—By Aneta Bogdan
I dedicate this article to those Romanians usually never mentioned by the national business press: the hundreds of true Romanian entrepreneurs, known and respected only by their families, their employees or their business partners. The very success of modern state building depends on their success.
The first time, it happened three months ago. I said to myself it must be an exception. The second time, it was two months ago. The third time, a few days ago.
In December 2009, Andrei, 29 years old, came to Brandient with a proposal for a rebranding project concerning his parents’ company, a service business started from scratch 17 years ago by his mother. Andrei was naturally involved in it from a very early age. At a certain moment, he will take over the whole business he’s already part of. He currently manages the marketing department. Andrei speaks convincingly and with admiration about his parents’ business and practically he understands it as thoroughly as they do. In exchange, he brings in a modern vision and a fresh spirit. He applies the knowledge gathered during his university years and the results of his daily reading interests covering branding and marketing. He wants to take the family business even further by modernizing and consolidating the brand behind it.
Viorica, 26 years old, from Radauti, paid us a visit a month ago to find out more about rebranding. We discovered that, like Andrei, she currently leads the marketing department of her family business, after she graduated college. Her father started a business venture 14 years ago and now she wants to help build a stronger future for it. She knows exactly what she wants and she believes it is her duty to carry on what her parents have started. She speaks passionately about what they have managed to achieve. She wants to add value to this endeavor.
Alina, whose age I don’t know, but she’s probably younger than 28, was introduced to me a couple of days ago, during an event. She briefly told me about her intention to persuade her parents — founders of a business in Transylvania — that they need a complete rethinking of their company’s brand. As is the case for the other two, Alina is currently involved in marketing, but during her growing up period this business has been a daily presence in her life for the last 15 years. She respectfully talked to me about the work of her parents and about their devotion not only to their business but also to the idea of helping the community they are part of.
The new generation of Romanian entrepreneurs. I always believed it would be made of those who previously held powerful positions in large multinational corporations, as my own private example led me into thinking this way. But here we have a far more interesting perspective: the new generation of Romanian entrepreneurs could be made of the children of those who have laid the foundations for small business ventures 15-20 years ago. Business ventures they have grown facing tremendous challenges, up to the point where today those companies employ hundreds of people and have millions of euros worth of turnovers. The very same people who have raised their children while also seeing to their business. Strong-willed people who have stood up to the daily hardships this entrepreneur-unfriendly country has put up against them. Brave people who have not given up, have sold out neither their business, nor their soul, people who want to see that their painstakingly-built endeavor endure, people who hope to reach further through their children’ efforts.
These very ‘children,’ now aged between 25 and 30 years, might become Romania’s golden generation of entrepreneurs, laying the foundations of a prosperous country. These ‘children’ know much more than their parents about the future, they have their family business in their genes, for they have grown up together at the same time, they are energetic and animated by their youthful aspirations, they have a trusted trampoline to jump from, financial and emotional support through the already successful business of their parents. However, they are faced with a unique threat: Romanian politicians, including the entire politicized public administration rotten to its core. They are the ones responsible for having constantly ignored or damaged the business of those who fathered the new wave of entrepreneurs, through their blatant disregard for private ownership, for competition and for honest hard work. Cynically enough, Romanian politicians’ offspring add up to the challenge, because they have grown into perpetual state stipendium clients, inheriting public positions and unlike the entrepreneurs’ children, they have yet to learn how to respect work and contribute to it, while their main occupation is to indulge in receiving undeserved support and not to care about anything else. I ask of those among them who actually do their job properly and honestly not to feel offended by my generalization, but to stand up and speak now!
I gave up corporate life eight years ago. Since then, I have learned that there isn’t a more powerful environment, a more appropriate one for developing a fully formed human personality than entrepreneurship. Respect towards your work and towards those who help you do it better, respect for those who need your work, e.g. your clients, obsessively devoting your life to a greater good, the courage to challenge your limits on a daily basis or start all over again. These are matters one cannot learn or grasp while working in a multinational corporation. During my first years after having left Connex, I thought I had lost my ‘power’ deriving from the huge media account I used to manage. Over the last few years, I have discovered I yielded an even greater power: the power to be so close to these remarkable people, the Romanian entrepreneurs, the true builders of modern capitalist state in this country, the true heroes of European Romania, ignored by media and news, humiliated by politicians who choose to perpetually misunderstand the role these hard-working individuals have for the country’s future.
The children of these entrepreneurs create a pool of vitality and knowledge, able to revive a country where corruption and incompetence run rampant and have become common practice in public life. Nevertheless, lets us not forget that, unlike 20 years ago, the young entrepreneurs are European citizens. As such, they have the right and the resources to pursue their destiny anywhere in Europe. They are still knocking at their country’s doors. It is for us to decide if we let them in or not.