotgun for the low price of $39.95. I fucking love America.

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Tagged in: Bureaucracy Stamps
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