Youth Empowerment and Alternatives to Migration

Moldova, a country with a 3.5 million population in Eastern Europe, is one of the main sources of labour migrants in the region, with one-fourth of its economically active population working abroad. Poverty, unemployment and the lack of economic alternatives continuously push Moldovan citizens to take the risk, leave their families and search for better opportunities elsewhere.

Almost every other Moldovan family has a migration story to tell. But not the family of Sergiu. He believes that the key to his success is the support and integrity of his family.

"Although the times were not always easy and favourable, I still continue to develop my business and contribute to the prosperity of my family and community here, in Moldova", Sergiu says.

Sergiu, 28, lives with his family in the the suburbs of a small town called Causeni. The small family business run by Sergiu and his father was not spared by the economic crisis, making it impossible for him to sustain his family and employees. It seemed that the only solution would be to leave the country, as many of his peers had already done.

"It was a very difficult moment in my life. To rebuild the business, additional financial resources had to be invested. I found myself standing at the doorstep to migration, although I had never had this thought before", says Sergiu.

The thought of leaving his parents alone was hurtful and hard to accept. Therefore, Sergiu didn't give up on the idea of finding opportunities in Moldova. That's when Sergiu found out about the National Economic Empowerment of Young People Programme (PNAET) developed by the Government of Moldova. The PNAET targets young people 18 to 30 years old and provides favourable bank loans with a grant component for launching and developing a business in rural communities. It proved to be a popular programme among young people in Moldova, as it directly responded to their needs. IOM Moldova aligned to it in order to support the creation of alternatives to emigration.

"Creation and support of independent income generating activities are the most vital tools for prevention of migration and its possible negative consequences, offering sustainable alternatives to migration and the associated risks", says Ghenadie Cretu, IOM Migration and Development Programme Coordinator.

Participation in the PNAET provided not only additional business start-up and management skills and knowledge through training, but also a low interest rate loan. This enabled Sergiu to purchase a special machine to carry heavy loads and a mixer for making asphalt. Due to his perseverance and desire to grow, as well as an IOM grant in the form of equipment, Sergiu was able to further develop his business. Now, Sergiu manages over 10 employees, providing them with a chance to earn a decent salary and living for their families.

"The opportunity provided by IOM Moldova has given me much more than a grant and professional knowledge. Most importantly, it offered me a great chance to stay with my family, take care of my parents and look forward to see my children grow up", Sergiu says.

Sergiu is only one of 400 young men and women, including those from socially vulnerable families, from all over Moldova who have the opportunity to participate in the economic empowerment trainings during 2011-2012 with IOM support, and to receive small business development grants to start entrepreneurial activities to build their future at home. On a competitive basis there will be around 100 small grants of up to 2000 Euros disbursed to the best and most sustainable business plans whose implementation will be monitored alongside further consultancy assistance.

For more information, please contact Tatiana Jardan, IOM Moldova, tjardan@iom.int

(Inset) Sergiu is driving a new forklift truck bought as a part of the IOM grant. After participation in PNAET programme, Sergiu managed to enlarge his family construction business. © IOM 2010