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Business in the line of fire - Kiev entrepreneurs tell their story

0 23 February 2014

The tragic events in Kiev last week shocked the world, as the centre of the city was turned into a war zone. While the fighting has, thankfully, ceased, the future of the country remains uncertain after the President quitted Kiev, leaving it in the hands of protesters. 

Last week, while the battle between protesters and the authorities was still raging in central Kiev HopesandFears.com interviewed a number of Kiev-based entrepreneurs about the impact of the protests on their businesses. 

Oksana Kavitskaya, co-founder of the “Helen Marlen Group” retail chain said that

"Business is currently the same for us as for every other company in Ukraine - non-existent. The shops are all closed. To even talk of business at the moment seems strange."

Dmitry Kisilyov, Chief Growth Officer for Kisilyov design studio explained that

"Many businessmen and entrepreneurs have delegated all their responsibilities to someone else, or taken a holiday to go to Independence Square or to help protect the people that live there. I generally have a positive attitude about what is happening, as well as to any changes that will take place. The motive of the struggle is not joining the EU. The real motive is to challenge the system, to fight for our future." 

According to restaurant-chain owner Dmitry Borisov

"Business is actually the people behind it. In a military situation, you cannot risk the health and lives of your employees. We are encouraging our employees not to come to the restaurants that are in the current danger zone. On Independence Square our bar “Beer&Beef” has been closed, as the shopping centre “Globus” is in the midst of the protest. Loss of business is hard to measure, but attendance in our restaurants have fallen by at least 50%.

As much as I want to support everyone by providing food and drinks to the protesters for free, as we have done for the past 3 months, it is impossible. Our restaurants downtown are closed. Nevertheless, we are preparing food in our restaurants and trying to bring it to the people on Independence Square."

Alexander Kvitovskii, owner of the online shop “Perekotipole,” gave free equipment to some protesters in Independece Square, and offered a discount to others planning to use equipment bought on his site to protest. However, the unrest has affected his business.

"Sales in recent months have decreased by 30-40%. In recent days, our suppliers haven’t been working and we don’t know how long this will last. We are keeping our finger on the button so that when things become a little calmer we will be able to begin to work again. We will have to work harder to earn what we’ve been losing now. During the crisis, no matter what we do, sales will not increase."

Gregory Malenko, founder of SERM, BurgerBoom and Yogurtella, said that all his business are frozen at the moment.

"One of my businesses is an agency to manage online reputation. Naturally, now no-one is thinking about their reputation, not even large commercial customers such as banks and insurance providers.

I am also developing a fast food chain, and have already opened my first restaurant in the Kiev region. It took 6 months after opening to see that the business model is working and we had planned to open 2 more restaurants. Now all plans are irrelevant. People aren’t even eating in my existing restaurant. They’re saving money because they’re not sure what’s going to happen next.

In Kiev I have an open chain of Italian frozen yoghurt. We are already open in the “Olympic” shopping centre, but people are too afraid to go to the mall, just a few hundred metres from the square. Yesterday I went to buy groceries for the week ahead, and the butcher at the supermarket told me that people are buying products in large quantities due to potential closed entrance to the city."

Source: Hopesandfears.com

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