I am still stuck with a few stores from that period but I don?t own them. Instead I pay a huge rent for them. It?s a grocery store and a computer service store. I can?t say that business is good, especially now when people do their shopping at supermarkets. They get better prices there than at corner shops. My clients are mostly retired people living in the respective neighbourhood. Those who can afford more do their shopping somewhere else ?
Some time ago, around 1994-6, you could make a living off these stores. The tough period came only later. Even if we owned our business, we still worked for the state. Everybody was talking about freedom but everywhere you looked you saw yet another obstacle to this freedom. Only serious businessmen, true businessmen will pull through. We, the small entrepreneurs, will go extinct! Maybe if you?re the owner of a small store, you still stand a chance. You make a decent living, without getting a spectacular profit from your business. That would actually be impossible seeing that rents are astronomical. We still work for others, not for ourselves. We work for the city hall, which asks for huge rents in the case of commercial spaces downtown, we work for the state budget, as its losses too have to be covered somehow and state pensions have to be paid on time. The number of people paying taxes has diminished ? In the 1990s the ratio was four active people to one retired person, nowadays it?s one to two.
When I realized that that wasn?t working either, I tried something else. As early as the 90s I had become acquainted with life insurances made in foreign currency. I had even began paying some insurance money ? But only those who had enough patience and a broad vision of what this field was to become in time kept paying the insurance bonuses and they are now rich. I began dealing in life insurances in 1999. There were even laws for it. As my tourist commerce ceased altogether in 1998, I had to find an alternative. And I found it eventually. It took me two years to decide whether that was a good financial alternative or not. Beginning with 2001, I?ve started seeing my job from a different perspective, I?ve had a vision and I believe in it. This is my main occupation at the moment because there are still many things to be done in this domain. And I?ve started enjoying my job especially because we don?t sell anything.
These special social and financial programmes need not be sold on the Romanian market. These financial programmes have to be learnt! Our duty and responsibility is to shape the Romanian market. Thus, from the private sector, from the trade sector, I have begun to see things with different eyes and to re-think my strategies. I think that my job suits me and I like it because at this point you have to like people. We are shaping the market in this domain as we speak. The Romanians are not a financially educated people. They have lost the ability to make savings. Financial power is low, that?s true, but still, 20 % of the total population is financially strong. And they lack information in this domain, they are not trained and they are not used to value themselves and their families.
Lack of trust could also be an obstacle. Some believe that our transition to capitalism has ended, but that?s not true. It is still going on and it will continue, regardless of our joining the European Union or not. We, the Romanians, still have a lot to reform in our way of thinking! Of course people are right to be cautious seeing that we?ve had so many financial frauds lately! You can?t expect them to go blindly for one thing or another! But there were no laws for this field in 1990! This is where we went wrong! We have to compare things with the present situation ? The lack of a proper legislation back in 1990 allowed these pyramidal investment games. They were all personal initiatives taken by people who put their financial interests first, by diabolically skilful people with guts and no ethics who knew exactly what they wanted! There were no laws, so they made their own laws and reached their goals.