AmCham President 2006 - 2012
John Maxemchuk was the leading founding member and the first President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Moldova (AmCham Moldova). He was the driving force behind the establishment of AmCham. He served as President for six consecutive years, significantly contributing to the accomplishments and steady growth of AmCham.
John Maxemchuk has been a leader in the business community in multiple private businesses and initiatives within Moldova and the USA. His main venture in Moldova was with Sun Communications, founded in 1993 and where John served as CEO, from 2003 through 2016. Sun Communications represented the first foreign investment in post-independence Moldova and the first private telecommunications company.
Over a period of more than 2 decades, Sun Communications has changed the media, telecommunications and overall business landscape with a long list of technological and media innovations and market-defining developments. Refusing to engage in cash-based business, bribery, tax evasion or other illicit business activities, Sun proved that it is possible to operate a clean and transparent business in Moldova while still generating shareholder and market value.
He spent many hours working and supporting AmCham and has assisted the organization to get to where it is today. During his time as President of the Board of Directors, the organization grew and expanded to 78 active members, many of whom remain with AmCham to the present day.
Throughout the years, John has taken on a leadership role in establishing associations to allow the community in Moldova to organize itself and collectively pursue its social and economic interests. Community organizing and collective negotiating were heavily discouraged during past Communist times in Moldova as it gave increased power to the community to push for ‘western-oriented’ reform. People like John are helping to enable the country to begin to prosper and modernize.
As President of AmCham Moldova, John, with the board, established a definitive ‘Roadmap’ for business in Moldova in 2009. Through this work, the Board of Directors, the AmCham team and the wider membership of AmCham were able to work on issues such as gaining investment, increasing trade and reducing corruption.
During his tenure, the relationships between AmCham and the US Embassy, and AmCham and the Moldovan Government grew stronger. In fact, these developments led to AmCham joining the Consultative Council within the Ministry of Economy and opening a new Financial Services Committee in 2010. Today, AmCham is an important and active member of several working groups near the Moldovan Government.
The team was actively involved in the implementation of the Millennium Challenge Account, the biggest assistance fund ever given to the Republic of Moldova and they expanded the committees system even further.
Since stepping down from the role of President in AmCham John has remained a motivated and important member of the Board of Directors continuing to support AmCham and as CEO at AmCham member company, Sun Communications.
AmCham Moldova will remain grateful for John Maxemchuks’ exceptional efforts and valuable contributions to developing the American Chamber of Commerce in Moldova, his ongoing support to the local business community and his tireless involvement in establishing a favorable business and investment climate in the Republic of Moldova.
More than a Decade of Leadership
John Maxemchuk and 11 business leaders in Moldova founded the American Chamber of Commerce in Moldova, one of the first private business associations to exist in the country. The association elected John as the first president, and subsequently re-elected him for five consecutive terms. Present at the establishment of the Chamber were U.S. Ambassador Ms. Heather Hodges, U.S. Embassy representatives and Mr. Gheorghe Cucu, President of the Moldovan Chamber of Commerce.
Launch of the United Nations Global Compact in Moldova. Sun Communications, led by John Maxemchuk, and 12 other leading businesses in Moldova launch the United Nations Global Compact in Moldova, an initiative first proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan in an effort to “business leaders to become part of the solution to the challenges of national development and globalization, by seeking to involve corporations in protecting human rights, labour rights, environment and in fighting corruption.” “The Global Compact seeks to bring companies together with UN agencies, labour and civil society in an effort to advance universal social and environment principles…By signing the Global Compact the companies committed to making the ten Global Compact principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, part of business strategy and operations.”
AmCham, led by John Maxemchuk, the USAID-sponsored Eurasia Foundation and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), hosted the first conference in Moldova to promote corporate social responsibility. Keynote speakers for the conference were U.S Ambassador, Mr. Asif Chaudhry, Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Marian Lupu, and UNDP Country Director, Ms. Karina Imonen. More than 300 people from the private sector, government and civil society participated in the full-day conference. This is the first time in Moldovan history that a collective discussion about the need for ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ occurred and the values and ethics of good corporate behavior established. These conferences operated for a further four years in Moldova.
In 2008, the Board of Directors of AmCham Moldova, led by John Maxemchuk, met Prime Minister, Mrs. Zinaida Greceanii and Minister of Economy Mr. Igor Dodon, to discuss the most pressing issues facing the private sector and foreign investors. The Communist government was notoriously unfriendly to western investors. This is one of the first examples of the private sector collectively advocating at the highest levels and in a public forum for reform in Moldova.
The 2008 AmCham Annual General Member Meeting welcomed guest speakers, U.S. Ambassador, Mr. Michael Kirby, Minister of Economy Mr. Igor Dodon and the President of the U.S. funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Ms. Valentina Badrajan. This is one of the first times a U.S. Ambassador and a Minister of Economy in Moldova sat side-by-side and publicly presented their views, strategies and disagreements on private sector development. AmCham members had Q&A opportunity and the chance to push back on initiatives and positions. AmCham Moldova was a major participant and contributor in designing the MCC Compact for Moldova, by far the largest U.S. assistance program for Moldova to date.
