Ukrainian starts entrepreneurship club in Rīga

Take note – story published 1 year ago

In January this year, 7,392 Ukrainian nationals were employed in Latvia, according to data from the State Revenue Service (VID). The entrepreneur Svitlana Epple has created an entrepreneurship club in Latvia, Latvian Radio reported on January 30.

VID spokeswoman Kristīne Augstkalne - Jaunbērziņa said that the majority of Ukrainian state nationals who entered Latvia due to the war launched by Russia are working a salaried job.

"The most popular sectors are restaurants, mobile catering services, retail, construction, hotels, freight, and hospitals as well. Meanwhile, 295 persons have registered their economic activities in Latvia. The most popular sector is barber and beauty services, with 143 people working, a smaller number of people have chosen mail and courier activities, logging, forestry, other forestry activities, and physical well-being improvement services,” the VID representative said.

Each national of Ukraine, when commencing employment or economic activity in Latvia, receives a benefit in the amount of one minimum salary.

The entrepreneur Svitlana Epple arrived in Latvia a year and a half ago, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine had not yet begun. She worked in a variety of business-leading positions in the marketing field and arrived in Rīga at the invitation of her employer. Svitlana married here and realized that there was a great shortage of business contacts.

“The club and society project, like the dating platform, came from, I say, simply because of my depression. It was difficult for me to live without contact with people, and later I realized there was a big demand for business networking. Great events are rarely taking place in the Baltic at the moment, but it is very necessary for people to get acquainted. The last two years were heavy for everyone – Covid, many restrictions, not all institutions worked and people are very keen to meet at the moment,” Svitlana said.

At first, the women just met and talked, but when the group grew up to 30 members, Svitlana established a women's business club. The meeting now takes place regularly and the members of the club also pay a certain membership fee.

“The meeting now takes place in specially equipped conference rooms where we can meet, exchange business cards, and explain what services we offer. Lecturers are speaking, different brands offer their products. There are not many Ukrainian businesses [here], but there are some. Most often, those who are here because of the war start developing their business here. In Ukraine, for example, a girl had a network of clothing stores, but now she is about to develop sales here. Another girl had a tourism agency. She's now interested in developing this business here and in my club, she can meet a lawyer and accountant who can help with finance and other matters,” Svitlana said.

When asked about the different business environment in Latvia and Ukraine, Svitlana said that the population's mentality was different.

“I've been working in marketing all my life and that's such a pretty aggressive and progressive sector. Must be creative, and learn something new. When I came here, I realized that a lot of what worked in Kyiv wasn't working here. Here, the business works in more relaxed conditions. We were accustomed to Ukraine, that the country was great and that competition was strong and that businesses needed to think about innovative solutions to stay afloat. But here, residents have family values first, each guard their private spaces, and that's fine, but marketing encountered problems because many things aren't topical here. All the recent events – Covid and war – force the business to use more digitization and everyone understands that online sales are important,” Svitlana said.

Svitlana Epple said that the work of the women entrepreneurs' club led by her also involved entrepreneurs from Vilnius and Kaunas, and that her aim is to develop the club's activities internationally.

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