22 September 2021

Monica Moldovan: Supporting Seniors’ Entrepreneurship

For a variety of reasons, many seniors looking to stay active after retirement often encounter challenges to re-engage with the job market. Supporting seniors’ entrepreneurship and providing practical solutions for people with these types of barriers is absolutely key not to leave anyone behind.

Monica Moldovan believes that the experience and wisdom of seniors can and must be shared with the entire community. That’s why she founded The Care Hub, a platform envisioned to connect families in need of trustworthy caregivers with independent, older caregivers. 

In The Care Hub, they choose to actively recruit and support older caregivers to work independently, thus strengthening their entrepreneurial initiatives and assisting with market reintegration. From legal to accounting to training to sales and marketing – the platform provides all types of support necessary for senior entrepreneurs to succeed. 

So far, Monica and the Care Hub have enabled more than fifty people to work independently and supplied 11,500 hours of care to the community. In this process, they are tackling two issues at the same time: building caring communities for all ages and supporting seniors’ entrepreneurship

We have invited Monica to share her and The Care Hub’s story with us. This is what she told us:

Q: Monica, how would you describe yourself in a few words?

A: I am a dreamer, a humanitarian and a pioneer.

 Q: What is your purpose, professionally and personally?

A:  My purpose is to make the world around us fairer for everyone.

Professionally, I do it by building more caring communities for all ages, through The Care Hub – a platform that connects families who need help caring for a loved one with older, already vetted and experienced caregivers and nurses. We provide dignified, paid work opportunities for older people and nurses who have experience in caring for others because we believe their wisdom and life experiences are valuable and can be shared with the wider community. 

Personally, I enjoy supporting community projects that improve livelihoods. One of my dearest projects is ROVINHUD Wine Show, which is a unique event organized by a group of disability self-advocates from Ceva de Spus Association. They gather world-renowned Masters of Wine, wineries and wine connoisseurs for a weekend of tasting exquisite local and international wines while donating the proceeds to support the advocacy efforts of people with disabilities. We’re looking forward to organizing a safe 2021 edition between Nov 5-7 2021, in Timișoara – and would love to welcome new guests!  

Q: Please, keep up the beautiful work! Now, let’s dive into your mission. Can you tell us more about The Care Hub? What’s its story?

A: The Care Hub is a tribute to my grandmother, with whom I was very close.

She lived by herself in her old age, in a small village in Romania, tending to her garden well into her 70s. She taught me that old people are not only wise but also active for many years after retirement. She enjoyed her independence and having to move to my aunt’s place during the last years of her life was difficult for her. For the following 15 years, I wondered how I could help people to grow old in the comfort of their own homes. I was also working abroad at that time and started worrying about my parents’ old age and how I could be there for them, even from abroad or when I’m busy with work. Finally, 5 years ago I connected the dots – why not help families support ageing parents to live independently by connecting them with nurses, older caregivers, or retirees from the community, who could help the elderly with their day-to-day life? That’s how The Care Hub was born.

Q: Your story shows the importance of paying attention to the people around us and their needs to better understand how we can strengthen our communities. Considering your whole journey with the Care Hub, what are the milestones you are most proud of?

A: The most touching achievement of The Care Hub and the best compliment to what we do was when one of our first caregiver partners, a retired lady of 67, told us cheekily that she likes working with us because we will never ask her to retire! 

We are very proud of each of the 11,500+ hours of care delivered to 180 families in Timișoara, and are extremely grateful to the community of 55+ caregivers – many of them retired -, who invest time, effort and love in caring for older people.  

In addition, most recently, we joined the #activeageing research community under the Active Assisted Living Programme as coordinators of the HEROES Project. The project aims to make recruitment of caregivers fast, reliable and cost-efficient to meet the care needs in local communities. To reach this objective, we combine the experience of retirees and nurses with the advantages of digital technology to create an age-inclusive recruitment platform. We are working alongside brilliant research partners from Austria and Switzerland – academic research centres on ageing, self-advocacy groups for older adults, user-testing organizations, etc. – and are grateful for the collaborative learning environment we share. 

Q: Thank you for sharing your achievements with us! When you think of all the steps The Care Hub has taken to get to where it is now and all the adversities the elderly face in their journey to remain professionally and independently active, what do you consider to be the biggest challenges for seniors’ entrepreneurship? How can businesses and the community as a whole support them in this journey? 

A: Having spoken to many seniors in the past years, we see the collective mindset as the biggest challenge to senior entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, few (if any) associate the words ‘entrepreneurship’ with ‘seniors’. The world of entrepreneurship would be fairer (and perhaps more successful) if we chose to be inclusive of people of all ages. I believe that incubators can promote age-inclusive entrepreneurship by supporting older people in the areas they might find difficult – with legal matters, taxes, and technology. Businesses can promote senior entrepreneurship by developing age-inclusive products, co-created with seniors. As a society, we can work on improving the labour frameworks to allow for working arrangements that suit the preferences of older adults – did you know, for example, that many retirees prefer infrequent work arrangements that allow them to prioritize family commitments? Finally, each one of us can support seniors’ entrepreneurship by consciously choosing an empowering narrative regarding old age – one that speaks of wisdom, experience and active choices in life.  

Q: Reflecting on the future, what are The Care Hub plans for the upcoming year?

A: Our dream is to build caring communities for all ages, city by city. In 2022, we hope to do so in 5 other Romanian cities and, hopefully, to find like-minded partners in the CEE that could replicate our model in their communities. 

Q: At this point, you are certainly aware that entrepreneurship requires, among other things, a good deal of courage. What does the word ‘courage’ mean to you?

A: Courage is when you are afraid, but yet you keep going. Entrepreneurship is about exploring the unknown and this comes with accepting that, at times, we will be afraid of what we don’t know.     

Q: Last but not least, what was your key takeaway from the first Community of Practice (CoP) session?

A: As the founder of a social enterprise that is supporting seniors’ entrepreneurship and active ageing, I struggle at times to find the right support. I’ve been reaching out to friends, professional contacts and the local community to ensure that we’re getting the right advice. I joined the CoP intending to belong to a community of like-minded individuals working towards a shared goal and building on each others’ strengths, hoping that the journey ahead will feel less lonely. My key takeaway from the first CoP session was inspiration: I felt inspired by how each story of the participants was different, yet they were all united by a common belief that change is possible.

In partnership with the European Business & Innovation Centre Network, the European Venture Philanthropy Association and Caritas organizations, Impact Hub has been gathering experts and entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups in a series of virtual working sessions (our Communities of Practice) as part of the Better Incubation program to engage over the topic of inclusive entrepreneurship. Our guest on this occasion, Monica Moldovan, is one of the inspiring program participants tackling underrepresentation issues in this field. Follow Monica and her relevant work with The Care Hub.

For more interesting stories from the
Better Incubation program, enjoy our article about Syed Hasnain’s mission of advocating for refugee rights and equal opportunities and keep an eye on our social channels for more stories of inclusive entrepreneurship!