From the economic and geopolitical points of view, 2023 began with a tone of moderation by financial rating agencies who eliminated from their official communication the term “reserved optimism”, keeping only “reserved”. Even if Romanian officials are avoiding taking these forecasts into consideration, Germany and Northern Europe are speaking openly about a possible global recession. Financial analysts say that the effects will be felt in the second half of the year and will come in the form of diminishing foreign investments and/or temporary closures of branches of multinational corporations present in Romania.
This news should cause Romanian politicians to reconsider their visions and offer the same attention to Romanian entrepreneurs as they do European or American corporations. This change should happen because the Romanian businessmen have been considered a Cinderella story of the Romanian business environment, while the foreign investors were supported and treated with clemency, sometimes to an extreme, by the government or local agencies.
In the meantime, we read in the local media the same laudation-type approach for the foreign investments and yet very little news or articles about the achievements of the local entrepreneurs. People like Zoltan Teszari, Iulian Dascalu, Gruia Stoica or the Paval brothers have developed companies with amazing turnovers all while fighting the indifference of the Romanian State.
One of the most discreet, yet visionary, Romanian entrepreneurs is the President of Grampet Group, Gruia Stoica. His company dominates the railway freight markets of Central and Eastern Europe. He has invested 100% Romanian capital into many European countries and generated added value for the Romanian budget through the huge taxes Grampet pays to the Romanian Treasury.
Why is he a visionary? Because after almost 20 years of Grampet Group works – a period marked by the group gaining majority control of the railway freight transport in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria – in 2019 Gruia Stoica acted in order to establish a railway “Middle Corridor” between China and Europe. It would travel through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Romania and in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war would have an extreme impact on the regional economy.
With a turnover of EUR 156 million in 2021, Grampet Group, the first Romanian multinational corporation owned by 100% Romanian investors, owns, through GFR, 9,500 train wagons and 225 locomotives which secure the monthly salary of thousands of Romanians and their families. Moreover, Gruia Stoica, with extreme discretion, established two foundations, “Grampet Foundation” and “Toflea Foundation”, that use the group’s resources to support social and medical cases, educational programs for employees and, respectively, for the surrounding inhabitants of Toflea village. Since 2004 the latter NGO has offered 300 scholarships, reintegrating 590 individuals into education and enhancing the professional competence of 80 teachers.
Also in the Romanian capital business league, there are companies owned and managed by Iulian Dascalu and the Paval brothers. Quite similar, the stories of the three entrepreneurs started in the mid 90’s and developed in two neighboring counties, Iasi and Bacau, by developing two regional commercial centers, Iulius Mall and Dedeman, the latter being a specialised wholesaler of construction materials and DIY solutions. The perseverance, entrepreneurial spirit and courage to invest transformed the two businesses into national brands. Nowadays, Iulius Mall and Dedeman are visited daily by millions of clients, and their turnovers have reached hundreds of millions of RON. Tens of thousands of Romanians work for the two companies, pay taxes and have consistent contributions to the national budget. The beginning of this decade found Iulian Dascalu and the Paval Brothers at the top of the Romanian real estate investors, which proves that the money they raised is not leaving the country to offshore accounts opened in exotic islands, but are being reinvested into the Romanian market.
Named “the billionaire with no face”, Zoltan Teszari is another Romanian businessman whose story could be the plot of an American blockbuster film. The Entrepreneur born in Oradea has used the skills he learned while practising Judo, determination and discipline, to establish and develop RCS in 1995 and turn it into the colossus it is today. Always competitive and expanding, Teszari is an avant-gardist of the information and technology field in Romania. Aware of the need to have an ace up his sleeve in the TV broadcasting business, Teszari made a smart move by acquiring the Romanian Football League’s television broadcasting license. From there it was just a step to develop DIGI TV and the mobile telecommunication network with the same name. That step brought RCS-RDS into the number one spot in the Telecommunications industry of Central and Eastern Europe.
The conclusions are clear. The Romanian State, through its institutions and the media, using the conventional means of communication, should support, or at least change their attitude towards, the Romanian entrepreneurs because the future may reveal that salvation from a complicated situation may come from, exactly, that Romanian capital.