Olena Romanova left behind a profitable facial therapeutic massage salon enterprise when she fled Ukraine for Poland after Russia invaded in February final 12 months.
Along with three enterprise companions, the 52-year-old is now providing the identical service in Poland – one in every of round 30,000 companies which have been opened by Ukrainian refugees in Poland since then.
“We realized we would have liked to develop to not go loopy,” mentioned Romanova, who left the Ukrainian capital Kyiv with one in every of her daughters on the primary day of the conflict and needed to depart her husband behind.
Romanova is one in every of round 1,000,000 Ukrainians at present dwelling in Poland.
One in 10 new companies being opened within the nation is owned by a Ukrainian.
“It was very difficult once we began working right here in Poland, as a result of you do not know the language, the legal guidelines. You do not know the business, the labor market, the services and products,” she mentioned.
To start with, she mentioned she and her co-owners “pulled one another up.”
“I am unsure if I’d have been in a position to do it if I used to be right here alone, based mostly on my psychological state,” she mentioned.
‘Extra chaos’ in Ukraine
A fifth of the Ukrainian companies which might be sprouting up regardless of Poland’s sluggish economic system are in building.
A big quantity are in tech and the remainder are in companies like hairdressing.
Karina Synevych, a 36-year-old from Kyiv, works for the favored Ukrainian Chernomorka fish restaurant chain which has now opened two branches in Warsaw.
She mentioned that beginning and operating a enterprise in Poland was extra organized and clear than in Ukraine.
“In Poland, it takes longer. In Ukraine, you possibly can open every thing sooner, however there’s extra chaos,” she mentioned.
When the primary Chernomorka opened in Warsaw in December, the primary clients have been all Ukrainians who left opinions concerning the pleasure of the house cooking and talking their native language.
“We simply cried once we learn them,” she mentioned.
Progressively, Ukrainians started to deliver their Polish buddies and now many of the clients are Polish.
‘A special life’
Ukraine’s greatest postal service, Nova Poshta, can also be now servicing the massive Ukrainian neighborhood in Poland.
It opened its first outlet in Poland in October below the identify Nova Put up, which permits clients to rapidly ship and obtain parcels to and from Ukraine.
“At the moment, there are seven branches in Warsaw, and we’ve 34 branches in the entire of Poland,” mentioned the corporate’s head of the Polish department, 34-year-old Yevgen Tafiychuk.
Maryna Ivanova, a health coach who got here to the submit workplace in Warsaw to choose up a parcel, makes use of the service recurrently.
“For instance, at present I ordered Ukrainian embroidered shirts. In some way, I wished to help a Ukrainian producer,” the 30-year-old mentioned.
“I additionally ship numerous issues to the military by means of Nova Poshta. My buddies obtain them in Odesa and hand them over to the fellows. It’s totally quick and handy.”
For a lot of Ukrainians, even those that have opened profitable companies in Poland, any long-term planning is troublesome.
“I stay within the second,” mentioned Romanova, including that she additionally finds she is shopping for fewer issues for herself now as a result of she simply wants “my family members to be alive.”
Talking about her new life, Synevych mentioned she couldn’t say if it was “worse or higher, it is simply totally different, a unique life.”
“I strive to not plan something in any respect. At most, I plan a month forward. What is going to occur in six months? It is onerous to say. The primary factor is that it ends.”