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    Niezalezna.pl correspondent in final of Ukrainian Journalists Union competition

    The article entitled “Business during the war. Ukrainian entrepreneurs look at Poland,” was published in the niezalezna.pl portal in June this year and authored by our correspondent in Ukraine, Volodymyr Buha, made it to the finals of the competition of the Union of Journalists of Ukraine “Avangarda informacyjna – 2022.” This organisation brings together more than 19,000 employees of Ukrainian media.

    ➡️ Article in Ukrainian

    “I am glad that the professional jury appreciated my work in the ‘International solidarity’ category. To receive recognition from colleagues is always nice, especially in times of war. In the articles that I write for the portal Niezalezna.pl, I try to tell Polish readers about Ukrainians who are now fighting for freedom and independence not only for Ukraine but for the whole of Europe. My articles are about people who are going through the trials of a cruel war with dignity, remaining themselves. In an article that was a finalist in the contest, I introduced the reader to, among other things, the story of an entrepreneur who, despite the shelling and constant anxiety, has not stopped his business in Kyiv. What’s more, he donates the proceeds to help those in need. This article also mentioned our colleague from the Kharkiv region, who not only found refuge in Poland but also set up her small business here. She helps Ukrainian women in Poland to look beautiful,”

    the author of the finalist work noted.

    The results of the competition and the names of the winners in all three categories – “Best journalistic work,” “Volunteer journalists” and “International solidarity” – are expected to be announced in January 2023, the Union of Journalists of Ukraine said.

    The Union of Journalists of Ukraine is one of the largest professional organisations with more than 19,000 media workers. Every year, the Union organises a competition of journalistic solidarity in which both novice journalists and experienced columnists take part. This year alone, more than 160 entries were submitted for the 'Best Journalistic Work' nomination, which demonstrates the high level and authority of the competition among Ukrainian journalists.

    Volodymyr Buha is a Ukrainian journalist, songwriter, and former long-time correspondent of the World section of “Gazeta Polska Codziennie.” He is currently a correspondent of the Niezalezna.pl portal in Ukraine.


    BELOW WE PUBLISH THE NOMINATED TEXT

    Business during the war. Ukrainian entrepreneurs look at Poland

    Poland has taken in the largest number of forced refugees from Ukraine. However, people go to the country on the Vistula river not only to receive support. They are also ready to help those in need by setting up their own business in Poland. Likewise, entrepreneurs who stayed in Ukraine are not only developing their businesses but also helping the Ukrainian Armed Forces and internal refugees.

    The correspondent of the Niezalezna.pl portal in Ukraine and Poland talks about two such stories of success and help. He also publishes Ukrainian experts’ opinions on building medium and large businesses.

    Olena Illina-Makarova worked in the Ukrainian media before the war. After Russia’s military aggression, she was forced to leave with her child to join a friend in Krakow.

    “For a few weeks in Poland, I tried to recover and cried all the time. Until I finally realized: ‘in order not to go crazy, you need something to keep your hands and head busy. Grey hair first… Which at least needs to be dyed. And I’m not the only one like that.” So the idea was born to open a hairdressing salon. But not an ordinary one. Just ours. For our own. For those who have also escaped, with whom we have common topics and for those who don’t just want to sit by friendly Poles,”

    Olena says.

    Since her friend from Kharkiv has already lived in Krakow for four years, she helped her with organisational matters. The money for the business was given by Olena’s husband, who supports his wife in every possible way. It took the Ukrainian woman a few weeks to launch her business. The woman found a room for the salon on the Polish OLX portal within two days. And then there were the technical matters: the furniture search, repairing it herself, as in Poland there is a queue for masters and their services are not cheap.

    “It should be noted that Poles act very slowly… Very. For example, the bank promises us that it will replace the terminal in three weeks already. On the other hand, inspections in Poland look different than in Ukraine. Here, none of the inspectors grabs you by the hand for the slightest mistake and extorts money. Here, the entrepreneur is given time to correct the mistake. And it’s only when you ignore their request there’s no one to blame for,”

    the woman assesses.

    In her words, the salon has been in operation for less than a month and during this time it has been visited by around 100 women who, like Olena, had to leave Ukraine for Poland.

