Standing by Ukraine After Two Years of War

Ukrainians grieving the loss of their homes in Kharkiv. Photo: LetUkraineWin.

When I see the devastating images of destruction and suffering in Ukraine, I find myself both deeply concerned and profoundly moved. The scale of pain and hardship endured by the country is alarming, yet amidst this turmoil, I am heartened by the resilience and determination exhibited by its people. Whether it is our dedicated staff on the ground, our partners, or the millions of Ukrainians steadfastly defending their democracy, the spirit of resilience is evident.

For over three decades, The Center for International Private Enterprise has worked hand in hand with Ukrainian partners to strengthen the country’s private sector. We work frequently with an extensive network of business associations and chambers of commerce, and through those relationships we can understand and access the thoughts, fears and hopes of thousands of business leaders of all kinds, from executives to entrepreneurs to farmers. Our CIPE staff remained in Ukraine throughout the war, and on the second anniversary of the brutal invasion, I want to acknowledge their courage and adaptability and share with you some of their accomplishments.

Volunteers delivering humanitarian aid in Kharkiv. Photo: Oleksandr Chumak.

Working from bomb shelters, hospitals and other makeshift settings, our staff and partners continue their mission of advancing the voice of business in Ukraine, whilst also supporting the country’s defense. As Executive Director of CIPE, I hosted MOVA. It is a special podcast series highlighting the important role of business in the continuing war effort and in planning for a new and better future. I heard lots of stories about how small- and medium-sized businesses help to keep Ukraine functioning by donating funds, clearing supply routes, and doing humanitarian work to assist their fellow countrymen. These conversations capture just some of the challenges facing businesses, the incredible determination of people to simply live their lives and run their businesses, and the innovative way these entrepreneurs are addressing daily challenges.

  • Nadiya Bedrychuk, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Direct Selling Association, shared some staggering statistics with me that show the fundamental optimism propelling Ukraine through this crisis. In 2022 the association calculated that most Ukrainians spent 40 percent of their time in hiding. And yet, as 2023 came to a close, an estimated 76 percent of business owners expected growth. “I would tell them that ‘You are stronger than you realize,’” she said. “Your experience is like no other. You’ve shown us how to survive.”
  • CIPE partner Andrii Dykun shows pictures of bomb-riddled farms in Ukraine.

    Andrii Dykun, Chair of the Ukrainian Agrarian Council, relayed a series of horrors for farms: fields riddled with landmines, farmers tossed in jail, farms appropriated by Russians. They use perspective to stay positive: “It’s not so difficult for us as it is for the Ukrainian army,’’ Dykun said. “So, it’s very difficult, but some people are feeling much more difficulties than we are. So, we have no other choice as to continue and help as much as we can.”

  • Kateryna Glazkova, CEO of the Union of Ukrainian Entrepreneurs, told me the story of a pet goods manufacturer whose city was occupied by Russians on the first day of the war. After two weeks in a bomb shelter, the owner managed to relocate his family and his staff to a new facility in the western region of the country. And now, she said, the business is expanding its imports and business leaders are forming their wishes for a new, corruption-free environment. I asked the only question possible, “How do you remain optimistic?” Kateryna didn’t hesitate, which you’ll hear when you click the link and listen to the podcast. “We are Ukrainians and this is our superpower,” she said. “We have to do it. Really, it’s difficult. But we cannot choose another way.”

These are just some of the many stories about people who are overcoming adversity and uncertainty amid bombardments of Russian artillery, power outages, cyberattacks, and other challenges. We are proud to stand next to them as they fight for their freedom and work towards a brighter future. In the coming weeks, CIPE will share more of these stories to remind us that, despite facing even the most challenging circumstances, there remains an unwavering strength and will to overcome that can inspire us all.

Published Date: February 23, 2024