AmCham Moldova welcomes new U.S Ambassador, Mr. Asif Chaudhry. During the luncheon, the incoming Ambassador presented priority issues and partook in dialogue with private sector representatives. AmCham establishes a forum for U.S. Ambassadors to address issues and policies publicly to a collective business community. Per AmCham tradition, the U.S Ambassador received an honorary presidency of AmCham Moldova.
AmCham Moldova, led by John Maxemchuk, organized luncheons during which U.S. Ambassador Mr. Asif Chaudhry met leaders from the business community to discuss U.S. policies in relation to Moldova and private sector priorities.
In November, as part of a grass-roots effort to raise awareness about U.S. Embassy programs and economic assistance to Moldova, AmCham Moldova organized a series of “Info Days” at the Moldovan State Economic University, ASEM, where program leaders addressed students. This was one of the first coordinated efforts to raise awareness at a local level of the benefits of U.S. Embassy assistance programs.
John Maxemchuk supports the U.S. North Carolina-based Moldova ‘World Children’s Fund’ and the North Carolina National Guard in donating a greenhouse and technical assistance to an orphanage in Leova, Moldova to teach high-value agriculture, a skill in high demand in Moldova’s predominantly agricultural economy. U.S Ambassador at the time, Mr. Asif Chaudhry, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony.
In 2009, John Maxemchuk led a delegation of Moldovan business people to the U.S. trying to raise awareness about Moldova and build economic ties at a time when most Americans knew very little about Moldova. The delegation organized conferences in Washington and New York, including with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
John Maxemchuk joins a social project to renovate an orphanage in Tirnova, Moldova, established specifically for children affected by tuberculosis. The wide range of contributors included Moldova World Children’s Fund, the International Women’s Club of Moldova, the Rotary Club of Chisinau Moldova (led by John Maxemchuk), Rotary Clubs from North Carolina U.S, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Government of Sweden and many more. Overall, the project obtained more than USD $1.6 million. U.S. Ambassador Mr. Asif Chaudhry and Prime Minister Mr. Vlad Filat attended the ceremony commemorating the projects’ completion. U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton gave recognition to the project in 2010, deeming it as having the most impact of any social project implemented in collaboration with a U.S. embassy spouse in the world.
The Tony Hawks Center, a rehabilitation and therapy center for children with disabilities. The center’s mission is, “to improve the quality of life of chronically ill children belonging to socially vulnerable families. The Center accomplishes this mission by increasing access to rehabilitation services and the education of parents.” In 2011, John Maxemchuk helped rally several local groups to organize a charity fundraiser to help build a new therapy and rehabilitation center. The former center, known as the Hippocrates Center, could not cope with the great need for such support and did not posses mush of the needed technology and equipment. The group brought famous UK author and comedian Tony Hawks, a long-time benefactor and supporter of the center, to Moldova for the fundraiser. The proceeds from ticket sales and donations were sufficient to pay for the first phase of construction of the center and purchase of needed equipment. Based in part on the great success of this event, the center was renamed the Tony Hawks Center, recognizing the great support Tony has given to the center over many years.
In 2009, John Maxemchuk, through AmCham Moldova, initiated a U.S. legislative lobby to lift Jackson-Vanik economic sanctions on Moldova as a means of increasing trade and investment between the U.S. and Moldova. On two occasions, John Maxemchuk travelled to the U.S. to meet members of Congress to promote the initiative. AmCham Moldova drafted the two attached letters to members of Congress pressing to lift restrictions, both letters signed by John Maxemchuk. The U.S. Congress lifted the Jackson-Vanik restrictions on trade with Moldova in 2012, in one of the fastest beginning-to-end efforts to remove trade restrictions.
In another market-changing business development in 2014, John Maxemchuk co-founded the Chisinau International Preschool (CHIPS). CHIPS is the first English-language kindergarden in Moldova, the first International Baccalaureate (IB) school in Moldova and the first dual-accredited school at any grade level in Moldova, accredited both through the Moldovan Ministry of Education as well as the IB. And, while tuition at CHIPS is above average for Moldova, in only the third year of activity, CHIPS’ classes are full with a waiting list indicating that the founders have truly created a unique and valuable educational institution that both raises the standards of education in Moldova while also creating business value. The student population is approximately 50% Moldovan and 50% from foreign and expatriate families, in this regard, CHIPS has created a truly international environment for pupils with an international curriculum.
On January 15 2016, Monitor Officials published the Fiscal Inspector’s list of top tax payers in Moldova, later published in the local newspaper, Logos Press, where Sun Communications were ranked as the 27th top tax payer in the country. Sun Communications is not even close to being the 27th largest company in Moldova in terms of revenue or profit and yet is among the top taxpayers, suggesting that Sun Communications pays its taxes where others may not.
In the clearest indication of the value created by Sun Communications and the potential for success with fair and transparent business practices, in October 2016, Orange Moldova bought 100% of the equity of Sun Communications. Sun Communications succeeded to create tangible and quantifiable value while also maintaining ‘good and fair’ business practices that rewarded its shareholders in the most substantial M&A transaction in Moldova for several years.