    “The most difficult thing now is to talk to the Ukrainian women, the visitors of the salon. Because each of them is suffering. And each wants to share this pain. That’s why I’m already emotionally exhausted in the evenings. But happy. Because everyone who comes to us comes out more beautiful and, most importantly, calmer. So my work is needed in this place and at this moment,”

    Olena admits.

    Business in war-Kyiv

    Valentyn Vojtkiv is the owner of a production plant and two shops of home-made semi-finished products “Galia Baluwana” in Kyiv. He says he has not left Ukraine and is not yet thinking of expanding his business abroad.

    “With the first rocket attacks on Kyiv, I immediately informed employees that we discontinue work so as not to put people in danger. All the time, as long as there was an immediate threat to the capital, our production and shops were closed. Literally a few times we opened the one shop we had access to distribute products to people and territorial defence units because at that time there was a food shortage and most people felt it,”

    the entrepreneur recalls.

    After the Russian troops withdrew from Kyiv, work began to resume. For understandable reasons. Jobs, taxes, food security. All important to maintain the economic front.

    The doors of the shops opened on 8 April. First, it was necessary to find new suppliers of raw materials, to adapt to the new working conditions.

    “We are in the middle of June and as of today, the company is operating stably. We have managed to restore three-quarters of the pre-war level of demand. This provides salaries and allows us to help the army. In June, we decided to donate 1 per cent of all revenues to the Ukrainian military through a proven charitable fund,”

    Valentin notes.

    Prospects for Ukrainian companies in Poland

    President of the Lviv football club ‘Ruch’ and coordinator of several joint Ukrainian-Polish projects, businessman Hryhoriy Kozlovskyi believes that Ukrainian companies and private entrepreneurs wishing to enter the Polish market will have to reckon with the differences between our two countries. And even a successful business model that has worked in Ukraine may not work in Poland.

    “Therefore, entrepreneurs will have to be flexible and adapt to new conditions. Which, of course, offers great development opportunities,”

    the businessman from Lviv said.

    At the same time, Hryhoriy Kozlovsky believes that the war with Russia has limited Ukrainian business on the one hand and opened up new opportunities on the other.

    “Poland is a very interesting and at the same time organic and understandable option for Ukrainian entrepreneurs for several reasons. Firstly, Ukraine is waiting for its status as a candidate for European Union membership. This means a serious responsibility for Ukrainian businesses. Our companies will have to adapt to the common standards and criteria adopted by the European Union. We will certainly do this ‘homework,’ so it will be easier for us to enter the Polish market, as a certain stage of adaptation will be behind us. Secondly, although the Polish market is very competitive, there are still niches available. Therefore, Ukrainian companies that operate in specialised segments can succeed in the neighbouring country’s market,”

    Hryhoriy Kozlovsky said. In particular, agricultural companies can succeed.

    “Negotiations are currently underway to promote Ukrainian agricultural products on the EU market, and we can count on the support of neighbouring Poland. Poles can share experience in introducing innovative technologies to the agricultural sector, as well as ensuring European quality standards, food safety and reforming the agricultural economy,”

    Kozlovsky believes.

    The man stresses that another trend facilitating Ukrainian companies to enter the Polish market is the move to western Ukraine. 

    “To date, more than 200 Ukrainian companies have moved their offices and production to the western regions of Ukraine under the Ministry of Economy’s resettlement programme alone. But many are relocating on their own, without the help of the authorities. And not only small and medium-sized companies but also quite large enterprises. Sooner or later the question of their expansion into the Polish market will arise,”

    the expert says.

    Speak the language of the Polish customer

    In turn, the brand strategist and initiator of the ‘UA business.global’ project Kateryna Doroszewska emphasises that to be successful in Poland, you need to be able to talk to the customer in their language, paying attention to slang, rhetoric and mentality. Hence, the main task of Ukrainian entrepreneurs is to know the language to successfully develop their business.

    At the same time, Ukrainians have their main asset – the ability to develop quickly.

     

    “We are mobile, flexible, creative. We quickly learn new skills and adapt to circumstances. And if Polish entrepreneurs have a more conservative approach to business, they will appreciate the benefits of working with Ukrainians and will certainly benefit from such cooperation,”

    Kateryna points out.

    As more women than men go abroad in the reality of war and martial law in Ukraine, the business has its specificity, according to Kateryna Doroszewska. Ukrainian women who have left with their children have to combine business development with childcare. But they also successfully overcome these difficulties.

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