Kostiantyn Kuznetsov has been making various metal products for ten years. He started with barbecues and forged items (railings, stepladders, grates), and now produces fencing. Due to hostilities, he had to leave his native Kramatorsk and move to Dnipro.
A few days before the war started in February, Kuznetsov rented an office in Kramatorsk, bought metal, and was about to start producing metal fences from corrugated sheets. He was planning to scale up his business to several regions, but then war broke out.
“People were not ready to install gates; instead we had to save lives and property. For several months, I volunteered in Kramatorsk, helping locals to evacuate,” he says. “In April, I rented a car and took the metal, my tools, welding tables and racks to Dnipro. Even then, I still did not think about resuming work, but I realized I had to relocate equipment which would help me to earn money in the future.”
Kuznetsov did not really believe that people would order fences during wartime. But later, in Dnipro the entrepreneur rented a space for production in an industrial workshop and learned about ERA’s consultation program on the resumption of small business. An ERA consultant assisted Kuznetsov in setting up targeted ads and helped promote his services through a website. Later the entrepreneur received his first orders, and the number of customers soon increased from two to twelve a month.
Kuznetsov was known at home, receiving orders from various towns in the north of Donetsk Oblast. Now these customers have either left or have no money and remain in dangerous areas. The entrepreneur now fulfils orders for Dnipro residents, learning a new market.
In addition to gates, Kuznetsov also has an idea to make potbelly stoves.
“Without gas supply, these stoves can help people in the east to survive the winter and heat their homes. I will start their production soon. I already have a drawing of such energy-efficient stoves, and I want to make them affordable in price and size so that people can buy them. With an average price of around 6000 hryvnias, I plan to make them for 4000 hryvnias each. I think they will be in demand,” he says.
Kuznetsov hopes to return to his native Ukrainian Kramatorsk. And he believes there will be a lot of work for him there, including restoring fences and other objects.