Anatol Malancea from Moldova became acquainted with the Dutchman Aart Koelewijn through their involvement in helping Moldovan orphanages for fifteen years. “What we did was good. But what is truly needed are fathers who are present for their children, emotionally and physically. In many Moldovan families, at least one person, often the father, works abroad. The children are left behind, and grow up without their parents. These kids are often referred to as ‘social orphans’. How can we encourage men to stay here, work towards building stable families, and make a meaningful impact?”
Anatol’s prayers and dreams to make more impact were answered at the end of 2014. He met Klaas Evers during a Business as Mission ‘Open Network’ conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Evers, the Chairman of Worldpartners, gave a lecture on ‘Business as Mission’ in the United States. This led to a conversation between the two. Anatol recalls, “It was a divine connection, and we discovered that we both knew Aart Koelewijn. A few weeks later, we met wit the three of us in Moldova.”
Tradition meets innovation
Things progressed, and in 2016, Uniqa was established – a factory that produces patented wall panels for complete prefab houses. Anatol explains, “My previous employer in America was a lighting company that thrived on innovation and change. I, too, have a penchant for novel ideas and innovation. Moldova, being a former communist country, clings to many ‘old-fashioned’ practices that are either inaccessible or difficult to obtain. You can see this in the construction style prevalent here. Many houses are built using traditional methods, with incremental progress made whenever funds are earned from abroad. On average, this process takes three to ten years for a house. Fellow Moldovan are skeptic and find it hard to believe that a house can be constructed within ten working days in a factory. However, once they witness it firsthand, their doubts evaporate. The prevailing culture revolves around building with stone and cement. In fact, even a traditional wedding song pays homage to the construction of a solid stone house, highlighting the deep-rooted nature of traditional building practices in our society.”
“We extensively employ wood, a natural and ecologically friendly resource – in our manufacturing processes.”
Environmentally conscious endeavors
Sustainability is hot topic at the moment, and our house-building endeavors contribute significantly to reducing CO2 emissions. The implementation of our wall panels yields a twofold benefit: meaningful environmental impact and substantial efficiency gains. We extensively employ wood, a natural and ecologically friendly resource – in our manufacturing processes.
New old workspace
Our workspace resides in a renovated Soviet factory building located in Stefan Voda, in the South East of Moldova. This region is burdened with significant economic disparities, and unemployment. The factory hall was unused for two decades until we breathed new life into it. Our vision encompasses stimulating the local economy and empowering the community, promoting increased regional participation and enabling independent decision-making.
Another innovation we implement is the concept of “smart houses.” Home automation, known as domotics, involves automating processes and tasks in a house. These functions can be controlled through a smartphone from the distance or a touchscreen panel mounted on the wall. This technology allows for temperature control, lighting and music adjustments, opening and closing of windows, and controlling window screens, etc. We can prepare and integrate the necessary chanels and tubing for wiring and other utilities from the design stage, enabling the later installation of cables. Customization options are abundant.
Nurturing a positive company culture
As a leader, I place immense importance on cultivating a company culture that fosters inclusivity and equality. At Uniqa, every individual is valued and respected. I surround myself with experts in their respective fields, individuals who surpass me in their specialized knowledge. During breaks, we have coffee and lunch together, fostering camaraderie among our staff. We provide opportunities for employee growth and actively encourage innovation, learning, and personal development. This approach stands in stark contrast to the prevailing norm in Moldova, where bosses often prioritize self-enrichment at the expense of their workers. Our company upends this paradigm. We instill a new mindset within our employees, creating an environment where they find satisfaction in their work while maintaining close ties with their families.
“At Uniqa, every individual is valued and respected. I surround myself with experts in their respective fields.”
The way we work is holistic and has multifaceted impact. Many workers have accommodated Ukrainian refugees in their own homes. One of our employees had a car accident and insurance didn’t cover it, we collected money through peer funding to cover the costs and the company matched the amount raised by the employees. When the war broke out, we assisted with food and goods distribution. We still operate a food bank on the factory premises that provides assistance to 2,000 Ukrainian refugees weekly, along with offering educational supplies and opportunities for children.
As a company, we strive to be a leading company in Moldova and participate in the European construction market. We have already completed nearly 50 houses in the Netherlands including 27 high-end floating houses in a project in the city of Nijmegen. There is a shortage of houses, workforce, and efficiency in the housing sector. Our factory can contribute to addressing these challenges. The employees at Uniqa enjoy collaborating to create high-quality energy efficient wall panels made of sustainable materials. We remain open to new partnerships and recently visited a similar company in Kootwijkerbroek, the Netherlands. There are plans for them to visit us in Moldova soon. Additionally as a company we support local ministry and social projects such as building houses for families in need and we plan to build and elderly home in partnership with local authorities and WolrdPartners. This is how I as a chirstian commit myselve to socially responsible and redemptive entrepreneurship.”
Read more at uniqa.md