Conflicts & War

The small Ukrainian businesses surviving despite the war

Lviv, Ukraine, Nov 22 (EFE).- While Ukrainian businesses are suffering from the disruption to the economy caused by the war and the departures of thousands of workers, they are resisting and adapting to the new landscape, with the overwhelming majority of enterprises managing to keep their operations running.

“Ukrainians always find the opportunity to buy flowers as a present to the people they love”, says Yulia while decorating the window of Amor, a small flower shop in the center of Lviv.

She says that demand is relatively stable despite the ongoing economic downturn and rising prices.

“A big change is that now it is soldiers who order flowers for their girlfriends and wives by contacting us from the frontline,” her colleague Sofia explains. She has just prepared a large bouquet of red roses for a client, worth about 4,000 UAH ($110), but says they have offers at a wide range of prices.

Yulia says that new flowers from Ecuador arrive every week via Poland at a local wholesale market as the war-time logistics has stabilized. She says the shop is considering buying an electricity generator to be able to work even in the event of power outages after Russian missile attacks.

“We are a strong nation and will surely win,” she says, explaining that they are decorating their shop for Christmas as a sign that life goes on here, despite the war.

A lively nearby street now features a newly-opened store selling clothes by Ukraine-based producer ‘Coosh’. Located in a recently restored old building, it opened months after the start of the Russian invasion.

“Ukrainians are now increasingly looking for locally-made quality products, especially those that feature patriotic designs,” explains the store administrator Maria, adding that the producer has even been able to expand its sales abroad.

According to Maria, many of the Ukrainian women who fled the war have been ordering the clothes made by the company, looking to have a “piece of home” no matter where they are.

This international demand means textile plants all over Ukraine that have been badly hit by the loss of millions of consumers can still have regular orders and stay afloat.

The two enterprises are among many Ukrainian businesses that have managed to withstand the blow to the country’s economy. According to a survey by Gradus Research Group at the beginning of November, 87% of companies have stayed open since the February 24 invasion.

With physical preservation the absolute priority, one in five companies has been forced to relocate from the frontlines or occupied territories in the east and south of the country.

While only 5% have reported an increase in revenues, a quarter have been able to retain or increase the number of employees. According to the survey, having ensured their safety, businesses have deliberately focused on retaining qualified personnel.

Unemployment is still expected to reach 30% by the end of 2022, as about 5 million people have lost their jobs, according to deputy minister of economy Tetiana Berezhna.

Small businesses have generally been hit harder by the massive migration that saw about 7 million Ukrainians move abroad and several million become displaced within Ukraine.

Despite those challenges, almost 300,000 new small businesses have opened since the start of the invasion. With several hundred thousand men mobilized into the army, almost half of the new businesses are run by women. EFE


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