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Conirom: passion for shoes

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“I started selling shoes when I finished school. One day, in 1993, there were not enough shoes for me to sell, so I decided to produce them myself”, says Camelia, who has dedicated her whole life to her shoe factory, Conirom, in Podari, just outside Craiova.

 

She loves the handcraft manufacturing aspect of shoemaking - “I love getting all the raw materials, not knowing initially how they are going to play out, and then realising that I have made a beautiful shoe out of them. It requires a lot of imagination to put together two different elements and create something pretty”, she says.

However, times have changed since then and Camelia has had to diversify production lately: “Today it’s not as easy as it was when I started. There is no specialized schooling for shoe making anymore, so there are fewer individuals that I can hire. So now I also make cardboard packaging and paper cups, but it always makes me very happy when ladies come and tell me that they are still using my shoes ten years later”, she says. Amongst her best clients are Prada for shoes and different shoe-parts, and Auchan Romania, for cardboard packaging.

Cardboard packaging and cups are produced using automated equipment, which releases Camelia from having to find qualified workers in the midst of the current brain drain. “Apart from the lack of training, there are lot of people leaving the country and it becomes harder and harder to find workers with either specific or generic skills.” Camelia produces cardboard packaging and cups with the same machinery with which she makes shoes. “I try to reutilise the equipment that I have and produce different things to increase the profitability of my investment,” indicates Camelia. This is a reality that she feels applies to many Romanian shoemakers: “Each of my three biggest competitors uses the technology they have to also make completely different things.”

Times have changed and the business has evolved. But some things remain untouched. “I am still working with the first employee I hired to make shoes. We started together and we want to retire together.” Camelia adds with pride. Now close to retirement, she wants to maintain her multi-faceted business’ strong sales and repay the loan received from Libra Internet Bank, guaranteed by the EU and the EIF, which she used to cover running costs like salaries and supplies of cardboard.

Company: Conirom (Romania)

Type of business: manufacturing, fashion, retail

EIF financing: SME Initiative Romania

Financial intermediary: Libra Internet Bank 

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Romania, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/ro/index.htm

 

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