Discover the potential of women in Moldova’s wine industry: the story of Natalia Efros-Bujor, #WinederfulWoman
In honor of International Rural Women's Day, celebrated every year on 15 October, we turn our attention to women who are contributing to community development and economic growth in Moldova’s rural areas, playing an essential role in improving the quality of life. UN Women Moldova invites you to discover the story of Natalia Efros-Bujor, co-founder of AlterEgo winery and host of the podcast #WinederfulWomen. She’s a passionate winemaker who masterfully combines the tradition of viticulture with innovation to create remarkable wines.
”With a smile on my face, I remember how my passion for the world of wine was born. The seed for this idea came from childish romance, mixed with the right context and a kind of crazy courage. Since adolescence, I had always dreamed of driving a pick-up in my vineyard, but time and choices took me elsewhere.
In 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, after a successful experiment with some homemade wines, I revived my dream and found the time, energy and courage to translate it into reality. Moreover, I found support and partnership at home, in my family, where I had the know-how of my father, who has been a viticulturist for over four decades, and the discipline of my husband Andrei, who knew the job from the inside. So, as the brand’s designer and motivational locomotive, I teamed up with two professional men and hit the road.
My experience as a woman in this field has been full of challenges, and it still is. One of my biggest obstacles was balancing my multiple roles, including being the mother of three children. This role involves an exhausting routine. I guess Churchill said, "It is easier to rule a country than raise four children." I think he was right because any delegation of tasks still means that I am present, and I cannot skip that. But balancing these activities with entrepreneurship involves a lot of stress. Access to resources and funding was also challenging, and being a woman in a predominantly male field added to the complexity of the situation. After I got into the industry, I discovered that Moldova has a lot of #WinederfulWomen. It's more of a myth that it's only a male industry, but it's true that it's full of men here.
I am passionate about wines. Meanwhile, I also got a master's degree in the profession, went to sommelier school and developed a podcast in which I prioritize women in the wine world. I try to highlight not only the wines and their creators, but also the winemakers themselves. The charm of local wines is ensured by the story of their creators, and I am passionate about discovering stories and people. As long as you have a circle of people you inspire, you have to promote authenticity and beauty, and I think this is somehow part of my mission. That's why I promote winemakers with the greatest delight, and I strongly believe in the power of community. Internationally, I've tried to promote local wine everywhere I’ve been, but I want to do that even more in the future.
In terms of harmonizing my role as entrepreneur with being a woman, mother and wife, things swing from successful areas to grayer ones, depending on the period. What I've learned in the meantime is not to push myself more than necessary, to trust the people I gather around me, to ask for help when I need it and to not pretend to be perfect in all aspects of my life. Our roles are important, diverse and fabulous through our impact, but at the center of these roles we are human beings who do not have supernatural powers. I've learned to take it slow because I’m sure that's how I’ll end up far.
The financial support provided within the project "Support to women entrepreneurs in business development, for sustainable growth and resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential consequences" was a breath of fresh air for our business. The two vouchers from UN Women Moldova have had a significant impact on us, allowing us to bottle our wine independently and reduce costs. Moreover, the emotional support was equally valuable. For a woman entrepreneur, these moments of encouragement and support are essential.
In the meantime, I have learned to see crises as opportunities for growth and change. They are an integral part of entrepreneurship. I don't want to not have crises; I want the creativity to get through them. The COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis have brought multiple challenges, but we have learned to plan for risks and look for creative solutions.
For women entrepreneurs at the beginning of their journey, I suggest they train, with perseverance, two muscles: curiosity and courage. Curiosity to discover what they like to do and courage to act in the direction of obtaining results and profit. I also want them to create a support network, because in entrepreneurship you grow into a leader, and leaders need people to follow them. Another suggestion is not to stop investing in your own education. This is the one constant in which it is worth investing unlimitedly. And not to give up on authenticity because everything else will find you: money, power and creative ideas. It is important not to lose yourself. In search of financial and technical support, persevere and keep trying because perseverance is the key to success. Never forget to excel through passion, creativity and action, as these are the qualities that will guide you toward achieving your entrepreneurial goals.”
The Support Programme for Women Entrepreneurs in Business Development, implemented with financial support from the Government of Sweden, was an effort dedicated to promoting entrepreneurial development, with the aim of generating new employment opportunities for women, reducing inequalities and building a sustainable economic environment. UN Women Moldova is actively involved in supporting women entrepreneurs through various initiatives. To keep up to date with support opportunities for women entrepreneurs, we invite you to follow the UN Women Moldova Facebook page.