Phenomenal Entrepreneurial Drive of War-Displaced Ukrainians
28 June, 2017

How do you start from scratch in a new place and how do you become better, not worse off than before?

This is a question thousands of Ukrainians have. The overall number of deaths in the war in Donbas since the beginning of the conflict in April, 2014 has been put at nearly 9,500 people and over 22,100 injured, according to UN figures. Since the start of war, more than a million people have had to find a new homes, escaping complicated circumstances.

Kyiv hosted the Business Market this week. This is where internally displaced people present their projects, which they have started with the help of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Hromadske went there to show you their inspiring stories.

Olga, Crimea - Lviv, Western Ukraine.

Business: Making Cheese

Olga, her husband, and four children had to leave Crimea after its annexation in 2014. They moved to western Ukraine, the homeland of Olga’s granny. They started their own cheese making business.

Photo: screenshot from hromadske's report

“We didn’t have our own business there. We do here. Everything we do is for the better.” said Olga.

They make cheese and sell it, not only in Lviv where they live, but they also send it all around Ukraine.

Elmas, Crimea - Vinnytsia, West-central Ukraine.

Business: Bakery

Elmas, along with her family, moved to Vinnytsia in 2014. Here she started to bake national Crimean Tatar desserts - baklava, samsa and so on. Her bakery became famous in Vinnytsia - and she’s the only one in the city who makes these traditional treats.

Photo: screenshot from hromadske's report

“My granny and mom taught me to do this. We make these desserts and earn a living off it,” says Elmas.

She also added that it was hard to get used to living in Vinnytsia - mainly because of wetter climate compared to Crimea. But now Elmas feels at home here.

Oleksandr, Luhansk - Vinnytsia.

Business: Producing Furniture

“We dream of becoming the Ukrainian IKEA,” he joked.

With this same sense of humour, he told Hromadske about how he chose which city to move to from now occupied Luhansk: “I wrote down the names of all the regional capitals of Ukraine, put them into a hat and picked one out. It was Vinnytsia.”

Photo: screenshot from hromadske's report

Oleksandr said it was hard to start a new life here: he spent the first night in the city sleeping at the train station. However, after his brother moved to Vinnytsia, things became better. Along with other IDPs, they started a furniture business.

IMO provided Oleksandr with equipment worth $2,500. Now his company has a monthly turnout of around $4,500. However, everything wasn't so good to begin with.

/Report by Olga Tokariuk

/Translated by Liuda Kornievych