Olena Briukhovets, an entrepreneur from Myrnohrad (Donetsk Oblast), together with other members of an eastern Ukraine food cluster moved their facilities to Ivano-Frankivsk. Now several businesses from the east are already operating in a new location.
Until February, Olena Briukhovets was developing her business in Myrnohrad. Her company produced frozen semi-finished products – varenyky (dumplings), pancakes, stuffed cabbage rolls and cutlets. These were sold in shops in several cities of the region. She also had a hot food selling point in the local hospital.
Briukhovets made the decision to relocate her business after participating in online dialogue platforms for small and medium-sized businesses held since April by USAID Economic Resilience Activity (ERA). Several entrepreneurs agreed to relocate their production along with her.
“Under the relocation program, I was offered a railway carriage with a lot of space, so I invited other entrepreneurs. They are all members of Donetsk Oblast Food Cluster, which was created in 2019. I took everything I needed to make semi-finished products; entrepreneurs from Sloviansk moved their coffee shop and confectionery production, and a cheese producer moved from Kramatorsk.”
The three businesses from Donetsk Oblast moved to Ivano-Frankivsk in early June. Briukhovets looked for a place in other regions, traveling around Ukraine checking premises, conditions, and prices. Finally she decided on Ivano-Frankivsk as it is a long way from active fighting, and there is potential for business development.
For several months, the entrepreneurs repaired the rented premises to meet food production conditions: water, tiles, and stainless surfaces for cooking.
Recently, one of the relocated businesses – a coffee and confectionery shop – started working. Briukhovets is completing preparatory work and plans to start manufacturing her products in December. She will sell both frozen semi-finished products and ready meals such as hot sandwiches and pitas. She also plans to produce dried soups and borshch, which just need hot water for a finished dish to be ready in minutes. She believes that during long power and water cuts, such a fast food product can be very popular.
“During these few months that I have been here, I have been studying local demand. I see that there is a higher culture of food consumption. People do not need just a quick meal at an affordable price, they also want it to be tasty and beautiful,” says the entrepreneur.
Briukhovets is not afraid of competition. She does not know when she will return home, but she believes that both Myrnohrad and Donetsk, which she left in 2014, will be free and live under the Ukrainian flag