Good evening ladies and gentlemen and distinguished guests. Minister of Education Adrian Curaj, Minister of Labor Dragos Pislaru, it is a pleasure to have you here. Thank you for attending the U.S. Embassy and TechLounge’s 2016 Entrepreneurship Evening, a celebration of Romanian entrepreneurship and innovation.
President Obama believes in the power of entrepreneurship, and we enthusiastically support his vision through our work at the U.S. Embassy. We believe that entrepreneurship can lead Romania into prosperity. Tonight, we celebrate entrepreneurs; daily, we support new and emerging entrepreneurs, promoting positive examples of people and businesses doing impressive, laudable work and their impact on the Romanian economy. Our goal for tonight is to showcase Romanian entrepreneurship.
Additionally, we hope to connect successful, well-established entrepreneurs with aspiring students and young professionals who also want to become future entrepreneurs. These young people, some of whom are in the audience, represent Romania’s competitive advantage and its best resource: a multi-lingual, tech-savvy and globally-minded population that wants a better future.
We are glad to see the whole of Romanian society represented here: students and student organizations, government officials and university professors, successful entrepreneurs, innovation and technology hubs and non-profit organizations that support entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship and new businesses can be the drivers of sustainable economic growth in Romania. But entrepreneurs cannot do it alone. The government must create a transparent, stable, and predictable business environment and establish a legal and regulatory framework that supports entrepreneurship. People will not take risks, and banks will not make loans, unless they believe the rules of the game will not change overnight; unless they know that an investment made today will be given time to grow and prosper. To improve its business climate, Romania must simplify the bureaucratic process. According to the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business Report,” opening a business in Romania requires 8 days and 5 procedures in 2016, showing no improvement over 2015. Reducing bureaucratic hurdles for Romanian entrepreneurs will both accelerate the number of new businesses and increase the number of successful businesses. Additionally, the government has to help by investing in education. Unfortunately, at 4.5 percent of GDP in 2016, investment in education in Romania is well below the EU member state average of 5.4 percent. Our November Entrepreneur of the month honoree noted this necessity, by quoting the Confucian proverb: “If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.” A solid education provides the critical skills that people need to seize opportunities in this global economy.
Tonight, we will learn about 12 successful entrepreneurs, their new businesses and the jobs they created and still are creating. Also, we will learn about the 10 weekly winners from our AntreprenorulLunii Facebook contest, who posted a short video answering a challenge question from one of our Entrepreneurs of the Month. We will also find out who will win the contest’s final prize.
Additionally, I’d like to acknowledge and congratulate the three Romanian entrepreneurs who will attend the seventh annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in California this year: Vlad Craioveanu, co-founder of ImpactHub, a global co-working and event space, Catrinel Fratean from Fotocolaj, an app that helps design photo albums and Elena Cobianu, from Decadoo, a website that helps people find the best gifts for their loved ones. They will spend three days networking, learning and interacting with American and global entrepreneurs and investors and will bring back new skills and knowledge to share with their entrepreneurial ecosystem. Catrinel, Vlad, Elena, I look forward to hearing about your experiences in Silicon Valley.
Finally, please enjoy the wine. It is from Senator Wines, our very first Entrepreneur of the Month, whom we selected for promoting Romanian vintages abroad and building Brand Romania.
U.S. Embassy Entrepreneur of the Month Winners
I would like to review the 12 Entrepreneurs that U.S. Embassy Bucharest honored in 2015.
January: Lucian Neacsu, Senator Wines
For promoting Romanian vintages abroad and building Brand Romania
February: Andrei Pitis, Vector Watch
For being a serial entrepreneur and giving back to the IT community
March: Lunca Somesului Mic
For building an effective cooperative through trust in one another
April: Atelierul de Pânză
For reminding us that entrepreneurship can be motivated by the desire to better our society and the environment
May: Alina Calin and Mihai Cosmoiu, MIRA Rehab
For applying IT skills to healthcare
June: Clătităria ClaTos
For proving that business opportunities both big and small are plentiful in the Romanian economy
July: COBRALI 2000
For recognizing the business opportunities associated with a growing U.S. military presence
August: Modpack System
For capitalizing on an expanding presence of multinational manufacturing firms
September: Dumitru and Florentina Toader, Romina Furniture
For demonstrating how a small Romanian manufacturer can successfully export top quality products
October: Alexandru Grigorescu, Bucharest Walks
For turning his passion for architecture, history and Romanian heritage into a business
November: Ana Maria Brezniceanu, Montessori School of Bucharest
For leveraging her experiences abroad to bring diversity in educational curricula to Romania
December: Stefanel Carlescu and Teodor Loghin, Qodemo
For building international relationships from outside of Bucharest, showing that any business can go global