How do you like my new Toorbinka laptop bag?
I bought it from the guy standing next to me in the photo, at his small factory. The bag has a padded compartment, zippered pockets and a carrying strap. I bought it for 350 Moldovan lei — less than $18.
Dumitru Guzun and his partner opened the factory last year above a market in the town of Criuleni. My Peace Corps group stopped by for a look on Monday afternoon.
The company’s main business is denim jeans, sold under the brand name DAOS. Several of my fellow volunteers bought a pair, for the sales price of about $13 each. I wanted a pair, too, but they were out of my size.
As Dumitru showed us around, his eight employees barely looked up from their sewing machines and other duties. They were racing to fill an order. The company is doing well but, as Moldova’s first jeans brand, it faces intense global competition. It recently turned to a new Moldovan crowd-funding site to try to raise capital for new equipment and products. Dumitru also hopes to open a retail shop in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, 27 miles away.
I hope he succeeds. As I’ve written previously, it’s tough to be an entrepreneur in Moldova, but people like Dumitru and his team are giving it a shot. They’re creating new jobs and showing it’s possible for companies to succeed here.
If people ask about my new bag when I return from two weeks of language training to my job on Monday, they’ll probably be surprised when I tell them it was manufactured not in China, not in America, but in Moldova. And when Dumitru and his team open a shop in Chisinau, I plan to be among their first customers. I still want those jeans.