SOURCE: AXcess News

July 08, 2005 06:00 ET

World Bank Aids CIS Countries, Entrepreneurism Shines

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 8, 2005 -- AXcess News has released a story covering the World Bank's latest round of loans to the Ukraine and a deeper look at the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) poorest country, Moldova, and the entrepreneurism found there in one small company who braved poverty to become the first company to ever list shares to trade on a U.S. stock exchange.

The World Bank announced a new round of loans for the Ukraine Wednesday sparking hopes of further economic development aid in some of the poorest countries in the Commonwealth of Independent states (CIS).

"The Ukrainian government has set out an ambitious agenda designed to transform the economic and social development of the country, and to enhance Ukraine's role in the global economy," said Paul Bermingham, World Bank Director for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.

Following the break-up of the former Soviet Union, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (the Low-Income CIS-7 countries) faced a triple challenge to build new states, democratic institutions, and market economies.

The European Union along with the United States has offered CIS-7 countries their help, mostly in the form of economic aid and loan programs. The World Bank has budgeted $90 million in loans for Moldova for the 2005-2008 period. Moldova is the poorest European country with average income of only $420 a month, one-third the average cost of renting an apartment in the USA.

Being the poorest country in Europe, Moldova is trying hard to climb out of poverty, and entrepreneurship there is thriving. In January-May 2005, Moldova exported $125 million worth of wines -- up 8% against the same period in 2004, and 82% of that amount went to the Russian Federation.

Moldovan Agri-Industrial Agency Director General Mr. Valeriu Mironescu said that a French company with 40,000 wine shops it distributes to has shown interest in 20 Moldovan wine varieties.

"We have sent specimens of these wines, and the French side will decide which wines they will be buying, and in which amounts. These questions will be agreed on directly with wine producers, not with the Agency," said Mironescu.

The Director said that only 8% of Moldovan wine exports go to the European market. There, prices are 2 and even 3 times higher than the ones paid in former Soviet republics. "So each European buyer is extremely valuable to us," said Mironescu.

One of those wineries that stand out in bold entrepreneurism in the face of financial depression is Lion-Gri International, Inc. (OTC BB: LGII). LGI is the only Moldovan Company to ever trade publicly on a stock exchange in the United States. Led by Greg Sonic, a strong-willed and determined man, Lion-Gri International, Inc. has grown into one of the largest wine producers in Moldova, exporting 120 varieties of wine and alcohol products throughout Russia, Denmark, Poland, Western Europe and the United States. Sonic's company ships more than 16 million bottles of wine annually and, according to Mironescu, that number will most likely climb. Lion-Gri is a showcase of successful entrepreneurism for Moldovans and investors here might do well to watch its growth.

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